Lower back pain is one of the most common physical complaints today. In fact, nine out of ten Americans will experience back pain sometime in their life. There are many causes of low back pain, but one surprising cause is a tight muscle that is the deepest in the body, the psoas. The best relief for the psoas is a massage, however there are not many people who know how to do this correctly. Here are two stretches that might be of help for your low back pain.
The iliopsoas is actually two muscles, the psoas major and the psoas minor. For this I will use psoas, the common name. The psoas is the deepest muscle in the body. It attaches on the inside of the spine at the lower back, the first through fifth lumbar and comes forward through the abdominal cavity to the inside of the point of the hip bone in the front, the anterior superior iliac spine or asis. From there it continues around the front of the hip structure near to where the thigh comes in, and on around to the very upper inside of the thigh bone. For the most part it is only accessible for massage or manipulation just to the inside of the asis and into the abdomen a little until it dives too deep into the abdominal cavity to press into. On a very thin person this could be close to the navel. It can also be reached where it attaches on the thigh behind or posterior to the inguinal ligament and the gracilis or what is commonly referred to as the groin. Many massage schools teach that releasing the psoas with trigger point type work anywhere on the muscle will release the whole muscle. I have found this to be only partly true. Having the psoas worked by someone that is good at finding it and not over working it can bring an amazing opening to the abdomen, back and hips. I have seen many low back problems resolve with this type of massage. Working the psoas attachment on the upper inner thigh can be truly amazing, and not too hard to do on yourself.
The best stretch I know of for the psoas requires a little help. The person needs no skill at all, just to be able to move slowly and to respond to your instructions. Start by lying down on a massage table or high bed. You don’t need that much room, just so your leg can be hanging off the side with the knee bent and the foot hanging down, or if you are lower, so that the top of the foot is on the floor. Relax the leg completely so that the knee drops down as far as it will to the side of the table. Have the other leg extended fully so it is flat. Your helper then takes your foot in one hand drawing it up and slightly and towards your head. With the other hand they gently and very slowly draw the knee down. Instruct them carefully as this is a very strong stretch and they could easily hurt you. You might want to have them move in stages, moving just a little and stopping so you can relax all the areas involved assessing weather you need more movement or not. It is okay if your back arches slightly. Be careful not to overdo the stretch. Be patient and try the stretch again another day. I can’t over stress the importance of not over stretching this muscle. Most likely it hasn’t ever had a good stretch, so give it time to let you know what it needs.
The other psoas stretch can be done on your own. Lie on your back and bend your right knee so that the foot is off to the right side with the knee at a ninety degree angle. Use your left foot on the right knee to gently press the knee down. Your back will almost definitely arch while you do this which is preferable. The same cautions apply as with the previous stretch, so be careful!
As I mentioned earlier, a psoas massage is a better relief for the lower back. Maybe I can write an article on how to do that sometime. There is a lot more information on how to naturally treat low back pain in my Self Adjusting Technique DVD. The ebook is almost done and should be available within a week. Let me know if you would like a copy and I will give you a discount for pre-requesting it.