I’m going to paint a picture for you….
It’s below zero outside and you’re walking to work from the El with shoulders up to your ears and hands tucked tightly into your pockets, trying to avoid the freezing cold temperatures from taking you over. You FINALLY get to work after feeling like you were outside for HOURS (when in reality it was really only ten minutes! ;), the next thing you know you hop onto your computer with coffee (with little or no water) by your side, and you go to town with your online work; all the while your shoulders hike up back up to your ears while your head darts forward staring at what’s in front of you.*
*Repeat this WHOLE scenario in reverse on your commute home and social media time on your phone from your couch.
Next step, wash up, try to find a comfortable position in bed (sans supportive pillows) and what happens next….
…..you wake up in the morning with a massive kink in your neck that leaves you paralyzed, unable to look anywhere but forward!
It’s at this time when you rush to your computer or phone to see if I, your trusted massage therapist, has any last minute openings because you’re in terrible pain only to find that my next opening isn’t for another couple of weeks.
What to do!?
First of all, don’t let this happen to you.
Second of all, little tidbit, it’s not a good idea to shrug your shoulders and stuff your hands in your pockets while walking outside in subzero temperatures. Your body warms up much faster when you’re not wearing shoulder earrings and your arms are free to swing back and forth.
Why would you do this?
Because it’s a workshop where YOU get to learn how to take care of YOU!
Not that I don’t want to work with you when you’re in pain. I LOVE working with you! The reality is, sometimes I can’t right away because I’m working with another.
So what’s the next best thing!?
Learn how to take care of yourself so you can prevent the above scenario from taking over your life and/or treat yourself in the event it does.
Check out the details below and I hope to see you there on Thursday!
This month, I’m going to get personal with you.
During the last 13 years, working as a bodyworker and a massage therapist; many people have asked me, “What do you do to stay so healthy?” I also may receive comments like, “You are the most Zen person I know.” or in a question form, “Are you calm ALL the time?”
The truth of the matter is, yes, I do things to keep myself as healthy as humanly possible, and, no, I am not calm ALL the time!
One of the reasons why I professionally got into the world of bodywork and healing was to actually learn how to heal myself from chronic injuries during my previous career as a dancer. Providing manual therapy and teaching others how to take care of themselves, was the other, obvious reason, I went into this field.
This all said, one of the things I’ve learned along the way is that receiving bodywork is not a vehicle to become more peaceful and Zen-like, ALL the time; but rather an opportunity to break the fight & flight response in order to feel into one’s body and help one become more alive in the process!
To me, living fully and being alive in this world is not only about feeling good, it’s about living fully. Living fully covers a whole array of emotions and experiences, not just the peaceful ones.
Think of my practice’s logo. It depicts the human body/being, alive and moving freely with all of the colors of the chakra system represented in the watercolor painting behind and within the body’s image. This represents life and, in my experience, life is not just about arriving to a fully healed destination; but rather it’s a series of ebb and flow events and occurrences, and how we deal with these situations that arise in our world, helps us determine our destinies. When we are healthy, it becomes easier to move through the experiences life brings into our world.
3 1/2 years ago, when I turned 35, something happened in my life, and my body, that I wasn’t expecting. Within a month’s time, my energy levels dwindled to the point where it was a consistent challenge getting out of bed in the morning. I would hit my snooze alarm for up to an hour each day and even then, I had to give myself a talking to, just to get out of bed. Once I got out of bed, I didn’t have the energy to exercise or do much of anything except get ready for work, go to work, come home and sleep. As a result of this lethargy and lack of exercise, I gained 20 pounds and was at the heaviest weight I had ever been.
Being someone who has had healthy eating habits throughout the majority of my life, I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. I wasn’t able read my body’s signals and I knew I needed help, so I saw my doctor for some bloodworm and soon found out that I was developing, hypothyroidism.
