My Quick Road to Recovery

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I’ve been extremely blessed with only having sustained two injuries in my entire life (the first being three decades ago while at a track meet!). The recent shoulder injury I had was the worst! I wish I could say the injury was from an intense workout, or during a grand adventure, but alas, it was not. I’m not really sure how it happened. It began the morning I left from Georgia (5/20/16) after visiting my son and continued to flare up off and on for a month. I immediately made an appointment with my Doctor but couldn’t get into to see her for three weeks. In the meantime, I did modified weight training (no yoga :-() I grew frustrated, impatient and depressed during this process. I realized how much my workouts are a big part of who I am. I tried various means of alternative medicine (massage, chiropractic treatments, foam roller,
Lacrosse balls, theracane, Epsom salt baths, various analgesics, pain patches, and finally an amazing acupuncture and cupping treatment).

I am happy to say that I canceled my doctor appointment three weeks into my recovery process as I was feeling considerably better. I knew that my doctor would probably merely suggest medication to mask any pain/symptoms anyway.

In retrospect, I am thankful I did go through this ordeal because I now can better sympathize with what many other people go through when they have an injury.

Thank you to the following businesses who were instrumental in returning me to full function in one month:

Zach Hylton Fitness
One Flow Yoga
Heather Dehn, D.C.
Young Hee Yoo, Ph.d
Sherri Battle, CMT
Inge Valenti, CMT
Winston Butler, CMT
Paul Simmons, CMT

For more info re the above businesses, see my Yelp reviews

Self Help Massage Tools!

massage

In between massage sessions, here a few tools you can use:

Here is a partial list of body tools – (self help devices that allow you to do body work (massage, acupressure) without the need of assistance).

TheraCane – An acupressure tool that loosens tight, painful muscular areas.  You use leverage and slight downward pull to create the desired pressure wherever you want.  This device is especially designed for the back of the neck, mid-back (between shoulder blades), upper back, sides of neck and shoulders.  It can even be used all over the body as a stretching aid.

The Stick – A non motorized massage device used by serious athletes to loosen trigger points (knotted up muscles).  The flexible core with the revolving spindles easily molds to various body contours.  This tool is great for the legs, especially the calves, and can be used effectively on all major muscle groups.

The Massage Stone This device was designed with the professional massage therapist in mind.  It is supposed to aid the hands, not replace them.  The stone may be used over clothing so it can be used often.  J   When heated, the Massage Stone drives the heat deep into the muscle tissues, relaxing the muscles for deeper massage.   When chilled, the stone can help reduce inflammation from a sports injury.

The Trigger Wheel – A 2” nylon wheel on a 4” handle for deep massage.  The Trigger Wheel works on trigger points and be used directly on skin or through light clothing.  It works the way a tire rolls back and forth on pavement. It is very effective in reaching specific sore spots, such as small areas in the neck, hands, wrists, arms, legs and feet.  It’s small enough you can carry it with you and use it throughout the day to keep pain at bay.

The Foot Massage A 2”x9” roller with raised knobs for foot massage, and rubber rings to protect the floor.  A super tool for tired feet. The studded knobs give you pinpoint access to the bottom of the foot.  This is used to stimulate nerve endings, reduce discomfort, and improve circulation. If your job is sedentary, use this tool on the job.

Breath Builder This device was originally designed for musicians to develop breath control; however it is excellent for anyone who desires to develop restorative deep breathing.  You blow into a tube and the pressure of your breath keeps a ping pong ball afloat in the cylinder.  It forces you to use your diaphragm muscles and to breathe correctly, with the goal of increasing your lung capacity.

The Back Revolution– This device is an inversion device which keeps your pelvis stabilized and decompresses discs and works wonders for store, stiff necks. Health professionals recommend using it for 70 seconds, 2 to 3 times a day.  Can help you control persistent back and neck pain.

The Pain Eraser 1 An exceptional hand-held tool that is firm enough for deep massage yet soft enough for more tender parts of your body, including your face.  Access arms, legs, hands, feet, back etc., easily with this high quality massage tool.  1-1/2” wide roller is made of 100% natural rubber with 36” fingers.  Great for travel.

