Back ache and lower back pain concerns a greater number of people from all ages and background. Very often, back ache arises from a lack of spinal stability and weakness of the core muscles. Some of these muscles have simply de-activated and stopped doing their job. Why? Our world of technology has changed us from fierce cave hunters to seated beings. Growing scientific evidences show that back ache may originate from a lack of spinal stability. The good news is that we can change and reverse back ache by working the deep core muscles that helps stabilize our spine, our back. This third article devoted to deep muscles imbalances and back ache causes will concentrate on the PSOAS muscles.
The Psoas muscles, although ones of the largest and thickest muscles, are very deep and therefore difficult to address. They attach to all the lumbar vertebras and the discs and come down and hook to the greater tubercle of the femur.
The Psoas One Primary Cause of Back Ache
The Psoas is responsible for hip and thigh flexion. It influences the lumbar posture and the positioning of the hips. This explains why people with back ache and hips problems have knotted psoas muscles. When you feel stuck in your lower back, unable to bend forward or to stretch back, the psoas muscles are very likely to be involved.
Why is the Psoas likely to be the source of lower back ache
Most of us spend a lot of time seated with flexed hips, this causes some muscles, and especially the psoas, to shorten and become tight, while the reciprocal muscles lengthen and become weak. A tight psoas increases the pressure on your spine, especially if this pressure is not compensated by strong abdominals. More, incorrect posture during walking and standing (often caused by a tight Psoas) will only worsen the problem and create more back ache.
Anybody who sits for long hours, cycle a lot, absolutely needs to stretch their psoas muscles, ideally 2 to 3 times a day. Once the muscle is released and relaxes the stress is reduced on the back and hip. As a result, back ache condition starts improving.
A tight PSOAS may be the cause of multiple back ache issues:
- Tight and in a contracted state, your Psoas will cause your lower back to move forward, bringing you into a “lordotic” posture (an anterior tilt).
- The pressure exerted by a tight Psoas can affect the joints and discs of the lumbar vertebrae. This may cause disc degeneration and will make them more prone to injury.
- A shortened Psoas on one side will pull the pelvis or the spine to the same side, causing painful problems, such as scoliosis.
A tight Psoas will prevent your Glutes from working and activating normally which will only worsen back ache condition. They reciprocally inhibit as the Psoas and the Glutes are opposing muscles and work together.
Tips to Avoid Back Ache Caused by a Tight Psoas.
You can easily prevent your Psoas from turning into an horrific plank of wood, even if you don’t suffer yet from back ache yet.
Postural Corrections. If we maintain the same position all day, our tissues will end up adopting this resting position, in this case, your Psoas. The best sitting position is the one that always changes.
- Sit Back. You won’t lean forward as much as you do when seated in the edge of your seat and your Psoas will not shorten as much.
- Stop Hooking Your Feet under Your Chair. You provoke more hip flexion and more Psoas activation. Set your feet flat on the floor, ideally on a foot rest.
- Stand Up When Performing Exercises. Avoid seated exercises at the gym. You have spent enough time on a chair at work. Get on the treadmill or go for the Overhead Press instead of Seated Press.
- Avoid Sleeping on Your Stomach. Your back goes into hyperextension which amplifies the effect of a tight Psoas on your back (anterior tilt).
- Move More. Getting up regularly during the day will go a long way to prevent developing a contracted Psoas. Stretch more often, change positions… just keep moving!
To release your Psoas and prevent or stop back ache, it is best to see a therapist. Also because a wrong hip position is probably linked to spinal misalignment, therefore it is advisable to get the spine corrected before working on the muscles.
However, addressing the PSOAS from your own home will certainly improve your back ache and hip problems.
Exercises For a Tight PSOAS
If you suspect a tight PSOAS is the cause of your back ache, which most people have anyway, get cracking on the following exercises:
You can easily adopt this flexed position several times a day. It will help you release the psoas and help with back ache.
Holding the feet will help you stretch even further.
It is essential to work both sides. Insist a bit more on the side that feels tighter.
For another version of this exercises
Another good exercise is to lay on a table, holding one knee while the second leg is hanging down. At first, the extended leg might not release totally. As you maintain the position, the psoas will relax and lenghten and your leg, helped by its own weight, will progressively lower towards the ground. You can help the release further by putting weight around the ankle. Do it progressively.
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