Surprised at this revelation, I was at the same time relieved because I knew I could do something about this. I worked closely with my doctor to bring my thyroid functioning back into balance. After a few months, my energy levels started to increase. I was able to get out of bed with more ease and less snooze and exercise was a daily habit again.
It felt good to be living in a body that felt more familiar to me. The one hurdle I couldn’t seem to get over was the fact that I was still carrying the extra 20 pounds I gained, and healthy eating and all, I couldn’t seem to lose those pounds.
I brought this concern up to one of my chiropractors and he suggested doing a cleanse.
Now, I don’t know about you, but anytime I had participated in a cleanse in the past I usually did so feeling quite deprived during the process only to binge on food once the cleanse was completed. Yes, there is a healing crisis that can occur during a cleanse where you feel worse before you get better as the old, toxic build up that is in our systems start to flush through. This is to be expected. I just could never get through the deprivation hump that lead me to gorge on food after all was said and done.
Reluctantly, I decided to follow, the suggestion out of result of having much respect for his professional experience and work he had previously done with me. One week later I found myself starting a cleanse called; Clean, Burn & Shape.
To my surprise, after a couple of days of feeling funky as things were moving through and out of my system; I found myself actually enjoying the 10 day cleanse as a result of actually feeling nourished and energized throughout. The amount of food that I was able to eat, along with the supplements and shakes seemed to compliment my body’s needs rather than deprive them.
Needless to say, I felt great and lost 7 pounds during those 10 days. Another surprise that followed is that my body was actually craving healthy foods and smaller portions after the cleanse was over. Flash forward 6 months post cleanse, the 20 pounds I gained, once my thyroid started malfunctioning, was now gone due to the healthier and more energized habits I worked so hard to accomplish.
I share this experience with you in response to the numerous questions I receive, like the one I shared earlier in this story. I am also sharing this with you to invite you to join me in on this cleanse at the start of the spring season that’s just around the corner. Contact me directly and/or check out the shop page to learn more!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease.
It’s 2:45 in the afternoon and it starts. Suffocating pain in the back of your neck that does not want to let go.
It makes its way up the back of your spine, and yanks at the muscles at the base of your skull.
You have a deadline to make at 4pm, so you keep typing, ignoring the unpleasant sensations that are starting to distract you from your work. You think to yourself, “What choice do I have? I have to get this done!”
As you keep chugging along and typing away, it seems the tension also keeps chugging along as it begins to tighten like a vice lock around the top of your neck. Crushing pressure moves its way up towards your temples and starts to set in behind your eyes, and it becomes painful to look at the computer monitor.
You attempt to rub your neck and temples hoping it will all go away. It does, but only temporarily and only to come back in even greater fury as your head begins to throb. This throbbing makes it harder to concentrate and you find yourself feeling that the day cannot end soon enough.
Does this paint a familiar picture?
Have you been in this position before only to find yourself feeling frustrated and disempowered because, even with your efforts (no matter how great or small), the pain just won’t go away?
What do you think if I told you that you don’t need to live and work this way?
What if there were tools to help you take care of yourself that can either prevent a scenario like this from occurring or help alleviate the tension, if it already started to tighten up?
There is a way to take care of yourself and there are tools that can help!
These tools are what I share with you in, The Art of Letting Go / A Myofascial Release Self Care Workshop Series.
In this workshop, you will learn how to release fascial restrictions that, in the words of my myofascial release mentor, John F. Barnes, can place up to 2000 lbs of pressure per square inch.
Did you see that correctly!?
Restrictions in the fascial tissue can create up to 2000 lbs of pressure per square inch! That’s roughly 2-3 full grown horses placing pressure on 1 square inch of your body’s tissue!
The beautiful thing is, there ARE ways to release this crushing pressure. Yes, one of those ways is to receive a myofascial release session and another way is to learn how to self treat these restrictions in order to help maintain the work you received in session, prevent restrictions from occurring, and empower yourself to self treat restrictions as they arise.