 

Why It’s Better to Be Gumby (Flexible)

Okay, I hate to admit it, but I haven’t always been the best when it comes to stretching, but I have vowed to make it more of a habit from here on in.  As I approach the half century mark the latter part of this year, it has become abundantly clear to me that I need to be more flexible.  I have the cardio/weight lifting habit down, but am seriously lacking in the stretching department.

Since I can’t seem to make it into yoga as much as I would like to, I did some research on some worthwhile stretching books. I have two really good books already, but wanted something new.   I found an excellent one entitled:  Stretching: 30th Anniversary Edition by Bob Anderson I plan to scan copies of relative pages so that I may forward them on to family/friends/clients/colleagues!  If you are new to stretching, or want something for just about every sport or activity you could think of, this is the book for you.  Here are highlights from the book:

Stretching When to stretch?

Before you begin your day in the morning

At the workplace to release nervous tension

After sitting or standing for long periods of time

When you feel stiff

At odd times during the day, i.e, when watching TV, listening to music, reading, sitting and talking

Stretching_2 Why stretch?

 √Release muscle tension making the body feel more relaxed

√Help coordination by allowing for freer and easier movement

√Increase range of motion

√Help prevent injuries such as muscle strains/sprains.

√Make strenuous activities like running, skiing, swimming, and cycling easier because it prepares you for the activity; it’s a way of signaling the muscles that they are about to be used.

 √Helps maintain your current level of flexibility, so as you do not become stiffer and stiffer over time

 √Develop body awareness; as you stretch various parts of your body, you focus on them and get in touch with them; you get to know yourself.

 √Helps loosen the mind’s control of the body so that the body moves for “it’s own sake” rather than for competition or ego.

FEEL GOOD!!

Back Mouse? NO…, you DON’T hire a exterminator to treat this.

 

 

Do you suffer from lumps in low back and on top of the hip?  For more information, view this video:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ow3uwRdSg0

Treatment of the Back Mouse

To treat back mouse, iliac pain crest syndrome, or episacral lipomas, I adhere to following treatment protocol:

Do not apply deep direct pressure.  This may aggravate the herniation. Deep pressure may and should be applied to the surrounding paraspinal and hip musculature (as much as client comfort will allow), but avoid direct pressure on the lipoma. Since it is a fascial problem, I apply a fascial stretch to only the thoraco-dorsal fascia. I apply trigger point therapy to the surrounding musculature, electronic acupuncture, and a sports massage to the low back, excluding the lipoma itself.

Do not stretch or twist the low back. Many clients feel they should stretch or twist the low back. It is through an inherent fascial weakness, or faulty biomechanics that this problem evolved and when the client puts additional pressure on the fibrous capsule, the inflammation may worsen. I do recommend stretching, but only when the back pain improves above a 50 percent level. When stretching the hamstrings, I always have the client standing with the leg elevated on something of waist height.

Do not exercise. Exercise tends to only aggravate the problem until the client improves above the 50 percent pain level. Many clients aggravate the back mouse while doing some kind of exercise. They have the misconception that painful soft tissue requires exercise so they tend to overexert themselves. As they improve, some mild exercise should be added. I recommend tai chi, qigong or swimming as the best initial exercises for someone with a back mouse.

Apply ice. Since the back mouse results in inflammation, ice will tend to sedate the nerves and cool the heat. After a treatment, I tell the client to go home and apply ice for a few minutes at a time. As he/she improves, I tell him/her to start using heat as long as he/she does not fall asleep on the heating pad.  They can also use a hot water bottle for heat therapy where you don’t have to worry about falling asleep.

Avoid lying on a hard surface. Some clients have heard that to treat back pain they should lie on a hard surface.  Although, this may be true for some conditions, it is not true for the back mouse. The pressure on the capsule may aggravate the condition and cause additional inflammation.

Avoid prolonged sitting/driving. Prolonged sitting and/or prolonged driving tends to aggravate the condition by direct compression of the lipoma and deconditioning of the low back. The hamstrings tend to stiffen and the abdominal muscles weaken. This will cause the low back musculature to tighten, further putting pressure on the fascia. If the client must spend hours in traffic, a low back support pillow or rolled-up towel is helpful.

