You have tight hips, so what? Truth behind the psoas release mystery

If you have been told by a chiropractor or physiotherapist that you need to correct your excessively lordotic posture, check out our article on anterior pelvic tilt

Are you experiencing “tight” hip flexors or psoas muscles?

Perhaps you are looking for some one to release them for you?

What if I told you that it might just quite literally be impossible?

How do I find my psoas muscle?

Physio Network just posted a video of a cadaver dissection to show how deep the psoas muscle is in the body. If you haven’t seen it, check it out here (thank God for social media).

The video is great because not only does it show how difficult it is to get to the psoas (even when the body is dissected into separate parts), it also somewhat shows how tough your tissues are – i.e. they don’t just fall apart because some one is manhandling them.

The moral of the story? 1) It’s impossible for any manual therapist to be able to reach your psoas muscle no matter what they say or think they are doing. 2) Your muscles aren’t going to “release” just because some one is prodding at it. They are super tough!

But why does it feel so good to have my hip flexors released?

chiropractor singapore, tight psoas, psoas release, tight hip flexors
Marcus from Wakemusters having his low back assessed. Very often sensation or perception of tightness doesn’t translate to an actual shortening of muscle length – i.e. no significant loss in range of motion.

Most likely because of touch and the contextual therapeutic effects associated with touch.

You already know touch can make your pain feels better.

Think about it, what do you do when you hit your forehead? You’ll probably give it a gentle rub. The same applies to when you knock your elbow against the wall.

In both instances you feel better even though nothing changed. The degree of “injury” or “damage” is the same. In the ten seconds you spend rubbing the sore areas, you feel better even though the rubbing did nothing to speed up recovery.

We also know this from research: touch induces analgesia.

Healing touch is a thing, even in clinical studies

A study published this year compared the effects of healing touch to medication among lower back patients. The study found that touch as an intervention does improve pain experience among people with low back pain.

Fascinating, isn’t it?

However, it should be noted that improving one’s pain experiencing (i.e. makes it less painful, reduce the frequency or duration of the pain) is not the same as achieving pain-free living.

If you are experiencing “tight” hip flexors or psoas muscle, we suggest that you speak to an evidence based chiropractor or physiotherapist about it.

The first thing to establish is if you have actual tight hip flexors or is the tightness you are experiencing a perception of tightness (i.e. no real change in muscle length)?

From there, he or she will be able to make better recommendations on what you should do to achieve full recovery.

Pro tip: stretching doesn’t work. We have discussed it extensively in our article on stretching vs. strength training.