The workshop I created is a series that will cover releasing tension patterns in specific areas of the body with the use of foam rollers, therapeutic balls, stretching and therapeutic movement.
I know many of you have foam rollers and don’t know what to do with them! This workshop will teach you the tools how to use them the way they were meant to be used.
Overall, this series is specifically designed to empower you and help you take an active role in your health and wellbeing.
As I’ve said before, I’m not here to heal you. It’s not my job to heal you. What IS my job, is to help you discover the ancient healer that resides within you! We all have him or her within us and all we need to do is access that part of ourselves in order to lead a life of energy and vitality.
I invite you to walk through this door with me and discover this healer within yourself, for yourself!
Changes. They start off small, the long lasting one’s at least.
Change can come suddenly, without warning or possibly slowly overtime and anywhere in between.
Little did I know that 2017 would be a year of change for me. Change that is starting off small.
Let me share with you….
Last year was a year of ambitious undertakings that came from a place of calling and from a place of passion.
It all started with a desire to deepen the skills I brought to each individual bodywork session; then out of a need for women to connect and heal in community, my desire lead me to use my women’s circle facilitation training to create a monthly women’s circle called, The Chakra Movement, and as the fourth quarter of 2016 came around, a desire to help others learn self care techniques based on myofascial release principles lead me to create, The Art of Letting Go/Myofascial Release Self Care Series.
These endeavors were nothing short of fulfilling and satisfying, as they were a reflection of bringing visions I had, passion and drive to life.
Let’s face it, I’ve had an ambitious drive ever since I could remember. For crying out loud, one NEEDS drive (and dedication to match) if they’re going to pursue a career as a professional dancer as I did in my late teens and twenties!
While the external activities may look different, the drive that I’ve felt inside has never changed….until now.
As many of you know, I was fortunate to live a 20 year long dream of traveling to Australia at the end of 2016. Not only did I get to live a dream, this dream was experienced on the other side of the world, in a completely different hemisphere than the country I currently call home and it also happened to be in a place where summer is in December rather than the wintertime that I’m used to.
As my chiropractor said, “You were figuratively, and somewhat literally, turned inside out and turned upside down!”
Traveling to a country where life is flipped around from the environmental factors one is used to, does have it’s effects!
The effect that traveling to Australia had on me was an opportunity to step FAR AWAY from my daily life as I knew it and allowed me an opportunity to experience another point of view regarding my day to day.
While I had an immense appreciation for my life back home in Chicago and the many wonderful things I created throughout the year, I also realized that my ambitious undertakings were taking it’s toll on me.
The toll felt like it could be costly if I continued to pursue this overly driven way of life much longer.
Before embarking on the journey overseas, I started to realize that I felt exhausted and I wasn’t actually feeling my way through life, I was just going through the motions feeling more concerned with crossing things off of my to-do list rather than involving myself in daily activities that actually fed my soul.
Why am I sharing all of this with you?
There are a couple of reasons. For one, I truly believe and have said it many times before that if you cannot help yourself, you cannot help anyone else, effectively anyway. And with this very real reminder that I was experiencing while overseas, led me to realize that I was about to embark on a journey in 2017 that very much mirrored 2016. I was planning to continue working with private clients full time, start a new women’s circle called, The Goddess Within, and continue The Art of Letting Go series once every month throughout the new year.
When I saw this schedule during my days in another country, my soul was crying out to stop the madness! All my soul really wants at this time is to go deeper. Deeper into myself, deeper into my connection with life, deeper with my connection to the work I do, deeper in my relationships and the like.
If I spread myself too thin, there’s no space or ability to go deep. Many of us live this way.
All this said, I returned home with a new sense of purpose and a list a changes I needed to make. The main change that would have a direct effect on anyone reading this is that I am postponing, The Goddess Within Circle for Women. I cannot facilitate a circle about Goddess work, if I myself don’t feel like a goddess because I’m spread too thin to actually live a feminine principle of being in life rather than pummeling through life!
