Yoga will help relieve back pain.The Psoas (pronounced so-az): Why it can make or break your back
If you have ever experienced low back pain, you know that it is like having a tooth ache. There is either a constant dull throb or a sharp pointed pain. Either way, you hold your breath and wait for the inevitable sensation in your lumbar spine to rear up and keep you from functioning fully without distraction related to chronic pain. One major contributor to low back pain is a tight psoas muscle.
For our purpose here, we will consider the entire psoas major, psoas minor and iliacus muscles to be one large muscle grouping. They attach at the lumbar spine, iliac crest, run through the pelvis and attach on the inside of the femur bone. They make up part of the hip flexor group. They also flex and bend the spine.
If this group of muscles gets tight, it will pull on the spine, tilt the pelvis forward, and create tension on the vertebrae. A lot of times, when we try doing abdominal crunches or old fashioned sit ups, we actually tighten this muscle and miss the strengthening bit all together. It is a difficult muscle to find as it is a deep to superficial muscle and can be hidden by tight quadriceps or weak abdominals.
This is where yoga can come to the rescue. Yoga addresses tight hip flexors in general throughout the practice, but particularly targets the psoas group with lunge poses, back bends, pigeon prep, supine hip stretch, and splits. The variety and efficiency with which yoga pin points and lengthens this muscle is pretty awesome.
There are some signs of tight psoas that you should notice while practicing.
For example: while doing standing poses, notice the thigh on the straight leg. If the top of the thigh is bulging forward, you are more than likely tightening and hardening the hip flexors. Instead, soften at the top of the thigh and try to have the head of the femur move back toward your hamstring, away from the skin on the front of the thigh.
Notice if, while doing abdominal strengthening exercises, you are using your core, or your hip flexor muscles. In straight leg stretches notice if the top of your thigh feels bunchy and hard, or deep and soft. When you breathe, notice if there is a forced quality to the breath, or a slow and steady ease. Find more ease and your psoas will soften.
In backbends such as bridge or wheel pose, make sure the top of your thighs have a soft, supple quality rather than a bulging, firm, tight quality.
In general, if you are experiencing low back pain, try working with the psoas muscle to find relief. Keep the tops of your thighs moving back toward your hamstrings. Soften and lengthen the breath: smooth it out and make it last.
Try working less strenuously in back bends and open up by using lunge poses.
The psoas is a tricky and finicky muscle group. It charades around like an abdominal muscle, but should not be carrying the load of the abdominals which is the leading cause of low back pain.
Charry Morris, Certified Yoga Instructor Designer of the Yoga Weight Loss System
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Pain Relief , Lower Back Pain , yoga