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Thread: Stalking the Wild Psoas

  1. #1
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    Stalking the Wild Psoas

    What do we know about the psoas muscle?

    Maybe more importantly what do we know about it in relation to Scoliosis?

    According to Liz Koch (a fellow scoliosis patient):

    The Shortened Psoas

    Because the psoas contracts and releases at each of its joint attachments it has the ability not only to stabilize but also to torque, rotate and twist the spinal vertebrae, pelvis and legs. A short psoas tips the pelvic bowl forwards. Minimizing the space between the crest of the pelvis and the leg compresses the hip socket, preventing the leg from moving separately from the trunk. Normal rotation, instead of occurring in the ball and socket of the hip joint, begins to manifest as twists in the knees and torques in the lumbar spine.

    Chronic muscular tension, overdeveloped external muscles, and muscular substitutions can be linked to a tense or overworked psoas. Birth anomalies, falls, surgery, overexuberant stretching or weightlifting may create pelvic instability or affect the functioning of the psoas muscle. However, like the chicken and the egg koan, whichever comes first a short psoas muscle or an unstable pelvis the problems that arise are the same: limited pelvic volume, constricted organs, impinged nerves and impaired diaphragmatic breathing. Putting pressure on the uterus, a tense or short psoas can cause cramping. Pushing the oesophagus forwards, a tight upper psoas can cause digestive problems. A short psoas can interfere with the diaphragm fully descending through the abdominal core. http://www.positivehealth.com/articl...?articleid=174

    I have a thoracolumbar curve - so this material peaks my interest. Accessing the psoas isn't all that easy but may be worthwhile. Martha Hawes addressed this issue through reflexology and in her memoir states that she feels working on this area was fundamental to improvements in her condition.

    Looking for an easier way to address the psoas, I've come across the work of David Berceli Ph.D. His method of accessing this muscle is called Trauma Release Exercise (TRE) and is endorsed by Liz Koch. http://traumaprevention.com/

    I have purchased both the book and DVD offered by Berceli - after doing just one session of these exercises, I've noticed an immediate "freeing up" of mobility in the pelvic area (that has lasted 2 days). Has anyone else been stalking the wild psoas? If so what have you learned, and what has been your experience?


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    Interesting article. But rather than running out and purchasing that DVD, one should try google searching "stretching psoas muscle".

    There are also multiple videos on how to do this through youtube and google.

    Thanks for the article mamamax.
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    You're welcome Jimbo :-)

    There are numerous exercises available (for free) but I was looking for the seven step TRE and wasn't able to find them on the Internet. The video is great in that it gives the step by step process in real time. So for me, it was a small investment for something that so far proves beneficial.

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    Biomechanics & the Psoas

    Some more info on the Psoas. I wouldn't postulate that the psoas is causative in scoliosis but I'm beginning to find enough information about it to speculate that it may at least be biomechanicaly influential in progression. Don't know really - just a speculation. The info in this website (out of Australia) includes a simple stretching exercise. I'll be adding this exercise to my routine - will report back ;-)

    The psoas can torque your spine to the right or left, pull it forward and twist the pelvis into various distortions. Frequently one psoas will shorten and pull the spine and/or pelvis to our dominant side. The distortions of the spine and pelvis can also show up as a short or long leg. This all results in scoliosis, kyphosis, lordosis, trigger points, and spasms in back muscles trying to resist the pulling of the psoas.

    It can also pull the spine downward, compressing the facet joints and the intervertebral discs of the lumbar spine. The pressure can cause the discs to degenerate, becoming thinner and less flexible. This degeneration makes the discs more susceptible to bulging or tearing, especially with twisting and bending movements. http://www.bowen.asn.au/bowen-therap...and-back-pain/

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    Quote Originally Posted by mamamax View Post


    It can also pull the spine downward, compressing the facet joints and the intervertebral discs of the lumbar spine. The pressure can cause the discs to degenerate, becoming thinner and less flexible. This degeneration makes the discs more susceptible to bulging or tearing, especially with twisting and bending movements. http://www.bowen.asn.au/bowen-therap...and-back-pain/
    This is an excellent candidate hypothesis for why torso rotation can be harmful to discs in people including those with scoliosis. I wonder if this is what Schroth claims.
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

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    By the way, McIntire will dope slap me if I'm wrong but stretching doesn't really apply to muscles. Although they claim the psoas are being stretched, I don't think that matters one way or another unless they are pulled to the point of damage.

    Muscles are worked in contraction and then they relax. That's the biochem/physiology of muscles as I recall from intro college biology.

    If you are feeling any benefit from stretching, it is tendons, not muscles or ligaments which whether can't stretch or it can't matter if you stretch them.
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

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    Just FYI, the iliopsoas (group) is a common source of low back/leg/hip pain in the general population.

    It's also a commonly missed sports injury because it mimics so many other things.

    I seriously doubt it's the CAUSE of progression. More likely, it becomes tight as a result of curvature.

    One word for *easy* self help: YOGA.
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    Quote Originally Posted by txmarinemom View Post
    Just FYI, the iliopsoas (group) is a common source of low back/leg/hip pain in the general population.

    It's also a commonly missed sports injury because it mimics so many other things.

