To fully understand where I'm going with this you need to understand the location and role of the psoas muscle. I've spoken to a few people about it over the last few days, and not one of them could tell me where the psoas is, or what role it plays. To be honest I was a little in the dark too until I started research in preparation for my Dressage Rider case study. Of course I knew where the muscle was, and its basic function, but had no idea of the potential problems it could cause.
What is the Psoas Muscle?
The psoas major together with the iliacus muscle form the iliopsoas muscle. The psoas major is a complex muscle which originates on the spinal vertebrae between T12 and L4 and inserts on the lesser trochanter of the femur. The psoas major muscle is the strongest flexor muscle of the hip joint, not only stabilizing the pelvis but also enabling the thigh to rotate laterally. Tightness in the psoas major muscle can be caused by long periods of sitting (for example driving or working at a desk).
What does the Psoas muscle do?
The psoas muscle is one of several muscles which connect the legs to the spine. The psoas is key as it enables us to stand upright, supporting the spinal vertebra which facilitate this posture. Its also key to us being able to walk freely and easily.
Because of its position as it travels through the abdomen its easy to understand why it's believed that tension in the psoas can impact on many organs. An very quick search of google shows anecdotal results linking tightness in the psoas to such conditions as IBS, infertility, erectile dysfunction, bladder pain, frequent urination, sciatica, leg numbness and tingling, vulvodynia and painful periods. Now, I'm not suggesting for a moment that this is the cause for all (or indeed any) of these conditions, and I reiterate that these conditions are just results which have appeared on a Google search, but there is evidence that the psoas muscle can get tight, and when tight might possibly impact on other structures in the abdominal and pelvic areas.
Alleviating stress! We all know that stress can cause muscle tension. But once muscles are tight lots of things can help release the tension, particularly in the psoas muscle; a good physiotherapist, yoga, Pilates and self help with stretches and exercise. I've also found of late that Reflexology may be beneficial too. I've researched many techniques which are used in the release of the psoas muscle, and have developed a small treatment protocol which I've incorporated in to my treatment sequence. My anecdotal results to date have been good, with clients reporting a reduction in sciatic pain and an improvement in bladder capacity, while needing to urinate less. I can't quantify these results, and didn't have sufficient controls in place to be able to definitively say that Reflexology effected the improvement, but nonetheless it's fascinating, and it's something I intend to research and develop further.