The Leading Cause Of Pain
What is pain? Pain is physical suffering or distress due to bodily harm/injury or emotional events. According to the National Institute of Health, 1.5 billion people worldwide suffer from chronic pain. The United States spends $500-600 billion a year on pain management. The leading cause of pain reported is back pain (27%), and one of the leading causes of back pain is tight psoas muscles.
The psoas is a long, large muscle that attaches to the vertebrae of your low back and to the inside of your hip. It is a primary hip flexor, responsible for flexing the hip and thigh. Sitting for extended periods of time shortens and tightens the psoas. A tight psoas will pull the lower back forward, causing the lordosis (curve) in your low back to increase and your pelvis to tilt forward. These changes can lead to compressed discs and joints in your low back, weak gluteal muscles and most importantly, cause back pain.
When your gluteal muscles stop functioning properly due to inactivation from tight psoas, other muscles take on their responsibility. This leads to improper muscle function, weakening of your core, overuse and back pain.
So how can you prevent your psoas from becoming short and tight? One of the most important things to keep in mind is to limit the amount of time you’re sitting to no longer than 30 minutes. Stand up and walk around for a few minutes and allow the psoas to stretch and lengthen.
Yoga and Stretching
Some simple standing back bends will help lengthen the psoas as well and reduce any associated back pain. Yoga poses such as forward lunge or pigeon pose are highly effective psoas stretches. The forward lunge can be performed with the involved side knee on the ground as well.
Another way to counter the effects of tight psoas muscles is to activate the gluteal muscles. The standing body weight squat is a great exercise to reactivate weak gluteal muscles and will ulitmately help strengthen the core and reduce back pain.
Tight hip flexors respond extremely well to treatment that is specific to the area of dysfunction such as Active Release Techniques. Whereas stretching and exercise is recommended and highly effective, there are times that treatment is required to address micro-tearing of muscle fibers also known as adhesions or “scar tissue.”
Our lifestyles are not conducive to living pain free. We sit for numerous hours each day. Whether it’s at work, or in front of the TV, we sit a lot. Sitting leads to tight hip flexors and causes a myriad of problems including back pain. It is important to take the appropriate measures to prevent tightening of the psoas in order to eliminate back pain and dysfunction.