    I seriously doubt it's the CAUSE of progression. More likely, it becomes tight as a result of curvature.

    One word for *easy* self help: YOGA.
    Hey Pam, am I remembering correctly about how muscles can only contract or relax and that stretching is irrelevant?

    Also, am I correct in that ligaments can't stretch (appreciably) absent injury but tendons can stretch somewhat?

    I learned this stuff about a million years ago and I am so not a biologist!
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

    No island of sanity.

    Question: What do you call alternative medicine that works?
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    "We are all African."

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    I would tend to think there could be some merit in that (especially with older spines which have had time to develop secondary problems). Leads me to question how the MedX effects the psoas compared to other rotational exercise. Maybe Kevin can comment. Good thought Sharon.

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    This might be testable...

    Look at the rate of disc damage in kids and adults who did and didn't do torso rotation exercises.

    Of course there would need a very large number in each cohort and they would have to match patient age, curve type and magnitude, and rule out connective tissue patients as potential confounders. Certain connective tissue disorder patients are known to be damaged by exercise and so we might expect damage in these patients from torso rotation (or any PT).

    The question on the table is are non-connective tissue patients also damaged by torso rotation exercises.
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

    No island of sanity.

    Question: What do you call alternative medicine that works?
    Answer: Medicine


    "We are all African."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pooka1 View Post
    By the way, McIntire will dope slap me if I'm wrong but stretching doesn't really apply to muscles. Although they claim the psoas are being stretched, I don't think that matters one way or another unless they are pulled to the point of damage.

    Muscles are worked in contraction and then they relax. That's the biochem/physiology of muscles as I recall from intro college biology.

    If you are feeling any benefit from stretching, it is tendons, not muscles or ligaments which whether can't stretch or it can't matter if you stretch them.
    What you are saying here is pretty much confirmed in the book written by David Berceli - and his 7 step TRE exercise is a whole different approach (and effect) from other standard stretching exercises that I have found.

    An interesting link to his work: http://traumaprevention.com/2009/12/31/what-is-tre/

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    Quote Originally Posted by txmarinemom View Post
    Just FYI, the iliopsoas (group) is a common source of low back/leg/hip pain in the general population.
    Agreed - also making it a source of pain in the scoliosis population

    It's also a commonly missed sports injury because it mimics so many other things.
    Making me wonder how often it is missed in general medical practice?

    I seriously doubt it's the CAUSE of progression. More likely, it becomes tight as a result of curvature.
    I also do not see it as causative. But, given what it can do, makes me question the potential biomechanical influence in progression.

    One word for *easy* self help: YOGA.
    Yoga can be easy, depending on the movements selected - some are quite difficult - even for the general population. I think I have found a local Iyengar trained instructor, waiting to hear if she has experience in Yoga for scoliosis. An option I'm considering.

    In the meantime the TRE seven step method of accessing the psoas is far easier than any exercise I've found for releasing tension in this muscle group - and the affect is both immediately noticeable and lasting (for me between sessions).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pooka1 View Post
    This might be testable...

    Look at the rate of disc damage in kids and adults who did and didn't do torso rotation exercises.

    Of course there would need a very large number in each cohort and they would have to match patient age, curve type and magnitude, and rule out connective tissue patients as potential confounders. Certain connective tissue disorder patients are known to be damaged by exercise and so we might expect damage in these patients from torso rotation (or any PT).

    The question on the table is are non-connective tissue patients also damaged by torso rotation exercises.
    Agreed - and I hope we see some future studies. I'm not ready to toss the baby out with the bath water on torso rotation (MedX therapeutic use), but I do think the younger population may do better with it (within certain levels of curvature degrees) than adults with larger curves and underlying secondary problems .. and think it is possible that with adjustments, the therapy may still be useful to adults. The meeting with Weiss could have proven very informative through study - too darn bad it did not happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pooka1 View Post
    Hey Pam, am I remembering correctly about how muscles can only contract or relax and that stretching is irrelevant?

    Also, am I correct in that ligaments can't stretch (appreciably) absent injury but tendons can stretch somewhat?

    I learned this stuff about a million years ago and I am so not a biologist!
    Sharon, I'm not sure I'm fully understanding your question, but I'm going to answer what I think you're asking. Correct me if I missed the mark ...

    You're right that (normal) ligaments stretch only minimally (a good thing since we want them to hold our joints together). When they do overstretch, I'm sure you know hypermobility is indicated.

    Tendons stretch considerably more as they join muscle to bone.

    I don't think stretching is irrelevant: Muscles do contract and relax, but they can also lengthen in response to stretching.

    Here's one of the clearest explanations I've ever seen ...

    Regards,
    Pam
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    Quote Originally Posted by txmarinemom View Post
    I don't think stretching is irrelevant: Muscles do contract and relax, but they can also lengthen in response to stretching.

    Here's one of the clearest explanations I've ever seen ...
    Thanks Pam. I didn't know any of that.

    As far as I can tell, that's talking about natural muscle function which exists to protect the muscle against damage.

    But is there any therapeutic reason to stretch muscle?
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

    No island of sanity.

    Question: What do you call alternative medicine that works?
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    "We are all African."

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