Geomorphology of the Body
When humans began standing upright and walking across the plains as bipeds, it completely changed the physics of the musculoskeletal system. Since form follows function when it comes to anatomy, changes to our musculature were inevitable. The hip’s primary flexor (that muscle which bends you at the waist), the psoas, is of particular interest when looking at the dynamics of lower back pain. Compared to the longer psoas of our gorilla cousins, human psoas muscles are quite short. Some functional anatomist hypothesize that muscles that shorten due to evolutionary changes tighten more easily. Look at the picture below. The one on the right may look familiar as you start observing posture. It may even be you! Or someone you know. This pain syndrome is seen commonly with people who sit a lot, who are “out of shape”, or deconditioned.
You may remember from and earlier Blog post on Shoulders (3/2012), the Upper Cross Syndrome that occurs in the shoulders was discussed. Here we have the Lower Cross Syndrome at the hips. When the psoas is tight, the gluteus maximus, hamstrings and abdominal muscles become inhibited, meaning they loose tone and lengthen, becoming weaker. This is another example of Sherrington’s law of reciprocal inhibition. Cool! Or not. Painful – yes. Over time pain can be debilitating. The resulting lower back and pelvic imbalances perpetuate decreased function, restricted movement, and even possible organ dysfunction.
Restoration of Freedom
The good news is that when clients with this posture are in pain, the treatment is fairly straight forward. In many cases, a combination of deep tissue massage, stretching and strengthening exercises can restore function and pain free hips and back.