 

 

Sports Massage

Massage therapy has become very popular among athletes, and in particular runners. Massage is purported to relieve muscle soreness, abbreviate recovery time, restore range of motion, remove adhesions, and even improve athletic performance. Catherine Ndereba, queen of the marathon, says massage is the one thing she cannot live without and receives two massages weekly as her reward for running 90+ miles a week.

Massage most directly affects our muscular system, but it also has an impact on other systems of the body as well. Research has shown that the human body responds to pressure – no, not just any pressure- but deep, therapeutic pressure applied in a steady, even manner by a professional. Therapeutic massage elicits very specific responses, such as, increased blood circulation, increased diameter of blood vessels, and decreased blood pressure, to name a few. These effects are significant for anyone, but can be of special importance to the athlete looking for ways to recover faster, prevent injuries, and improve performance.

Anatomy Review

Muscle tissue contracts; muscle contraction results in movement. Running requires sustained, repetitive muscle contraction. The greater the muscle contraction, the more shortening occurs within the muscle tissue, and the more force generated. The amount of muscle fiber recruitment determines the amount of force generated by each contraction. In running, these sustained, repetitive contractions translate into speed, power, and distance.

Fascia is a type of connective tissue that provides support; somewhat like a body stocking. Fascia wraps and separates each individual muscle, providing support and allowing greater ranges of motion. Fascia also works to absorb a portion of the physical stress from impact involved with running sustained from hitting the ground. Tendons attach muscles to bones. Tendons are located at the ends of each muscle belly. Muscle and fascia wrap together to form a tendon.

Ligaments are a highly fibrous form of connective tissue that connects bone to bone. They provide support to joints. Ligaments allow movement only within that joint’s range of motion. The cardio-respiratory system includes the heart, lungs, blood, and blood vessels. This system is responsible for oxygen transfer, nutrient delivery, and waste removal. Our circulatory system delivers blood enriched with oxygen and nutrients, like glucose and electrolytes, to muscle tissue. It then picks up and removes muscle metabolic by- products and waste. Inadequate circulation is somewhat comparable to starving and missing your garbage pick up day. Systems of the Body and Massage Susan Salvo’s textbook, Massage Therapy: Principles and Practice, lists some of the effects of massage on the body’s systems:

 Massage and The Cardio-Respiratory System

  • Dilates blood vessels- this promotes circulation and lowers blood pressure. Both systolic and diastolic BP readings decline following massage and remain lower for up to 40 minutes.
  • Improves blood circulation by mechanically assisting venous blood flow back to the heart. Some studies have shown that massage increases local circulation up to 3 times more than at rest. This is comparable to levels of circulation during exercise. Better circulation means better delivery of nutritive materials and oxygen to surrounding cells and tissues.
  • Cut down on eating from 4 p.m. on the night before the race or long run. Normal portions may be too much. It’s okay to snack on toast or an energy bar. No fat or roughage.
  • Promotes rapid removal of metabolic waste products; therefore improving recovery time.
  • Increases red blood cell count and their oxygen-carrying capacity.
  • Reduces heart rate.
  • Increases oxygen saturation in blood.
  • Improves pulmonary function by loosening tight respiratory muscles and fascia.
  • Reduces respiration rate by activating the relaxation response.

Massage and The Muscular System

  • Relieves muscle tension through improved circulation.
  • Reduces muscle soreness and fatigue through enhanced circulation.
  • Increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients. Increased circulation disposes of waste products and hastens recovery time.
  • Increases/restores range of motion; thus improving running efficiency and performance.
  • Improves flexibility- this reduces the risk of injury, improves running efficiency and performance.
  • Restores posture and gait.

Massage and Connective Tissue

  • Reduces excessive scar formation.
  • Decreases adhesion formation.
  • Releases fascial restrictions.
  • Improves connective tissue healing.

Massage and The Lymphatic and Immune Systems

  • Promotes lymph circulation.
  • Improves connective tissue healing.
  • Increases the number and function of natural killer cells; thereby boosting the immune system.

