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Balancing Hips, Abdominals, Glutes and Back

Posted Feb 08 2008 4:35pm 2 Comments

A client and I sat down to talk about some test results he recently received and how that would impact our work moving forward. I am concerned about doing certain kinds of spinal movement on him, and changed my strategy of today’s session as a result. One of my favorite things to do to a client is a Thai Cobra.As seen in this photo from, the therapist kneels on the client’s hamstrings and glutes and extends the spine and shoulders. Well, I do an entire series of moves while I knee upon the client’s body like this and culminate in the cobra move. With this client, this sort of spinal extension is contraindicated for the time being.

I did some psoas release work on this client to help balance out the interplay between erector spinae and iliopsoas. I am going to have to do some work on the muscles that do ankle plantar flexion, as well as glutei minimi and more abdominal work, although I did do a decent amount of abdominal work on this client today before I did the psoas release.

The psoas and abdominal muscles are sometimes antagonists and sometimes synergists, and it’s important to keep them in balance. Having a six-pack can actually be unhealthy for a person. It’s not uncommon for people with really tight abdominal muscles and psoas muscles to be chronically constipated, as tight psoas muscles can impinge upon the lumbar plexus, which controls the intestines. As well, overtight abdominals can restrict breathing, as the ribcage is pulled down and forward, and also can cause the body to waste energy by engaging the erector spinae in having to work harder to keep the body upright to counterbalance the abdominals’ flexion motion of the spine.

As the iliopsoas muscles are rotators of the femur, the glutei minimi can also be very tight, as they are antagonists in rotation as well as synergists in hip flexion. So it’s important to get them to relax as well when doing a release of the psoas muscles.

With good attention to detail, balance can be brought to this important system, and a dramatic reduction in back pain can be introduced. The flexibility of the pelvic region cannot be stressed enough in maintaining a high quality of life as we age, and psoas release techniques, combined with work on the abdominals, glutei minini, and plantar flexors will help keep us pain free.

Comments (2)
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"Having a six-pack can actually be unhealthy for a person." Wow, I had no idea. Thanks for sharing this info! Now I can feel better about not having super tight abs. I always felt like the goal of really muscular abs was not a good one for a woman my age, but I didn't have any good reason for feeling that way. I just know that women I've seen my age and over (I'm in my late 30s) who have the super muscular abs somehow look constricted. Their stomachs look pinched instead of healthy. So I never felt it would make me physically appealing to get that look at my age...and now you've given me a good reason not to worry about it. Thanks! :-)
Wow! My chiropractor was right! I woke up this morning at 4 am w/ pain on my lower right side around my lower back along my side and my stomach was bloated and it was very distressed. I am also very constipated when I experience this mystrey pain. Before I came upon this website, I did a cobra on the floor as it was 4AM! It brought relief and I also decided to do a standing hip flexoe stretch and psoas stretch. I am a personal trainer as well and this pain has plaqued me since 2004. Mystrey pain that comes and goes and I have had tons of tests done on me as well. Who ever knew tight abs can cause pain and constipation. I am planning on starting a yoga program. Preise the Lord, this is a prayer be answered!
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