In a previous article I talked about how important it is to stretch the psoas muscle. This can cause many complications including back pain. To recap, most people have tight and shortened psoas muscles. The common activity of sitting causes our psoas to be consistantly shortened for extended periods of time. Also, lower back injuries almost always contribute to a tight psoas. In this circumstance, the psoas will undergo a consistent flexed state to protect an injured lower back. (1)
In addition to the psoas being tight, it is also typically weak at the same time. This creates dysfunction in the muscle. Our brain has trouble controlling the muscle because it has been in a shortened position for so long, thinking the psoas always needs to be flexed. We can stretch endlessly, but if we do not build functionality, then it will easily tighten up again.
Psoas Strength Test
(Modified Sahrmann’s Test (3))
Here is a general way to determine if your psoas is weak:
In addition to stretching, strengthening is key to achieve a fully functional psoas muscle. Here are some basic psoas exercises:
Make sure to keep you abs tight and don't over arch your lower back. Keep your legs close to 90° at the knees and hips.
Pull one leg in as far into your chest as you can and hold the contraction for 2-3 seconds. Return to the start position and repeat with the other leg. This exercise should be done slowly focusing on control and the contraction.
This exercise can be done seated as well. Be sure to sit up tall with your abs tight.
Again, focus on control and the contraction.
For more information on dysfunctional psoas and injury prevention contact Jerry Yuhara, CPT,PES.
1) Warren Hammer, M.S., D.C., DABCO (January 31, 1992). The Psoas Syndrome. Dynamic Chiroopractic volume 10 issue 3. Retrieved from http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=43076
2)John S. Gillick, MD, MPH, FACP (December 1, 2003) Ilio-psoas muscle strain – The Fillet Mignon of Back Aches. UCSD Healthcare. Retrieved from http://www.simple-ergonomics.com/pdf/Ilio-Psoas-07-2003.pdf
3)Michael Boyle (July 15, 2006) Understanding Hip Flexion. Ptonthenet. Retrieved from http://user152646.websitewizard.com/files/unprotected/Understanding_The_Psoas.pdf
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