I will still continue teaching, The Art of Letting Go series, as I live this work and doesn’t feel like too much of a stretch to continue sharing it with others.
And now, with that one small change, I have time open to rest, to be, to read, to write, to laugh with loved ones, to cook delicious foods, to focus on deepening my bodywork studies and the like.
This small change is already having a profound impact by enhancing the relationship I have with myself. I feel more quietly comfortable in my skin as a result of owning where I am at rather than thinking I should be doing something different with/in my life. My relationships are improving as I have more quality time for them. These are just to name of couple of improvements I’m already experiencing.
If you were planning on participating in the circle, please know when the time is right, another one will be offered. I cannot give you a time frame on this because when the next one starts, it’s going to come at a time and from a place that calls me to offer one again. This calling cannot have a timeline on it because it needs to be felt.
If you, yourself are experiencing ambitious overdrive and overload, is there one thing that you can change to give yourself some space? A moment of reprieve. It could be anything from waking up a few minutes early everyday to meditate, saying the word “no” from time to time or even hand off a part of a project to someone else who can get it done.
It can be as simple of a change as you would like it to be.
A simple change can have a profound impact on your life.
At this moment I invite you to join me. Join me and take a moment to step away from your busy life.
It won’t take long, just a few moments.
Okay, now come with me and take this time to imagine what it would be like to feel good in your body.
No aches and no pains. No nagging tension lingering in the back of your neck from too much computer work. No carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders while your traps throb.
Just ease. Plain ease in your body with every movement that you make. You feel light, open and free. Nothing is weighing you down and you feel able to move around in anyway you please.
Do you believe that this is possible? Even just for a moment?
If you answered, “no,” not to worry, you’re in good company as many people in our current society rarely state that they feel good in their body on a regular basis, but today I’m here to tell you, it is possible.
I know that you’re shaking your head as you read this. Come on, you don’t believe me? Honestly, I didn’t even believe myself once upon a time and yet, through experience, life taught me what I just told you….it is possible.
You see, several years ago, I was living in consistent pain. Mind you, I had a very active first career as a dancer but I found myself consistently in more pain or experiencing more injuries compared to the countless dancers I performed with. I couldn’t understand it. I didn’t understand why was I always getting injured and they weren’t.
I would wake up in the morning, on the daily, feeling uncomfortable in my body. Sore and achy from hours of rehearsal the day prior, wasn’t an unusual occurrence, yet the constant throbbing and swelling that would live in my knees were what was concerning me. I wanted to know the secret as to why other dancers could move with less pain or free of pain and I couldn’t.
I would constantly ask myself, why was my body doing this to me?
What I found during my search was this…my body wasn’t doing anything to me. My body was just sending me signals that I was living out of balance and I needed a course correction.
What I also learned about myself during this exploration, was that I didn’t give my body time to stop to rest and heal. I would constantly place demands on it by going, going, going and by the time I got home I was so exhausted that I would just crash!
My body was crying out for help.
It was telling me that I needed to take time to consciously rest.
Consciously rest? I used to think to myself, what does that mean?
It means making a conscious effort to slow down and offer our bodies time to get out of fight and flight mode and move into rest and digest mode. This rest allows the body’s natural healing processes to take over and counteract the effects of strenuous demands.
It also meant, for me, that I needed to move my body in such a way where tension that was built up in the fascial tissue, had an opportunity to release.
This is where the foam roller, therapeutic balls and therapeutic movement came into play.
Consistently laying on the balls or roller helped my tissues melt and release. Over time, not only did I start to feel better with practicing self care in this manner, along with receiving myofascial treatments from a MFR therapist; it also allowed me to feel a sense of empowerment. I wasn’t taking the pain lying down anymore. I was doing something about it in a constructive way. I no longer walked around wondering why my body was making me hurt, but rather, I started thanking my body for helping me move in the right direction.
These myofascial release tools are here to help you, help yourself.
