What does your Psoas say?

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” right? Does something or one have to be broken to be fixed?   On the same note, does one have to “hit rock bottom,” to change their practices and/or begin believing and trusting in themself?  I wrote this post to encourage you to not only slow down, and listen, but to also believe in yourself enough to take action if you are feeling that something is not quite “right”. 

I am guilty of not believing in myself, and placing more value on other peoples’ opinions instead of listening to my own intuition.  My ‘problem’ had to get really loud for me to finally listen to it and take action.  Consequences will accumulate and the problem/symptoms can become more intense and confusing if the root cause to what you did and/or what happened to you is never addressed.  My unique and extraordinary story I have lived the past 17 years, has taught me a lot!  A lot about the physical body, in particular my body, and the deep connections between the body/mind/spirit.  Although, I am grateful for my experience and all of my lessons along the way, its been very challenging that I would not wish my experience on anyone.

I hope this post inspires you to dive deeper within your physical, mental, and emotional body and pay more attention.  There is so much at play in our lives and our body will talk to us if something is not quite right.

 

The following is a glimpse inside part of my ‘problem’…

If you have read any of my previous posts, especially my last one, you already know that I have been experiencing pain this past year.  It’s quite a dynamic and it has been hard to pin point a root cause and in my case possibly several root causes to explain my sensations.  The one thing that has been clear, is that my pain lives only on my right side body.  

My last post mentioned that I have integrated many practices to help relieve my upper body right side pain.  Pontus, my husband, a physiatrist and an osteopath was able to also help derotate my neck that he believes to have been stuck rotated to one direction since I had a neck replacement back in April 2017 between C6/C7.  Although this has noticeably helped my neck and shoulders to some incredible degree, except for when I am playing ‘Martha’ in the kitchen(as Pontus likes to say) and my right shoulder area can get agitated, the upper body practices and adjustment to my cervical spine has not been as useful, as I had hoped, in alleviating my pain sensations I have also been experiencing in my lower half.  

I do have a 19 month old baby, and although I know all the caring for her has not made the pain better, and probably has aggravated the sensations I feel, I do not believe this explains everything.  This past year I have woken up several times a week to intense throbbing pain in my right low back hip/pelvis.  I’m afraid most nights I wake Pontus up and beg and plead for him to massage my right low back in hopes that I can be soothed back to dream land…How I wish I could sleep like Pepper!!

These past several months, I have known, deep down that something is still not quite right, I should not be in this much pain!  My ‘pain’ has been intense this past year in my right hip/low back and pelvis.  As you may already know, this past year, I have gotten MRI imaging of my lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine.  I also got a bone scan.  The imaging showed no new areas of concern(does show my old compression fracture in my back between L1 and T12).  As I contemplate what I did and why I am experiencing so much discomfort I remember an old yoga injury I suffered in my right hip.  In fact, I have felt tightness and that ‘something is not quite right’ in my right hip low back, specifically dating since 2005, from this specific yoga injury.  Fast forward to 2021, I feel as if this injury has increasingly spread to the whole right side of my body.  Deep down, I always knew something was ‘off’ in my right hip, but ‘it’ wasn’t speaking loud enough to get my attention to take action.   I recently got an MRI of my right hip.  Although, I was not thinking the MRI would show much, I WAS WRONG!

My MRI of my right hip shows a severe anterior and posterior(rare) labral tear and extreme tendinosis of all my muscles within and surrounding my right hip.  I have been feeling mixed emotions, but most of all, relief.  Relief, that my sensations I have been feeling in my right hip/pelvis/low back is most possibly a result from not addressing my old yoga injury.

I remember the incident as if it was yesterday.  I was pushed forward in low lunge.  The teacher knew I was flexible and came from behind me in my lunge pose and said, “oh Brooke, you can go deeper,” and she pushed my hips down and forward from behind.  That moment something popped in my rt hip and I had trouble walking after for a couple of weeks.  After this injury, I was aware that I was walking with a dramatic shift and had a pronounced anterior tilt only on my right pelvis.  At the time of my injury however, I was not worried, nor did I seek out treatment because the rest of my body functioned just fine and I was not experiencing pain. I was 25. 

Now, age 43, and 3 kids later…I am experiencing ‘pain.’  I do not believe my pain is simply from the tear in my hip, but instead, all the muscle compensation!  I believe the muscles that surround my right hip have been working overtime all these years to protect my hip!  Muscles are there to protect our joints. Furthermore, I cannot believe ALL my ‘pain’ is from my old compression fracture I have between L1/T12, at my thoracolumbar junction.   Although I know that this vulnerable and unstable part of my spine must be contributing to the problem, its not the main source (like I have thought to myself all these years).  I also understand, perhaps, why I have not gotten better, in my right side imbalance, as I do believe that I’ve changed my ways and attitude especially in the past several years to heal myself and my body since this experience.  My body has been stubborn to adjust and transform with all the practices I have integrated.

One of the muscles I know to be wound up and tight from all my compensation is my Psoas muscle (on my right)!  

 If you are unfamiliar with the Psoas muscle here is a little info:

Our psoas is the deepest and one of the largest and dynamic muscles in our body. It’s referred to being the muscle of our soul as it is deeply enfolded into our core, internal organs, and central nervous system.  The psoas is located underneath our superficial abdominals and lies deeply connected to the center of our body and spine, it has a direct rapport with our superficial core muscles and internal organs.  The psoas connects to our diaphram/T12, and extends along our spine through our SI joint down into our pelvic bowl.  It then wraps around our pelvis via the illiacus and then down on on our femur bone deep in our hip(inner upper thigh).  There are 2 muscles, one on each side of our left and right pelvis and spine.  If our psoas muscle is over worked/tight/or weak it can unintentionally cause a slew of physical imbalances, internal turmoil with our organs and, even cause us to enter our empathetic nervous system with its connection to our diaphragm.  

