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The Main Culprit in Low Back Pain

If you have ever had low back pain, often times one of the main culprits is a tight Psoas muscle. The psoas muscle is the primary hip flexor muscle, and is the largest, thickest muscle in the body. The psoas is the most powerful hip flexor. The psoas muscle originates at the lower vertebrae of T12 and inserts on the posterior of the femur. 

How do you Release a Tight Psoas

Move: Prolonged sitting causes the psoas muscle to tighten due to having the hips in a constant state of flexion. A muscle that shortens and stays that way, will tend to stay that way. If a person sits for long periods of time at a desk or vehicle, their legs are bent toward their chest. This causes the Psoas to be contracted and shortened. When a person stands up after having been sitting, the tight psoas muscle has to lengthen. This causes it to pull on the low back vertebrae and discs, creating stress to the spine. Often, this is felt as tightness across the lower back, stiff hips or even outright pain. Over time, the tight psoas muscle can cause serious structural problems. If you work at a job that requires you to sit at a desk for long hours, make a point to get up and move routinely through the day. Stop at least once an hour and stretch.  Also, invest in a standing desk to give your hips a break from standing for long periods of time.

Sit with good posture: Practice sitting comfortably with your back against your chair and your feet flat on the ground. Try not to lean forward which causes flexion at the hip and shortening of the psoas muscle.

Avoid Sleeping on your Stomach: Sleeping on your stomach causes hyper-extending of your low back, which can make the problem worse.  

Chiropractic Care: As I mentioned earlier, a tight psoas pulls forward the lower vertebrae, causing an anterior tilt to the pelvis, causing the lumbar spine to be hyperlordotic. This puts extra pressure on the intervertebral discs of the spine, which can cause degeneration, lack of motion, and increase pain. A Chiropractor can help re-align the spine and put motion back into a fixed joint.

Massage Therapy: A massage therapist can work through you abdomen to loosen up your psoas muscle. This move can be uncomfortable and painful, but is extremely effective in releasing your psoas muscle.

Stretch: There are a variety of good psoas stretches. Here is a description of one of my favorite psoas stretches. Begin by standing upright next to a table. Place your table side leg and torso on the table with your foot hanging off the edge. Press up through your arms until you feel a gentle stretch in front of your leg that is on the table. Hold this position. Make sure to move into the stretch slowly and avoid arching your back during the exercise.

Strengthen your glutes: When the hip muscle is being overworked, the opposing muscle, which is the glutes is weak. This is known as reciprocal inhibition. When the psoas muscle is constantly contracted, the glutes become inactive and do not contract the way that they should. To reverse this action, we strengthen the glutes which will inhibit\relax the psoas. A great strengthening exercise for the glutes is the bridge. Lying flat on your back with both knees up, the key is to keep a straight line with your body from your knees all the way to your shoulder.  Don’t let your low back arch too much, or allow your butt to dip.  Focus on only contracting your glutes to lift your body.  Squeeze them at the top and hold this position for 10 seconds, slowly lower.  Repeat 10-15 times, once or twice a day.  When this gets to be too easy, move on to one-legged bridging.

At Northwest Wellness we have Chiropractors, Physical Therapist, and Massage Therapist that can help get to the root of your tight Psoas and prescribe the appropriate care plan.

Northwest Wellness is located at:

37430 Pacific Hwy S.

Federal Way, WA 98003

Phone: (253)-927-0660