Here are some other tools:
- Pause and take a deep breath in through your nose, then slowly exhale out through your mouth
- Take a walk outside and get some fresh air
- Schedule a massage, myofascial release or bodywork session
- Expand your self care knowledge by participating in workshops and put those techniques to use
If you consistently take time to practice these simple suggestions, over time, you will find yourself empowered and living from a place of understanding that your body is not doing anything to you, it’s just trying to help you pay attention. And when you pay attention, miracles can happen and a decrease in pain becomes a side effect of taking care of yourself.
You can do it. I did, even when I thought it wasn’t possible. Just make the choice to do so and see for yourself!
Do you believe you’re a broken machine who needs fixing?
I’m here to tell you that you are not broken, dear one.
You don’t need to be fixed. Even if you literally have a broken bone in your body, you, a human being, are not broken. Most of us are so stuck in our heads, as a result of the consistent demands in life, that we often forget the fact that we’re not robotic machines.
Instead we are magnificent beings who are capable of feeling and who also have the innate capacity, within each one of us, to heal.
So when people come to me and say “fix me” or “heal me” My response to them is, “no”. I am not here to “fix” you, nor do I have the ability to “heal” you!
I’m not healing you… it’s a facilitation. What I am here to do is help you tap into that healing place that’s already within you.
For example, many clients apologize to me during a session when their stomach growls. My response to them is, please don’t apologize, “the louder the better!”
When you receive a session and your stomach growls, that’s a signal to us that your body is out of the fight and flight response and has entered into the rest and digest phase. When you and your body feel safe and in a space to let your guard down, that’s when the sympathetic nervous system (fight and flight) takes a back seat and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) kicks in. When the parasympathetic nervous system is in charge; nerve function becomes regulated and this contributes to proper absorption of nutrients, efficient digestive activity, calmed nerves and normalized heart rate.
When our body’s physiological responses start to slow down, we can then enter a state of feeling; and as one of my mentors, John F. Barnes, states, “we have to feel it to heal it” or “the key to healing is feeling.”
Yet so many people are afraid to feel. Yes, it can be scary or uncomfortable at first to feel sensations in your body, in your mind and in your being that you haven’t felt before; yet when we give into the fear we end up running away from the feeling or brace ourselves against the sensation. This bracing or disassociation only creates more pain. Pain is a signal from our bodies to stop and listen and course correct.
When we actually stop, listen to the pain or sensations that arise, we can then begin to dance with what’s coming up and go into it.
Going into the feeling is what transforms it.
Running from it or fighting it only strengthens it.
So instead of coming in for a session expecting me to heal you or fix you; I request that you to come in with the intention to reconnect with the human in you. The human that is not perfect. The human that has feels, the human that breathes through life, wants to live life and not just be a taskmaster checking their to do list off. The human that can switch gears into the parasympathetic nervous system. The human that can “feel it in order to heal it (John F Barnes)”. That’s when you can authentically heal.
Let my work be a guide for you on this healing journey and if you need further assistance through what is coming up, I’m well connected with other healing and healthcare professionals to refer you to. You’re not alone in this.
Another way to look at it is, the body is a barometer of how we feel in our lives.
This is not a new idea, metaphysics talks about it all the time, but I want people to recognize that when we work together, we’re fine tuning your barometer. When you’re stuck in your head all day long, it’s challenging to make anything better because you’re so disconnected from the vessel you’re in. How in the world can you make changes in your life if you’re not connected?
You can only think your way through life so much.
Now is the time to feel your way through life.
Whether we Chicagoans like it or not, it’s starting to get cold outside! And what happens when the weather turns? You guessed it, colds and the flu!
“What do I do when I’m starting to not feel well?” “What do I do about my session if I’m sick?”
These two questions are usually at the forefront this time of year at my practice. And the following is a general rule of thumb that I share with clients:
When in doubt, don’t!
