Psoas Shortening is a muscle located on both sides of our abdomen whose function is to flex the hip and stabilize the lumbar spine, function, the latter, which shares with all the muscles that make up our core.
Because the psoas or psoasiliac is the only muscle group that connects our spine with our lower extremities, many of the injuries or discomforts that it suffers are due to a lack of strength and general stability throughout the core system. When the requirements of central stability exceed those that the core as a whole is capable of assuming, an excess load is transferred on one of the closest muscle groups, the psoas.
In this article we will give you some keys to prevent and reduce the pain caused by stiffness in this muscle group, the psoasiliac. The psoasiliac is a muscle that divides into two. Both portions share insertion in the lesser trochanter of the femur but do not originate at the same site:
The psoas is an elongated muscle that is divided into major and minor psoas, originates in the last dorsal or thoracic vertebra and in each of the five lumbar vertebrae. The iliac is a flat and triangular muscle that originates in the iliac fossa, inside the ilium wing The origin of the psoas is key to understanding how a dysfunction in this muscle group can cause discomfort even in the lumbar spine.
Muscle shortening does not exist. It is an obsolete concept since the approximation between the origin and the insertion of a muscle is a phenomenon that has not been observed except perhaps in some specific myopathies that present with fibrosis.
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In this way the origin of the phenomenon of this stiffness, is neuromuscular. When a muscle remains chronically within the same angles of joint or elongation movements, it loses functionality beyond these margins. When this happens, our nervous system perceives the stretching of this muscle as something potentially dangerous and sends a reflex of contraction. That’s when we notice that characteristic restriction, rigidity or “shortening.” It can even be painful.
The previous exercise is an excellent option to work the psoas in contraction. To do this we lay in supine laying with our knees at 90 degrees and a resistance band around our feet We activate the core while we extend one of our legs and the other remains flexed in the initial position. Executing the movement including breathing in the process is also key to improving the integration of the psoas within the core system. Contractions of between three and five seconds work well for this exercise.
Bulgarian squats are excellent for working the psoas in stretching, that is, in eccentric contraction. Personally it seems to me a great exercise to work not only the quadriceps but also the posterior chain, very involved in the stabilization of the spine and the hip. Focus on what matters to us: feel the eccentric contraction of our psoas during the descent. Remember that we want to strengthen it in degrees of hip extension to which it is not accustomed.
I have full confidence and conviction that including strength training in your life will help reduce the pain of your psoas but if you have come here because the pain you feel is taking place right now, you can do the following.
We simply have to use a tennis ball or preferably lacrosse as indicated in the video. A good protocol is to apply fixed and direct pressure for one or two minutes before describing circular movements over the area for about 30 seconds. This self-massage will cause a temporary inhibition of pain. You can also perform the first exercise we have explained, emphasizing each repetition isometrically. These isometric contractions are also ideal for dissipating pain.
At the beginning we commented how the psoas often suffers from the transfer of excessive load on him. This load should be supported by several muscles that stabilize the spine and hip, including the buttock, but this is not always the case when there is a motor dysfunction. This exercise helps us to activate and recruit the gluteus, which in itself can result in an improvement of pain, but it also represents an active stretch for the psoas.
The exercise simply consists of elevating each of the two legs alternately. We can separate the leg from the ground maintaining a knee flexion of 90 degrees or keep it extended if this causes us discomfort in our hamstrings