 Massage and The Nervous and Endocrine Systems

  • Reduces stress and anxiety and promotes relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
  • Increases dopamine and serotonin levels.
  • Reduces cortisol levels; elevated cortisol levels are linked to stress.
  • Reduces norepinephrine and epinephrine levels; these hormones are linked to high levels of stress.
  • Decreases pain through improved circulation and by triggering the release of endorphins and other pain reducing neurochemicals.

Deep Tissue Massage Sacramento

Many people like massages. It is a nice feeling when tired muscles experiences relief.  In particular, a deep tissue massage is a type of massage that penetrates the deep tissue layers of the muscles thereby relieving the body from undue stress.  In Sacramento, California where people are involved in active lifestyle and career-driven environment, a deep tissue massage at the end of a tiring day or week has some benefits.

Deep tissue massage Sacramento improves the overall wellness of a person. Here are some of the benefits of deep tissue massage Sacramento:

1. Improves blood circulation.  Massages, in general, lower blood pressure.  Deep tissue massage Sacramento puts enough pressure into the deep tissues; improving how the muscles work around large blood vessels.  Deep tissue massage Sacramento allows blood to flow smoothly around the body which improves other body functions. Good circulation that is improved by deep tissue massage Sacramento brings oxygen-rich blood thereby supplying the necessary nutrients to the muscles

2. Alleviates muscle pain. Because deep tissue massage Sacramento works into the deep muscle tissues, the improved circulation reduces the inflammation that can cause pain.  Deep tissue massage Sacramento can also help relax tight muscles. Toxins that accumulate into the muscles are also released by deep tissue massage Sacramento.

3. Heals muscle injuries. Injured muscles build up toxins which can hamper the healing process.  Deep tissue massage Sacramento stretches the muscle tissues releasing tension and toxins. With this, deep tissue massage Sacramento improves the condition of the injury because pain is controlled. In many sports injuries, deep tissue massage Sacramento is applied to promote rehabilitation of the muscles.

There is indeed healing powers in deep tissue massage Sacramento. Vonda taps into the natural healing power of the body through the power of touch.   Vonda believes that massage, including deep tissue massage Sacramento, is an experience of the body and soul.  Vonda is a certified and educated therapist who heals and relaxes your muscles by listening to your preferences and how your body adapts to the deep tissue massage Sacramento. Such specialized service allows her to customize your session of deep tissue massage Sacramento to address your needs. For more information on deep tissue massage Sacramento, visit http://www.vssage.com/.

 

 

Why do Spas/Massage Envy, etc., Offer Only 50/80 minute Sessions?

 

For a long time in the U.S. and much of Europe and Asia, 30-45 minutes was considered standard for massage. As we’ve realized over the years how much can be achieved with therapeutic massage, typical sessions extended to 60 or even 90 minutes or more. Most massage therapists prefer to take breaks of at least 15 minutes in between every 1 to 3 massages.  I take 30 – 60 min breaks between each client and limit the number of massages I do each day so I am not overtaxed and you receive a quality massage.

In recent years, many businesses (mostly spas) have discovered that if they cut the session by 10 minutes, they can book the therapists for more sessions and make more money. The problem with this “professional hour” of 50 minutes is that you are often paying for the price of an hour, and getting a very weary massage therapist for less than an hour.  When I first began doing massage, I worked in a spa environment for 1.5 years.  I knew early on that I did not want to continue to work in a spa.   I could never do a 50 minute session and would always go over.  The clients appreciated that I gave them the full time, but the spa owner did not. :-( 10-15 minutes is not sufficient time to ground yourself,  change linens, and prepare for the next session.

Everyone except the spa owners suffer when sessions are cut short. Clients lose a total of one full treatment every six sessions (10 minutes times 6 sessions is an hour)! Therapists don’t get enough time to keep up/recharge and are pressured to try to fit a full massage into 50 minutes, which is hard enough to do even in 60 minutes.  Unless you are dead set on the ‘spa experience’, I would highly recommend an independent massage therapist or a business who can give you the full 60/90/120 minute session.  Pay attention to the time the massage begins and when it ends.  You pay good money for massage so I believe you should get what you pay for!!

