Tight psoas , weak psoas !

I think the psoas gets a lot of bad press and is unfairly blamed for back pain and hip issues  . Before we go poking around deep into someones belly it is a good idea to have a valid reason for doing so .

  • It also helps to understand a little bit about the function of the psoas .
  •  When the hips are stationary the psoas helps to flex the lumbar spine and when the lumbar spine is stationary it helps to flex the hips .
  •  It is the only hip flex-or that can work above 90 degrees of hip flex-ion .
  •  It can help with side bending . The upper part from L1 to L3 extends the lumbar spine the lower attachments flex the adjacent spinal segments .
  •  It externally rotates the femur .

 Bio mechanicaly the psoas does not have a long lever arm so it is most suited to stabilising the lumbar vertebra not really for moving it that much .

To make this a bit clearer look at the hamstring muscles that originate  at the sit bones and insert on the tibia and fibula .This is a long lever  muscle made for big hip extension movement . Look at the multifidus with its short attatchments from vertebrae to vertebrae , these are short lever muscles made for stabilising the spine . Very similar to the psoas .

One of the most important jobs of the psoas is to stabilise the lumbar spine and prevent shearing forces . If the vertebrae are not stable during movement the disks can be compressed and cause nerve root pain that radiates down the leg or just causes local back pain .

Reason number one , the psoas is tight !

How do you test for a tight psoas ?

  • Thomas test , if the thigh does not drop parallel to the table you are possibly dealing with a tight psoas .

Reason number two , the psoas is refering pain and causing trigger points . Lower back , sacroiliac and buttock area .

We will focus on soft tissue work on the psoas and surrounding area and then give a take home stretch for the client . Make sure you add a butt strengthening exercise to account for reciprocal inhibition of the dominant psoas acting on the butt .

This means that when one muscle turns on the opposite muscle must relax so if the psoas is turned on and tight we must turn on the butt muscles to relax the psoas .

  • Supine bridges double and single leg

  • Psoas stretch

  • Roll trigger points with a tennis ball or foam roller

Reason number three we can also be dealing with a weak psoas .

To test the strength and stabilising capacity of the psoas we watch the lumbar spine when someone lifts up a leg in the seated position . If the lumbar spine rotates we know the lower back is compensating for a weak psoas and the opposite psoas is not stabilising the spine . A lumbar spine that rotates too much is often a painful one .

 Most of you reading this blog will already have great techniques for getting into trigger points and releasing the psoas.The most important message i would like to convey is that if you can identify the cause of the problem , in this case a tight psoas is often a result of a weak butt , or a back problem is a result of a weak psoas then you will be empowering your clients to help themselves and not have to constantly keep getting massage for the same old problem .