In a world of desk jobs and weekend warriors, understanding the iliopsoas muscle, its function, and it’s potential for dysfunction has never been more important. If you have ever been adjusted for low back, hip, or groin pain, your chiropractor has probably evaluated your iliopsoas muscle. More than likely, it has been contributing to your condition, to some extent. But that’s only the beginning.
The iliopsoas is comprised of the iliacus muscle and the psoas major muscle. It is believed to work primarily as a major hip flexor, and it contributes to external rotation of the hip (turning out). Sitting shortens this muscle, and standing lengthens it. For anyone who sits for long periods of time or does a lot of repetitive hip flexion exercises (including bending forward), this is important because the iliopsoas muscle can become chronically shortened. This results in feeling like we can’t stand straight, or possible that it takes a few steps to “straighten out”. This is psoas dysfunction. But there can be so much more happening when this occurs.
Anatomy lesson: the psoas major muscle has attachments to the sides (transverse processes) and fronts (bodies) of each lumbar vertebrae and to part of the lumbar discs (except L5-S1). It has further connections to the diaphragm and pelvic floor, which leads to involvement in everything from breathing to bladder control. When it joins up with the iliacus, the psoas muscle inserts into the upper part of the femur. Studies have shown that, not only is the psoas muscle active during times of hip motion, but it is active during sitting. We might not feel it, but the psoas is contracting and shortening even when we not moving it. This highlights its importance as a pelvic and spinal stabilizer!
When the psoas is involved, and left untreated, it can lead to dysfunction in the piriformis muscle (in your buttocks), which often can compress the sciatic nerve. Among other symptoms, psoas syndrome may even lead to sciatic pain and knee pain. In a very chronic psoas syndrome, damage to the intervertebral discs may even occur, due to its attachments in the lumbar spine.
The great news is that psoas dysfunction typically has an excellent prognosis. Significant improvement can be noted with as little as one chiropractic adjustment, stretching, postural education, and specific exercises. When treated conservatively with your Doctor of Chiropractic, you should find you are standing straighter, climbing stairs with more ease, and possibly even breathing deeper!
So now, if you have a chronically shortened psoas muscle and you try to stand, walk, run, bend forward, or pull something out of a cabinet, you may begin to suffer from back or pelvic pain. Perhaps you’ve been feeling a lot of stress or anxiety, or you’re just getting over a cold. All of these things, among others, might cause you to make an appointment to get adjusted. And your Doctor of Chiropractic will say something similar each time: your psoas is involved!
Dr. Jeremiah Davis is now accepting BlueCross Blue Shield, Independent Health and Medicare insurances! Just a reminder, Dr. Sasha Marinaccio is no longer a participating provider with United Health Care.
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Recipe Of The Month
Homemade Twix Bars (Paleo, GF + Refined SF)
Author: Rachel Conners
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
For the shortbread crust
⅔ cup coconut flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
⅓ cup coconut oil, solid
For the caramel filling
½ cup creamy almond butter
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
For the chocolate topping
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
¼ cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 14×5” tart pan or 8×8” square pan with coconut oil (I recommend lining the pan with parchment paper as well if your pan doesn’t have a removable bottom).
2. Combine coconut flour and salt in a bowl. Add the maple syrup and stir until fully combined and crumbly. Add the room temperature coconut oil and mix until a large dough ball forms, pressing out any clumps of coconut oil. I used my hands at the end to bring the dough fully together.
3. Press the dough into the prepared pan. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Let cool completely.
4. For the filling, combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until all of the ingredients are melted and throughly combined. Pour over the crust and let cool in the refrigerator until set before topping with chocolate layer.
5. For the chocolate topping, whisk together all of the ingredients and pour over the cooled caramel layer. Smooth evenly and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Let cool until set. Slice into 1-inch slices, or 16 squares. Keep stored in the refrigerator.
Make sure to keep them refrigerated until you are ready to eat them because the coconut oil has a low melting point and they get soft quickly. but i also suggest letting them warm up slightly before eating so they are gooey