 

Find Painful Muscle Relief Through Trigger Point Massage

What exactly is a Trigger Point or, Myofascial Trigger Points (TrP)?  They are simply a firm, tangible, tender spot found in any given muscle group with symptoms including deep, aching pain, numbness, inflammation and a loss of range of motion.  Many people would compare these spots to knots.  In my practice, I see these occur primarily in the back/neck and Gluteal Muscles, but they can be found on any muscle in the body.  These “knots” are also frequently accompanied by referred pain.  Referral Pain is pain that is felt elsewhere from where the source is.  For example, if I was applying pressure to a tender Trigger Point in the Lower Back of a client, they may also feel that tender pain occurring in their Hamstring.

There are several causes for these painful spots:

  • Over-training and/or improper form
  • Muscle weakness
  • Car Accident
  • Poor Diet
  • Beginning a new exercise program
  • Emotional and/or physical trauma
  • Insomnia/sleep disorders

Trigger Point Therapy has become very popular since its first use in 1843.  Dr. F. Froriep, a German Physician, found tender spots, which he named “muscle callouses” in the muscles of his patients.  He discovered that treating these specific spots brought immense relief.  There has been a lot of research on this issue since, but the most recent and well-respected is from Janet G. Travell M.D. and David G. Simons M.D.  Dr. Travell worked with terminally ill patients.  She found that her patients complained more of and had more concerns with the pain instead of the serious illness that was being treated.  She dedicated her practice to pain syndromes and alleviating patients’ specific pain.

Trigger point massage therapy is specifically designed to alleviate the source of the pain through cycles of isolated pressure and release. In this type of massage for trigger point therapy, the recipient actively participates through deep breathing as well as identifying the exact location and intensity of the discomfort.

The results and benefits of trigger point massage are releasing contracted areas in the muscles thus alleviating pain. You can experience a significant decrease in pain after just one treatment. Receiving massage with trigger point therapy regularly can help naturally manage pain and stress from chronic injuries.

Self Massage – Trigger Points http://saveyourself.ca/tutorials/trigger-points.php

The Myriad Benefits of Sports Massage

As an athlete can you benefit from massage? The average sports enthusiast might have their qualms. If you are running 30km a week, or lifting weights 3 times a week or generally pushing your body to its limits, how can a massage help?  I wholeheartedly believe massage can help with your athletic performance. I work out 1.5-2 hours at least five days a week and practice what I preach by generally get a massage 1x a week.

First of all, let’s have another look at the State of  California’s definition of “massage”.

(a) “Massage” means the application of a system of structured touch, pressure, movement, and holding to the soft tissues of the human body with the intent to enhance or restore the health and well-being of the client. The practice includes the external application of water, heat, cold, lubricants, salt scrubs, or other topical preparations; use of devices that mimic or enhance the actions of the hands; and determination of whether massage therapy is appropriate or contraindicated, or whether referral to another health care practitioner is appropriate. For purposes of this chapter, massage and bodywork are interchangeable.

Pretty verbose isn’t it?  Most people that want a relaxation massage don’t want to hear any of that.  They would prefer a nice, relaxing, soothing massage… the kind you see on television, or in the movies.  But the beauty of the definition is how broad it is.  As a CMT, I treat “soft tissue and joints by manipulation”.  Soft tissue can be muscles, ligaments, tendons, or fascia.  Well, we all know what muscles are and we generally accept that CMT’s are adept at “loosening” or “getting the kinks out of” muscles.  Ligaments are what are involved in ankle sprains, MCL or ACL tears of the knee.  Tendons are involved in any kind of tendonitis or tendinosis, overuse conditions such as treat golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow.  And then there’s fascia which act like ropes attaching a sail from the boat to the mast.   If you imagine that the sail is the muscle that powers the boat, then the lines, ropes and pulleys are the fascia that decide how tightly the sail/muscle will be stretched and how powerful the sail/muscle can be.  A CMT is trained to work on the muscles, fascia, ligaments, tendons and joints or basically all those great little parts that work together to help you achieve peak athletic performance.  For the moment, let’s forget about the typical relaxing “massage” and start thinking of this as “therapy performed by a massage therapist” much the same way we think of therapy performed by a physical therapist or chiropractor.  Did you know that Massage therapists are qualified to perform most of the stretches, exercises and manipulations that a physiotherapist does?