If you’re starting to feel under the weather or in the midst of a full blown cold or flu, cancel your session and reschedule it. “Why?” you ask. Your body’s immune system is already working hard to bring you back into a state of good health, now if you add a myofascial release or deep tissue massage session on top of that, your body is now going to be working double time to release toxins through the lymphatic system, increase circulation through the cardiovascular system and release tension or hold holding patterns through the fascial, muscular and skeletal systems. How is this double time action going to make you feel?
10x worse than you’re already feeling!
So do yourself a favor and stay home, rest up and reschedule your session. You’ll be able to enjoy your session so much more when you’re not trying to stop a runny nose from leaking all over the floor when you’re lying face down and the after effects will be much more enjoyable to experience.
Not to mention…
When you come in for your session with a cold or flu, you also run the risk of getting me, your therapist, sick as well as fellow clients. Everyone, especially including you, will benefit when you stay home and rest up in order to get well.
So do yourself and all of us a favor…
Call and reschedule your session*. You’ll be so happy that you did!
*Please keep in mind my practice’s 24 hour cancellation policy. Everyone receives a 1st time freebee session if a cancellation takes place in less than 24 hours notice. A full charge for the session goes into effect if a 2nd time occurs or there after. As I am human, possible exceptions may be made on a case by case basis if illness comes across your path this fall/winter.
Do you walk around noticing how many of us are on our cell phones these days? Instead of looking at each other or the world around us, the vast majority of us have our heads down looking at our cellular or wireless devices in front of us.
While the convenience of wireless devices makes life easier on some levels, if misused, it can wreak havoc on other levels.
Enter the modern day term: ‘text neck.’
Text neck refers to the pain and injuries that can occur when an individual looks down at their cellular device for too long. When the human head is in a forward position for a period of time, it can place undue strain on the neck, shoulders and spine and create ailments such as disc herniation, chronic headaches and shoulder pain, to name a few.
How can this daily activity create such pain?
The human head is like a bowling ball that rests on top of our neck and weighs about 12 pounds on average. In a recent article, The Washington Post, points out that depending on the angle that our head is being held, the original weight of the head can increase causing more tension on the spinal vertebra. For example, if the head is at a 15 degree angle, the head weighs about 27 pounds and at a 60 degree angle the head weighs about 60 pounds. The more pounds resting on our neck, the greater amount of tension is placed on it, increasing the opportunity for injury.
Are there ways to prevent text neck?
There are several things you can do to prevent text neck, here are a few:
* Place your head at a zero degree angle and hold your phone up to you instead of looking down at it.
* Stretch and strengthen your neck and shoulders on a regular basis (a physical therapist or personal trainer can help with this or there are wonderful resources online).
* Receive regular massage therapy, myofascial release or craniosacral sessions (hint, hint!;).
Prevent your neck from turning into text neck by incorporating these self care techniques today.
The Root of the Matter
This past May, I found myself traveling to Madison, WI for a weekend long seminar on myofascial release through the, John F. Barnes Myofascial Release Seminars (http://www.myofascialrelease.com), series called ‘Fascial-Pelvis’. We spent the weekend learning that when you help to correct imbalances in the pelvic girdle and surrounding structures, such as the illiopsoas muscle; balance can start to occur throughout the whole body because the pelvis is a main fulcrum point in the human body. For example, if you experience symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction, chances are likely that similar tension patterns are present in the hips.
Stated several times during the workshop was the phrase, “find the pain, look elsewhere for the cause.” This statement is a foundational teaching in the John F. Barnes Myofascial Release Approach because everything is connected within the body through the fascial system (or commonly known as connective tissue) and what may be occurring as painful symptoms on the surface may not necessarily be the root cause.
For a moment, I invite you to imagine the fascia as a spiderweb that embeds and interconnects everything, down to the tiniest cell, in the body. When one end of the spiderweb is pulled out of place, what happens? The rest of the spiderweb follows suit. Same as the fascial tissue. When one area of the fascia is pulled out of place or traumatized, it starts to pull the rest of the tissue in it’s path along with it and as a result, the symptomatic pain is the fascia that followed along for the ride rather than the original place of trauma. Not always is this the case, but generally speaking this is a common example of what can occur.