The unfortunate truth is that, even if you do not have an injury to your hip/pelvis/spine etc etc, if you are an active person and not aware of this deep postural muscle, you may not be doing enough to help it relax, release and restore!  For the psoas does more than just flex at our hips and is said to have a more orbital quality of movement so it is integrated in all that we do!  It can also get extremely tight from sitting all day. Furthermore, being integrated with our diaphragm and our central nervous system, it is also known to be the ‘waste basket’ for our held feelings of emotional trama.  Sometimes when you release the hips, you are simultaneously releasing ‘old stories’ that have been locked up inside.  It’s important to value rest and restorative actions to keep the psoas supple, so we also feel vital and free in our body, mind and heart.

Its quite the paradox!   For as much as we participate in actively strengthening our core muscles, we need to equally learn how to and allow ourselves to relax and release this deep core muscle called the psoas.  A fluid, elastic, released psoas, will help us sustain a healthy posture/spine, healthy functioning internal organs(gut balance), positive outlook on life, a healthy lower to upper body connection, and beautifully long lean midsection.

If you are practicing Pilates you are already a step ahead of most people.  You already are aware of the importance of paying attention to the whole body and not just your abdominals.  You also value spinal health.  You diversify your spinal movements keeping the joints and ligaments and tendons healthy and well lubed with flexing, extending, rotating, and side bending without overdoing.  You are aware that every part of you (body/mind/spirit) is participating in some way or fashion in your Pilates practice…

QUICK UPDATE – 

I recently had a cortisone shot in my rt hip and botox in my piriformis and quadradus lumborum (psoas muscle lies too deep to inject).  The cortisone shot helped initially but dampened quickly after the local anesthetic wore off.  The botox has maybe helped a little too as the waking up in the middle of the night to throbbing pain in my right low back/right hip/pelvis has dampened.  That said, I am still suffering with persisting tightness and pain to my right side pelvis/hip and low back.  The pain travels sometimes up my right side spine and also sometimes down my leg into the arch/sole of my right foot.  Some days are better than others!  I am trying to keep a positive outlook and remind myself that this is just a ‘wave’ in my ocean, and that ‘nothing lasts forever.’  

Pilates, swimmimg, gentle stretches, whiskey, infrared sauna, dry brushing, breathing meditation practices, and looking at all the positives in my life, helps me keep my life in perspective to the greater picture and hopeful that things will begin to get better.  I have so much to be grateful for; not only do I have the most amazing, loving, and supportive husband and family, I have more knowledge and more insight to choose better and do what’s right for me moving forward.  

My next step is to try PRP for my hip and also my irritated facet joints near my thoracolumbar  junction in an effort to reduce inflammation in those areas and hopefully nourish the surrounding muscles and the surrounding tissues in May.  If this helps, I plan to do it again. In the meantime, I will try to continue to remind myself to – love, listen, forgive, and honor the beauty that lives inside of me.  I hope to heal with time.   I will keep you posted.  Until then, I hope you take time to actively listen and believe in yourself enough to take action!

The below are a few simple insights/practices to help you sustain a healthy balance between your deep psoas and core surrounding muscles…

-“F*** the tuck” – excuse my language on this one, but I still see many people that are still over tucking and hardening their groins beyond what is necessary in an effort to strengthen their core muscles and feel “tight”.  Like everything, there is a place for the tuck (‘rolling like a ball’ ‘open leg rocker’ for example), but is has to be in relation to what the rest of your spine is doing and also if you are weight bearing or not.   I feel that all this tucking and groin hardening in the Pilates method or any exercise practice can have the reverse affect of what one is trying to achieve.  Instead, soften your groins, scoop your abdominals in and up, lift your hip points, and lengthen your spine!

-Sit and stand TALL.  When sitting feel your 2 sit bones rooting down and when standing(soften your knees) ground as evenly as you can through your 4 corners putting a little more weight over your inner and outer heel opposed to your toes.  In opposition to rooting/grounding through your sit bones or feet, lift and lengthen your spine.  As always wear the center of your head over your heart and the center of your heart over the center of your pelvic bowl. 

-Take some time each day and do CRP, Constructive rest position.  Rest lying on the floor in a neutral spine position(allowing natural curves of spine) with knees bent and feet flat on floor hip distance width apart.  Breathe deeply and slowly for 5-15 minutes/day.  “I visualize inhaling down into my pelvic bowl and exhale gently zippering up through my front spine out the crown of my head.  Grab a pillow for your head if you are over arching your head and your base of chin is not vertical to the floor.”

-Pressure point release balls!  Lie down and breathe big for at last 30 seconds on any spot on your abdomen/hips/gluteus muscles to release any tight knots.  I love using these balls right below my rib cage, slightly above my hip bones closer to my spine, and on my glute medius muscles.  Be sure to release both sides:)

-Educate yourself!  My favorite books on the Psoas

The Psoas Book

-by Liz Koch

The Vital Psoas

-by Jo Ann Staugaard-Jones

 

“it is not about being fully healed and then starting your life, it is about embracing healing as a life long journey while allowing genuine connections to organically emerge along the way.” 

-Yung Pueblo

 

Love,

Brooke

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