View Full Version : Psoas Muscle

Erica M
01-01-2004, 12:22 PM
Have any of you been told that there could be a connection between dysfunction in the psoas muscle and scoliosis? A number of years ago, I went to a body work specialist who somehow managed to get at and release my right psoas muscle. I recall that, for some time thereafter, I experienced a much greater range of movement and lack of back pain. In my Google search on this topic, I found a tape called "Unraveling Scoliosis" by a woman named Liz Koch who has conducted psoas muscle workshops. If anybody has tried this tape, or has any further psoas-related information, I'd really appreciate it.

06-26-2004, 12:12 AM
Hi Erica,

I'm a bodyworker specializing in postural and orthopedic concerns, and I frequently work with the psoas muscle. There is a definite correlation between the psoas and scoliosis.

The psoas attaches to the anterior bodies of the upper lumbar spine then joins with the iliacus muscle along the inner portion of the anterior hip and eventually attaches to the very upper inner thigh bone. Its main function is to flex the hip (raise your knee toward your chest.) If the leg remains stationary, it will pull the trunk forward.

A chronically tight psoas will wreak havoc with the lower spine. When the upper fibers of the psoas are tight, it tends to put the spine into hypo-lordosis (decreases the natural curve of the lower spine.) When the lower fibers of the psoas are tight, it tends to place the lumbar spine into hyperlordosis (an increase of that curve.) Frequently, in scoliosis, one side is tighter than the other, or one side is tight on top and the other side tight on the bottom. This will lead to a torquing effect of the lumbar spine and pelvic girdle.

Find someone who does myofascial release therapy (www.myofascialrelease.com) or craniosacral therapy (www.upledger.com), or preferably a combination of the two. The upledger site will list anyone who's had their classes, but the MFR site only lists those students who have paid to be listed. However, you can still call the main branch and ask for a recommendation to a therapist in your area.

There is a way to access the psoas yourself, but please be careful. I've never met you, and I'm not sure if there would be any contraindications in your case. Anything wrong in the abdomen, like intensinal problems would be a contraindiacation. Basically, you take an inflatable ball just a little larger than a tennis ball, place it on the floor, and lay on it. You'll be face-down, and the ball will be just to the side of your belly button. Ease your weight down on it until you feel an area of tension or a hot, crampy sensation. You would continue to ease your weight down on it as the psoas loosens up. Then you would move the ball out and down a bit. Any time you find tension or the hot-crampy sensation, allow your body weight to gently ease down onto the ball as the tension releases. Do both sides.

Best of luck!

Erica M
06-27-2004, 09:00 PM
Thank you so much for this VERY helpful and informative post. I don't have any intestinal or other difficulties in the abdominal area, so I'm definitely going to try working on the psoas muscle using the inflatable ball as you recommended.

06-27-2004, 11:50 PM
Best of luck, Erica! Please let me know what sort of sensations you get initially and then what effects you get after working with it for a week or so.

One of the nice things about using the inflatable ball is that you can overinflate it so that it's almost hard, or you can underinflate it so it's more forgiving. I'd start with it inflated to the proper psi (y'know....feels and bounces like you'd expect a ball that size to do) and then see if you feel like you need more or less resistence. I've seen balls the proper size at Walmart in their huge bins and also at pet stores as dog toys. Some school supply places carry them. You're looking for something with about a 4" diameter. If you're very small framed, you might go a little smaller, or if you're very large, then maybe something slightly larger. But so far, with most of my clients, the 4" ball seems to work very well.

While you're shopping, you might want to get a pair of them. You can tie them in a sock together and rub your back against them either on the floor or up against the wall. Follow your curve as best you can, since you're trying to loosen and relax the muscles alongside the spine. You can also use a single ball against the wall to work on the muscles along your shoulderblades or those in your hips and glutes. A simple ball like that is a pretty versatile instrument.

Another good way to get the psoas to release some tension is to trigger it to do so indirectly. Muscles work in pairs. To move any joint, one muscle has to contract while another relaxes. If you contract the muscles opposite the psoas, it will trigger the psoas to relax some. (As you follow these directions, if anything feels wrong to your body, please discontinue. As I've said, I've never met you, and I don't know what particular contraindications might apply in your case.) You'd lie on your back with knees bent. Bring one knee toward your chest and clasp your hands behind your knee. Try to push your foot back toward the floor while your arms are trying to pull that leg closer to your chest. You're contracting your hamstrings, which are the main hip extensors. Hold the tension for about 10 seconds and then switch sides. Repeat so that you've done each side about 3 times. If you find that you're extremely tight in this area, you might want to alternate this exercise with the ball-work.

Erica M
06-28-2004, 08:17 AM
Thank you so much for all of this information! I really can't tell you how much I appreciate your taking the time to impart all of this wisdom. I am going to do the stretches and the ball work exactly as you recommended, and I suspect it's going to make a huge difference for me. I went to a bodywork specialist in the mid-80s and he managed to release my psoas muscle. The difference I experienced from that was indescribable. It surprises me that there doesn't appear to be more research and literature on the connection between problems in the psoas and scoliosis. I will let you know how it turns out!

06-21-2005, 02:38 PM
Has anybodyelse got a swelling in their groin and in the ligament (tendon) that runs from the front hip bone into the groin. I have been on waiting lists in the UK for 3 yrs now being miss diagnosed and I'm thinking this lump may be due to the scoliosis.

I was diagnosed with psoas bursitis, which turned out to be incorrect as it didnt show on an MRI scan. My psoas muscle is permanently tight and I have discomfort and pain where it joins onto the diaphragm and where it comes out and joins onto the back (around bra level).

I have read in a few places that the psoas muscle can be affected quite badly by the scoliosis but have not come across anyone with the lumpy swelling in the groin.



06-21-2005, 03:37 PM
I have been trying to strenthen my weak side and have been using this little device called the sacro wedgy. Seems to help with the pain also....................http://www.sacrowedgy.com/

Karen Ocker
06-21-2005, 04:24 PM

It could be a hernia totally unrelated to scoliosis. I would get it evaluated by your personal physician before you do any strenuous maneuvers for scoliosis. You do not want it to get strangulated; that would be an emergency.


07-01-2005, 06:54 AM
Hi Karen,

Cheers for reply was diagnosed with a hernia initially 3 yrs ago saw a hernia specialist and it wasnt one, apparently that would have shown on MRI scan also if that was the cause. I think its just that everything is so swollen and irritated in that region that its gone into some sort of stress lump reaction!

cheers again


03-13-2006, 12:49 PM
I'd just like to say that the advice posted by flashcrimson works very well. I tried both the ball and pulling on the knee while contracting the hamstrings, and in both cases I could feel the psoas relaxing.

Thanks! :D