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The Mighty Psoas

{pronounced “so-as”}

The psoas is my favorite muscle. I have a few others but the psoas has a special place in my heart.

I learned about the psoas muscle when I was in massage therapy school, but I didn’t pay all that much attention to it until it payed attention to me one day.

Early on in my massage career I would make outcalls to client’s homes and one afternoon I was putting my massage table in the back of my VW Jetta. Kind of a tight fit, awkward, had to do some lifting and twisting.

The next morning I couldn’t get out of bed. I “threw my back out”….. how is that even a thing!

I was in such extreme pain, I couldn’t stand up straight, it hurt to sit down, it hurt to stand up. Rolling over in bed was near impossible.

I went to urgent care and they gave me drugs. Sure that helped with the pain but it didn’t solve my problem.

I spend days exploring the pain, because I couldn’t find where it was really coming from.

Through a lot of movement, and poking around, I discovered this pain had nothing to do with my back. It was coming from the front of my body…. It was coming from my psoas.

I spent weeks exploring this muscle and ways to release it and stretch it that were gentle and that I found to be effective. I studied its pain patterns and its role in trauma and fear.

I even learned how to release it on pregnant women in a non invasive way in order to relieve their back pain and sciatica. I eventually took a 6 week course from the Psoas expert herself, Liz Koch.

Over the years, I have worked with hundreds of clients who live with back pain. The common denominator is always the psoas. So I got really good at releasing it and compiling stretches and exercises to keep the muscle happy and the pain mitigated.

Things to know about this muscle….

~It is the only muscle that connects the upper ponds to the lower body.

~It attaches to the spine at T12-L4. It lays behind your organs and inserts at the inner portion of the femur / thigh bone.

~It flexes the hip joint.

In many of us, the psoas is tight and weak do to sitting at a desk all day as well as a sedentary lifestyle.

The chronically tight psoas can cause:

Back pain

Hip pain

Mimics sciatic pain

Groin pain

Digestive problems and constipation

Respiratory discomfort from compression of the diaphragm

Clues that an aggravated psoas might be causing your back pain::

  1. It is painful to transition from sitting to standing and standing to sitting

  2. It is difficult to stand up straight.

  3. You feel pain in your lower back that wraps around to the front.

  4. You are walking hunched over taking short steps.

Who should you look for to help you with this?

A good Physical Therapist or Licensed Massage Therapist.

Call them and ask if they will assess if your pain is psoas related and ask them if they are familiar with how to work with it and how to release it.

There are many different styles of bodywork out there and in my opinion, the ones that are more gentle are the most effective. Of course, I am partial to Bowen Therapy!

What my clients have said...

Hip Pain "After my most recent TFL flare up a few weeks back, I was seriously evaluating whether or not I would be able to continue to train in the ways I wanted. If I bent the wrong way, hinged incorrectly or simply sat too long in my car, incredible amounts of pain would shoot down my leg making something as easy as standing pretty painful. Two visits, TWO VISITS, is all it took with Kate for that pain to subside. Now sitting in my car for hours at a time doesn't hurt, and I am back to hinging and squatting. Kate is exceptionally knowledgeable but what sets her apart is her care and compassion for her clients. I hope to remain injury-free but I know if I need help or relief, Kate will be there! She’s pure magic!"

Severe Back Pain Relief "I came to Kate on the recommendation of a neighbor who has had severe back issues, after seeing my surgeon, having an MRI, being told surgery on my back was indicated, trying physical therapy to avoid that, and being in even more pain as a result of the PT. She helped relieve my chronic symptoms almost immediately, with rather extraordinary wisdom And kindness. She got me through an acute episode when the pain was so searing that I was in tears and literally crawling to her table —through both with her massage and tutoring me in achievable and subtle stretches that would help relieve the immediate hurt and stiffness as well as being proactive and strengthening for the future. Her methodologies are varied and integrative, specifically tailored to the person in front of her, whom She constantly checks on in terms of physical reaction, always looking for a benefit to her client. She Is reassuring and compassionate but also matter of fact and therapeutically efficient... a truly gifted healer..." ~Laura E.

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