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 www.teamsugar.com, 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.