How do you work psoas? Do you work psoas? Maybe better questions are why should we work psoas and what does psoas work do for the client? Psoas major is a muscle that massage therapists are overly focused on. Most learned to work psoas for any lower back pain or hip pain. Some are terrified of psoas. Still others say it is impossible to effect psoas, so leave it alone.
Assessment in the area of the abdomen in which psoas major lives can tell us quite a bit about alignment of the hips, ribs, and lumbar spine. Balancing tone in the psoas muscles is a complicated thing. Typically this is not accomplished by working directly on psoas.
First, we must know what psoas is effected by.
1) Psoas is effected by lumbar spine alignment. As a spine stabilizer that attaches to the transverse processes of L1-L5, the anterior vertebral bodies of T12-L5, and all of the lumbar vertebral discs, tonal balance from right to left and overall tone of both psoas muscles are intimately connected to alignment and spacing of the lumbar vertebrae.
2) Psoas is effected by tension patterns in the respiratory diaphragm and breathing patterns. Psoas attachments on the anterior vertebral bodies blend with the tendons (cruz) of the respiratory diaphragm, which are attaching to the anterior vertebral bodies of L1-L3. Shallow breathing, tension in one or both sides of the diaphragm, issues with the ribs the respiratory diaphragm attaches to can all influence tension in psoas.
3) Psoas is effected by the position of the femurs. Psoas attaches to the lesser trochanter of the femur, which is located on the medial posterior aspect of the femur. While mild lateral rotation of the femur shortens psoas, excessive lateral rotation or medial rotation of the femur lengthen the femur. Sheering movements also have an effect on psoas. If the femur is sitting in a medial sheer, psoas will be shortened, however, if the femur is sitting in a lateral sheer, psoas will be lengthened. Lastly, anterior sheering of the femur shortens psoas, while posterior sheering of psoas lengthens psoas.
Okay, whew! This knowledge tells us what we need to work to change tension patterns in psoas – 1) lower back and abdominal muscles, 2) ribs and respiratory muscles, and 3) the thighs and hips. Full Circle’s SMRT: Hips, Lower Back, & Abdomen class will teach you to assess and easily work most of these areas.
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