A must read for desk workers

(subtitle) – Psoas

So who? Who’s what? almost, its called Psoas. So what?

I know we all love a bit of time sitting at a desk, or at least we’ve learned to love it, until we have saved up enough for a treadmill desk (more on that in the future). Whilst we are sitting we have a muscle that (effectively) attaches our hip to the inside of our low back. This muscle is called Psoas. It doesn’t stand (er, sit) alone, it has a colleague called Iliacus, or its ill-cuz…(Maybe I’m alone in that mnemonic).

Now if you’re sitting comfortably pull yourself forward so that your spine, moves forward. Then relax back in your chair. The muscle that pulled you forward – Psoas. Ah ha – no thought I know what you were talking about, but nope – nothing.

So this muscle (with its colleague), works to keep you sitting upright, even with the perfect chair and low back support. But without the proper chair it has to work really hard. (Just imagine all those years on shocking school chairs).

As it works all day it shortens and tightens, putting pressure on the inside of the low back and causing other muscles to tighten, and yet others to loosen, creating a pattern of tension.

If you want you can get a lot more technical, by considering the work of Vladmir Janda and nerve supplies and relative muscle tensions, however if you want that level of detail please request it in the comments box below, I’ll gladly send it to you.

For now, lets keep it simple. Sitting all day overworks the Psoas muscle which puts pressure on the inside of the low back, causing low back stiffness and pain. If not yet, or now, then some day and possibly for the rest of your life, you’ll feel it.

I talk about this muscle to a lot patients as it is often a complicating factor in the recovery and ultimately in the optimal function of the spine.

So, how do we overcome the curse of the wretched Psoas tension? hmm hmmmm? Tell us Gary, TELL US!! Ok ok, hold your horses, were coming to that. (hold your horses, what a great phrase, and if you do, I can help you with that shoulder problem).

Stretch it. Boo hiss I hear you cry, don’t make me work for my own health, I want YOU to fix it and ME to be well. Ok, I hear you, but this is a MUST. You Must stretch. Its not a case like you should stretch, or it would be better to stretch, something that you may get around to one day, like giving up sugar or drinking lime in hot water instead of coffee, but in fact you must s t r e t c h!! 3 minutes, it can be done whilst watching Eastenders…

Ok, ok but YAWN – stretching is so BORING. Unlike cleaning your teeth which is a riveting activity I look forward to as soon as I wake up, or the commute to work, YIPPEE!! – Yes, its not a night at the theatre or eating dinner with your friends/family, but it is a necessary requirement of looking after YOUR body.

So how to do it? Well the video will follow.

If you cannot wait, please set up a time to come by the clinic, it will only take five minutes. No problem. No fee. Failing that I have a PDF which I will gladly forward to you, however I find immediate feedback on technique to be very useful.

So, in conclusion, this stretch, the learning and the application of this stretch is not strictly chiropractic in the purest sense, however it is knowledge that I have, that I guarantee will improve your health (that ill-cuz of Psoas attaches to the diaphragm and can affect breathing) and reduce low back pain, so I wanted to share it.

Have fun, practice daily, and build up to 3 sets of twenty second holds on each side, or? OR, SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES!!!

I hope you enjoyed this blog on posture and low back pain, and please remember to leave any comments.

Dr Gary Blackwood

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2 Responses to A must read for desk workers

  1. Mike Rogers says:

    Hi Gary,
    Strange timing, but I have been thinking lately of giving you a visit. I sit most of the day in the classic ‘C curve’ at my desk and seem to have a sciatic nerve problem that give me a sharp pain and pins & needles in my upper right thigh and problems with my right foot. Maybe the two unpronounceable muscles are really paying me back (no pun intended!). The PDF would be a good start if you don’t mind sending it.

  2. Gail Walshe says:

    “don’t make me work for my own health”. I love this statement Gary, I think it sums up a major affliction of society now that people look to the outside to get “fixed”. Great article.

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