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Over-reliance on the psoas


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#1 gav

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 07:07 PM

:shrug:

I think that I am relying far too much on the psoas, seemingly equally on both sides. Over-reliance led to too-tightness --or maybe it was the other way around? -- which I notice particularly in arabesque and attitude derriere: a feeling that the psoas is "gripping" the working leg rather than letting it lengthen outwards, difficulty achieving proper placement and balance over the working leg, feeling of some compression (best word I could come up with --- it's not painful, and I'd like to fix this so it never turns painful) in the lower back.

I am concentrating on using the rotators and core to get those tailbones pointing straight down to give my psoas a way to release more, but I would appreciate suggestions as to:
- other muscle groups I should be strengthening to pick up some of the slack (I have some ideas, but I'd like an expert opinion here!)
- imagery that might help me work better/more efficiently.

I am also stretching frequently and trying to sleep on my back as much as possible.

Thank you!

#2 Pas de Quoi

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 10:54 PM

I have found that encouraging a neutral spine is the best way to allow the psoas muscles to work correctly, without becoming overly tight and shortened. Pilates work is a great way to achieve this. If you want to work on this at home, I suggest looking into getting a Stott Pilates Matwork DVD. There are many DVD's available - I am familiar with the Stott method, however, and really like their DVD's.

If one is adopting a posterior pelvic tilt (ie "tucking under") in an effort to get the tailbone to point straight down, then this in and of itself can cause psoas issues. I can imagine that this would also lead to a feeling of compression in the lower back.

Here is the link to a simple explanation of neutral spine and how to achieve it.

http://pilates.about...eutralSpine.htm

In my experience as both a dancer and a teacher, I have found that the myth of needing to "tuck under" still persists. Perhaps one of the moderators can provide links to previous discussions on this subject?

#3 gav

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 11:18 PM

Thanks, Pas de Quoi. I'm not tucking under -- in fact, I'm trying not to tilt the other way. And actually, the feeling of tucking under (e.g., a yoga "cat" pose) stretches out the lower back rather than compress it.

#4 diane

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 04:46 AM

gav, I am pretty sure you are aware of it already, but - since you asked - perhaps trying to strengthen the very innermost, lower abdominal muscles might help you free up the psoas from doing some of the work? Just a thought. :)

-d-

#5 Pas de Quoi

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 09:48 AM

Hi gav,

Sorry - I was confused by your description of overworking the psoas and yes, that cat stretch does feel great. The beauty of the neutral spine exercises descrbed in the link referenced above is that they work for both an excessive posterior tilt and excessive anterior tilt.

I suggest also seeing if some stretches for the glutes and some glute strenghtening exercises may help get things lined up correctly.

#6 b1

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 11:52 AM

When a psoas is tight or taking over, something else is usually weak. I too would suggest some strengthening of the gluteus and/or hamstrings.

#7 gav

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 02:14 PM

Thank you all. I had thought about the core and glutes, but I hadn't thought much about the hamstrings.

I'm still interested in hearing other suggestions, but I think it's mostly time to get working!

#8 ami1436

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 04:36 PM

Gav - I've been meaning to respond. There was a point in my PT/pilates work last fall where my psoas was SO painful...

I too was trying to correct an anterior tilt (opposite of tucking under) and was sure I wasn't tucking... in reality, I was tucking a bit - my proprioception was totally off... not majorly, but enough that it made a difference. I mean, I was in A LOT of pain. I'm not naturally flexible, but this was rough.

We've worked pretty hard on developing strength in my hamstrings, abs, and glutes, and upper torso/shoulders (while using core to keep the ribs and pelvis still) very successfully. I still have to do gentle stretches, but am not in pain like I was at all. So I guess I'm just echoing what everyone else said, but also testifying that at least for me, it worked! I do private pilates classes on the machines with dance academic turned pilates instructor, and they've been very helpful.

#9 gav

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 10:21 AM

Thanks, Ami! I like to hear success stories. I don't have the pain that you did, thankfully, but I would like to remove this impediment to progress and prevent any possible harm from working this way.