Q & A: Did My Therapist Injure My Psoas?

Published by Liz Koch on February 3, 2009 in Question of the Month

Q: Is it possible that my therapist possibly injured my psoas? I already had L4-L5 instability and now it is much worse after my massage; my back has pain and my leg is weak. I slowly recovered but a month after the massage and another gentle psoas release, I am back where I was;  with my spine instability, weak left leg, pain in the upper buttocks and pain in the left groin. What should I do?

A: Palpation of the iliopsoas is due to a misunderstanding of its function, is uncalled for and in my opinion detrimental for resolving the original injury or trauma.  When a therapist “works on” or trigger points the psoas they do so because the muscle is tight and they hope to release its tension pattern.  However they do not understand that it is tight for a reason and that as bio-intelligent tissue, the psoas is protecting a deeper injury and dysfunction – most often overstretched or torn ligaments.  Manually releasing the tissue often bruises the supple, dynamic and expressive  psoas and may retraumatize the already vulnerable core.  If their is “relief”,  it is short lived.

The psoas protects the midline and is simply a messenger – so don’t shoot the messenger! When ligaments are torn or over stretched, the psoas compensates to protect midline integrity (the central nervous system).  It is tight for a reason and over time, due to misuse, can become dry and shrink, thus causing even more sensations of tension. However, as soon as the original dysfunction is resolved, the tissue we call psoas will let go.  Invasive, direct, and even “gentle” psoas manipulations go against the muscle’s natural defense response. As part of the flight/fight and freeze response, such approaches can drive the original dysfunction deeper.

To recover, I recommend constructive rest position every day, and suggest that you read my books, articles or tele-classes to understand how to heal your original imbalance or injury.  A workshop or retreat will provide direct experience in rebalancing and healing the spinal injuries while you regain a supple dynamic psoas muscle.

ira harris
Posted on February 18th, 2009 | Permalink

hello liz i just read your article and this question by someone writting in. question: i believe i injured my psoas mor the left than the right. about a 1 1/2 years ago i pushed 800 lbs of cement on a dolly to home depot i felt the top of my quad tear but pushed on. sometimes running out of steam and digging in i pushed approx 70 feet. i did a couple of other stupid things since but now am trying to rebuild all the torn muscles.
i had and have problems every were but am feeling better. xrays show no disc herniation or anything abnormal. my lower back used to be splitting but now is better just weeknes and some pain. i believe the psoas was an injured musle in this
situation. i have been going for massage to break down the scar tissue that has formed you write that some times you have to get rid of other injured areas before you release the psoas. does it sound like i have these issues i have hamstring quad, and adductor scar tissue that has been worked on . do you know of a good practitioner on long island n.y. or queens

Elke Riesterer
Posted on March 18th, 2009 | Permalink

Dear Liz,
it has been a long time since we talked…ages! I am looking up Psoas matters for my best friend. She needs this work and I helped her in my last session giving her some nice relief.
Do you see clients? And where and when is your next workshop?
My friend lives in Walnut Creek but she could come down to S.C.
I recommended your book and I am searching for it in my house too.
Let me know and hope all is well

Liz Koch
Posted on May 5th, 2009 | Permalink

Great to hear from you! Are you still massaging elephants? My next workshop in California is May 16 and 17.

Liz Koch
Posted on March 28th, 2010 | Permalink

I recommend people go to my LINKS page for people who have studied with me. As for healing the psoas well come to my New York Psoas Workshop in October 2010 and meanwhile spend time in CRP. Once the pelvis is balanced the psoas will be free to move. As long as their is imbalances in the pelvis you will have psoas problems. If you read my article called The Fluid Core ( free on my articles page) you will discover that fetal is a also a great healing position and is powerful in its capacity to energize recovery.

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