Athletes are all too familiar with the burn and soreness in the muscles that accompanies a good workout.  The pain is often caused by lactic acid build-up and inflammation in the muscles or spasm (shortening) of the muscles.  During a post event session, CMT’s can flush out the muscles helping to remove lactic acids and other metabolic waste products while flooding the muscle tissue with fresh oxygenated blood. CMT’s can use different massage & stretching techniques to lengthen the muscle back to its normal length and reduce pain from muscle spasm.  These all help to reduce pain, increase mobility and shorten healing time after an event or a tough workout.

During the training season athletes are constantly trying to find a balance between pushing the body harder while nursing old injuries and preventing new ones.  These injuries or imbalances can shorten an athletic career and decrease performance.   Scar tissue or fascial adhesions often build up over injured areas or between muscles almost gluing these structures together and decreasing strength and mobility.  Rolfing & MRT work to remove and re-align the scar tissue.  Acupuncture is also very effective at decreasing inflammation by giving the injury the equivalent of a cortisone injection.

Here are just a few examples of injuries that Sports Massage can help:

  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Shin Splints
  • Hip Pain
  • Hip Tightness
  • Knee Pain
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Golfer’s Elbow
  • Patellar Femoral Syndrome
  • Post Event Stretch & Flush
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
  • Herniated Disc
  • Ankle Sprain
  • Wrist Sprain
  • Quadricep or Hamstring strain

 

 

Back Pain – PSO What???

 


The psoas is a rope-like muscle located deep in the stomach, which runs obliquely from the spine to the femur. The psoas is joined at the hip, literally, by the iliacus, which runs from hip to thigh. Together, the psoas and iliacus make up the iliopsoas–the body’s most powerful hip flexor.

Why should runners care about a hard-to-find muscle with an unusual name? The psoas is the muscle that enables you to run.  When you lift your knee, the psoas contracts. When your leg swings back, the psoas lengthens. For a runner averaging 180 strides per minute, the left and right psoas each contract and lengthen more than 5,000 times during the an hour run. That’s a lot of stress and strain on a band of muscle that’s only about as thick as your lower forearm.

The psoas also promotes good posture. Along with a coordinated team of core muscles–abs, obliques, lower back–the psoas helps stabilize your midsection and pelvis. Every time you stand, walk, or run, you’re engaging the psoas. If the muscle is compromised, either by injury or tightness, your running inevitably suffers.

YOU MIGHT HAVE A PSOAS INJURY. . .

If you find yourself shuffling more than usual, feeling a twitch in your stride, you might have a psoas injury. If you’re experiencing pain running uphill, walking up stairs, or doing any other activity that requires you to lift your knee, you might have a psoas injury. If you have hip, groin, or glute pain, you might have a psoas injury. If your lower back is aching … etc., etc…

The psoas is complicated.  Most runners don’t walk into their physician’s office and say, “Doc, my psoas is killing me,” because they don’t know about this muscle. They complain of other symptoms, from the lower back down to the foot.

Either way, it’s not enough to treat the psoas alone.  All issues of tightness, poor posture, weakness, and muscular imbalance need to be addressed together for successful resolution of a psoas injury.  Whether a strained psoas leads to low back pain or an achy back triggers an injury to the psoas, the symptoms should be treated in tandem.

If you can’t pin down which came first in the causal injury chain, the psoas is a great place to start. By treating the psoas, runners often find relief from pain in the low back, hip, hamstring, and groin.

YOU MIGHT HAVE A TIGHT PSOAS. . .

Try this: Lie on your back with both legs straight. Pull one knee towards your chest. If the other leg lifts off the floor involuntarily, then your psoas is too tight. Now try the other side. Muscular imbalances are common, especially among runners, whose side-to-side discrepancies are reinforced through repetitive movement.

