Have you heard about the psoas? Do you know where it is, how it can cause trouble, and what you can do to stretch it?
The psoas is a muscle located deep in your lower back. It attaches right onto all five of your lumbar vertebra and then connect down onto the inside of your femur. You have one on both sides of the spine. The muscle is not particularly large, but due to the location of the muscle it can really wreak havoc on the body if its too tight or too weak. There are many nerves that run in close proximity to this muscle, or even pierce right through it, and this can cause a whole array of separate symptoms too!
So how can this cause problems? If this muscle is too tight, it can accentuate the curve in the lower back, which alters the mechanics and can increase pain.
Your psoas is a hip flexor. For all of us who sit at a desk all day, the psoas muscles are shortened all day. This encourages them to weaken and can also cause spasm when they are forced to lengthen again (ie – when you stand back up). Athletes are also more susceptible to psoas-related pain. Hockey players are particularly vulnerable due to the flexed posture with skating, and soccer players are vulnerable due to the striking posture of the leg . The backswing lengthens the psoas and can cause it to spasm if it is overstretched. Stomach sleepers who sleep with one leg tucked up also spend significant time with a shortened psoas and getting out of bed can cause pain.
Some frequent symptoms of psoas pain are lower back pain (which can feel quite severe), pain in the front of the hips, pain with coughing or sneezing and difficulty with transitions (for example – sitting to standing or turning over in bed).
There are home stretches that are can help reduce some of the muscle tension. When stretching, you should feel the pull in the front of the thigh/groin area. It is important that the stretches are held for 30 seconds, so make sure you give them good long holds. It is ok if the stretch is uncomfortable, but it should not be excruciatingly painful.
If you think this muscle may be causing some of your pain, come let Dr. Steve or Dr. Jenn sort it out for you!