The iliopsoas is one of the more important muscles in the human body, but at the same time, it is one of the least understood. You use it every day, but you’ve probably never heard of it!
Psoas major is an essential muscle located along your lumbar vertebrae and your lesser pelvis. The long muscle is a hip flexor muscle, which means that the primary function of the psoas is to flex the spine upon the pelvis to bring the upper leg towards the torso. Together with the iliacus, these two muscles make up the iliopsoas.
The iliopsoas muscle is used often in every day life. When you walk around the block, you’re flexing your iliopsoas. When you go to sit down, you’re flexing your iliopsoas, and when you stand back up, you’re flexing your iliopsoas. More intensive motions, such as walking up a flight of stairs, or going on a quick jog, require more work from this muscle . Likewise, athletes of all types, from swimmers to golfers to soccer players, will utilize the iliopsoas to a great degree.
Because of the central location of the iliopsoas, and its essential function in so many daily motions, the iliopsoas can take quite a beating throughout oneâs lifetime. Strain on the iliopsoas muscle can cause back pain; poor posture; difficulty sleeping; leg pains ranging from the knee, to the thigh, to the hip; groin pain; and menstrual cramps, among other symptoms. Athletes are more prone to experiencing injuries associate with the iliopsoas and hip flexors.
The iliopsoas is located deeper in the body than others, making it less accessible for treatment when it is injured or stressed. Traditional massage therapy does not target this region, as it is protected by other muscles. However, targeted iliopsoas massage can ease tension in the area, increase flexibility, and help restore movement without pain. In a iliopsoas massage session, the therapist will ask the client to lie on their back and bend their knees. This will shorten and relax the iliopsoas. The therapist will then perform general abdominal massage work to relax the rectus abdominus and obliques, before moving onto more specialized techniques. The therapist will palpate the muscle to determine its exact position and relax the muscle fibers.
Expect your abdominal and iliopsoas work to take anywhere from 15-20 minutes to allow slow and patient palpation of the muscles. Many therapists are not knowledgeable in these techniques or hold hesitation in working on areas such as the psoas, gluteal area or anterior neck from lack of anatomical knowledge,lack of proper training or restrictions in their workplace. In addition to relief from low back pain, iliopsoas work is often used during customized therapeutic massage sessions for runners, cyclists, and golfers to improve their flexibility and performance.
Darcy is highly skilled in massage techniques for the iliopsoas muscle. To learn more about how iliopsoas and abdominal massage, contact Darcy at [email protected].