Now that you have a basic idea of how the fascia generally affects the body; treating just the symptomatic pain can create immediate pain relief but no long lasting effects. Treating the symptomatic pain along with the root cause can not only help to create short term pain relief but also long term beneficial changes in the body to help prevent the symptomatic pain from reoccurring again.
With this all said, “find the pain, look elsewhere for the cause,” is one of the reasons why I’ve fallen in love with the John F. Barnes Myofascial Release Approach as a practitioner and as a client. Not only have I experienced long term pain relief myself but I’ve also witnessed this with you as well. As a result, myosfacial release will be making a larger presence at my practice now and for years to come.
Uncovering the Mysteries of the Illiopsoas Muscle
The illiopsoas muscle is making a name for itself in many sessions as of late and I am writing this article to share some more information on it in an effort to shed light on what it is, where it is located in the body and why it is an important muscle to address in session with regard to certain ailments such as low back pain.
First of all, the illiopsoas muscle is not just one muscle, it’s actually two. The illiacus is one muscle and the psoas major is the other muscle that make up the illiopsoas. The reason why they are often referred to as one muscle is because they share the same tendon that attaches into the lesser trochanter of the femur bone. In layman’s terms, the inside of the thigh bone.
To go into further anatomical depth, the psoas major originates from the vertebrae T-12 through L-5 and runs anterior (in front of) the ilium bone (part of the pelvic girdle) and inserts into the lessor trochanter of the femur (as stated above). The psoas major is the deepest muscle in the human body and is the only muscle that connects our upper body to our lower body. Wow! Let me repeat that, it is the ONLY muscle that connects our upper body to our lower body! What a load of responsibility this muscle has! It sounds heavy, however if we learn to work with this muscle and help it stay healthy, it can also bring about much satisfaction with how we feel in our body. More on that later.
The illiacus muscle originates at the entire surface of the internal iliac fossa (the anterior portion of the ilium bone mentioned above) and the inferior (lower) portion of the muscle has fibers that connect with those of the psoas and then insert into the lessor trochanter of the femur. While the illiacus muscle isn’t the deepest muscle or only muscle to connect our upper and lower body, it is still important to keep in good health due to its direct relationship to the psoas major.
What does the illiopsoas muscle do? It stabilizes the trunk of our bodies, keeping us upright. It flexes our trunk so we can stretch our upper bodies over our legs and it flexes our hip to our chest so we can (for example) lift our legs to walk. The positioning of the illiopsoas helps to create a cradle for our internal organs. If the posas is out of alignment, this will affect organ placement and thus disrupt organ function.
Also, I learned from reading, The Psoas Book, by Liz Koch that the psoas muscle has a direct link to the reptilian brain which governs our fight and flight response in the body. Because of this, it is the first muscle to contract when the fight and flight response is in place. And while we are most likely not running away from bears who are about to eat us in our modern day society, stress acts out in a fight and flight matter. So no matter if it’s an internal or external stimulus activating fight or flight, the psoas muscle will contract if the brain signals it to.
When this muscle is in a state of contraction, it can pull at the lumbar vertebrae and thus create discomfort that is usually felt in the low back. Releasing the illiopsoas muscle can provide tremendous relief for low back pain. On that note, some people see me who are experiencing “tension deep within the front the hip”. What could be a cause of this? You guessed it, the illiopsoas! Some other ailments that the illiopsoas can contribute to are the following: sciatica, scoliosis, hip pain, SI joint misalignment, knee pain and it can even contribute to menstrual cramping during a woman’s monthly.
If you suspect the illiopsoas is causing discomfort, feel free to share with me at your next session and we can address it to see if there’s tension there. In the meantime, feel free to play with a runner’s lunge stretch or Warrior 1 (for those of you who practice yoga!) to help release the muscle through stretch.