Self Massage Techniques

Get to the bottom of it

The Psoas and Your Feet: the secret to managing some of that pesky pain

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I get it. Sometimes we can’t always make time to get massage work to mitigate our pain. Between work, significant others, friends, sometimes our self care gets away from us. So what do we do if we don’t have an hour during a therapists business hours if we are in pain, specifically that low back pain that we have been complaining about?

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Now to be clear this advice may not work for all of you but my journey towards finding a means to help my own back pain has yielded some exercises that have helped me in those times of serious distress. About eleven years ago when I was eighteen I started developing intense low back pain related to sciatica, and for the longest time I couldn’t figure out how fix it.

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It wasn’t until I was in massage school that I discovered one of the best forms of massage work that helped sort out my low back pain. Psoas work. The psoas muscles are two bands of muscle deep to the abdominal cavity that attach to your lumbar and run through your hips to your glutes and legs, and when it is tight or in distress, I have found that ninety percent of the time it is the culprit for low back pain.

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Today in a culture that does most of its work sitting down, the psoas is consistently in a shortened position with the hips creased which inevitably over time leads to the psoas getting tight, making standing up and laying down uncomfortable. Since it is something I have suffered with for so long I learned a whole series of techniques to relieve the psoas muscles, and it’s why I specialize in low back pain. But, as I have said, what is to be done if massage work can’t fit into our week or budget?

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There are two things I have found that have helped me in the past. First however, I want to be clear. As I am not a physican and am not privy to everyone’s medical history proceed with these exercises carefully and considerately, and when the self massage technique is shown only apply enough pressure to feel a relieving pain, farther than that you can cause bruising or injury.

Familiarize yourself where the psoas muscle is by going to youtube and looking up ways that massage therapists access those muscles. Once you understand the basic principle of where these muscles are then follow these stretches illustrated below, and apply pressure to the area as shown below after, you will feel the area is tender. Apply only enough pressure to feel a good hurt and take deep diaphragmatic breaths allowing your hands to work into the muscle deeper and deeper:

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These stretches may be all you need for some of the time. I recommend sitting in them until you feel a relieving tingling sensation. Again, only attempt if you are physically capable of doing so.

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Notice where his hands are and how his hips and back are positioned to give him more leverage. Typically you can find the area your psoas is accessible by going 3 to four inches out from your naval towards your hips, use your finger tips and apply pressure to the area that feels tight. You may feel referred pain to your hips, glutes, and legs, this is normal is a sign you are in the right place

If you remember at the beginning of this article I also mentioned the feet. I have applied the above practices countless times, but sometimes the pain still lingers. I brought this to the attention of my parents, Robert and Melanie Sachs who have been body workers for over thirty years and who run their business from home, Diamond Way Ayurveda. After explaining to them that I have applied these self care techniques my mom explained to me that sometimes the tension can originate further down the body, in fact at the very bottom.

She then suggested that I find a tennis ball, sit in seat at a comfortable height and apply pressure to the bottom of my foot, from the very outside of my feet all the way into the middle. From doing so I discovered that my feet were in bad shape. They ached, and what was odd was it took just the slightest pressure to bring my attention to the areas that had serious restrictions.

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After applying this simple exercise for about fifteen minutes I started to discover that some of the deeper pain I was experiencing started to subside slowly.

So remember, if you can’t see me to help get rid of that lingering or chronic pain your experiencing, check out these simple techniques, and I hope you find some relief until you are able to come see me.

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