The number one culprit for a tight psoas is your chair.

Sitting for long periods puts the psoas in a continually shortened state.  Muscle memory maintains this shortened state, even when you head out for a run.

A short psoas can cause several postural problems: lordosis (arched lower back), anterior pelvic tilt (pelvis tipping forward), and hunching. Running with any of these postural dysfunctions can lead to a myriad of other injuries and issues, including hip, groin and lower back pain. Our bodies simply aren’t designed to sit all day.

But unless you’re in a financial position to quit your day job and become nomadic, you can’t avoid sitting in a chair. What can you do? Take a stand, early and often. Make it a habit to get up and stretch regularly. When you sit, pay attention to your posture. Don’t let your lower back arch. Sit up tall, like your momma told you, and don’t slouch.

Try and avoid excessive core work.  Doing too many sit-ups actually trains the psoas muscle to be short. And in running, you want the psoas to relax and extend. If it’s too taut, then the psoas can’t lengthen. Without that length, the psoas can’t contract with as much force. Six-pack abs should come with a warning label: Runners beware–too many sit-ups may cause psoas tightness.

Core is beneficial only in small doses. Too many crunches can wreak havoc on your psoas.

LENGTH BEFORE YOU STRENGTH

Whether you’re just recovering from a psoas injury or dealing with chronic tightness, start back slowly. Avoid any activity that aggravates the psoas, like hill running, until the pain subsides. If the psoas feels stiff or tender to the touch, enlist muscle release massage. Once the psoas is released and relaxed, the real work begins–undoing all those hours of sitting, at your job, in your car, at home. Regular stretching is the best at-home antidote to a tight psoas. (See the psoas stretches listed below.)

Remember, though, that your psoas didn’t get tight in one day, and the pain you experience is not going to get resolved in a day. You’re re-training the muscle, which takes time. So be patient and gentle. Overstretching the psoas can trigger a myotatic reflex, in which the muscle, instead of stretching, contracts and shortens. Ease into the stretch without straining, aiming for a lengthened sensation.

Lengthening your psoas not only decreases your risk of injury, but can also open up your stride. Picture the long sweeping stride of an Olympic runner. Now imagine your prototypical old man shuffler, skimming the sidewalk with each step. Whose psoas is shorter? More than likely, the shuffler’s. And whose is stronger? Without a doubt, the Olympic runner
Lengthening the psoas can open up your stride. It can cure a litany of injuries, improve your running posture, and lessen tightness and pain in the back, hip and groin. Sit less, stretch more and get ready for your running to improve.

Psoas Stretches

1) THOMAS STRETCH

Sit tall at the end of a table, with your thighs halfway off . Pull one knee to your chest and lean back. Your lower back and sacrum should be flat on the table. If there’s any rounding in your back, or tipping of your pelvis, then you’re pulling the knee too far, so loosen your hold. The other leg should hang free off the table. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds for each side, and complete at least two or three repetitions.

NOTE: Physical therapists use this stretch as a flexibility test for the hip flexor. To pass, the posterior thigh should touch the table, and the knee should passively flex at an angle of at least 80 degrees.

2) KNEELING LUNGE

Kneel on one knee, with the front leg forward at a 90-degree angle. With your pelvis tucked, lunge forward, easing into the stretch without straining. If your psoas is tight, your tendency may be to arch your lower back; make it a point to keep the back straight. Raise your arms overhead for an added abdominal stretch. To vigorously stretch the psoas, complete 20 reps on each side, holding the lunge for 2 to 3 seconds.

3) WARRIOR POSE

Step one foot 3 to 4 feet in front of you. Lunge forward until your front knee is at a right angle. (Readjust your foot position if necessary.) Turn your back foot out about 45 degrees. Keeping your back foot firmly planted, and your head, shoulders, hips and knees facing forward, raise your arms overhead. Relax your shoulders; don’t let them inch up. Lift your rib cage away from your pelvis to really stretch the psoas. As in all yoga poses, breathe deeply and easily. Don’t strain. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

More info about the psoas and more stretches:

http://stronglifts.com/the-psoas-is-it-killing-your-back/