Okay. The title is corny...but by now, to my regulars, would you expect anything different? (hugs!!!!) ;) Anyways...
The Psoas muscle is a very important and nefarious player in the realm of back pain. It is difficult to address because its location is on the FRONT of the spine and travels down to insert on the inside of the inner region of the hip. In other words, picture scooping out all the intestinal matter from the gut and peering in to the hole left behind will show you where this creature exists. It is deeply hidden, and unfortunately, deemed a "bad guy" when its function goes away. It has an accomplice in its function and hence, pain-pattern. This muscle is called Iliacus. The dynamic duo, for both good and ill, is called "Iliopsoas" because they work together, and connect in a common place of the inner hip.
(image credit due to BethOhara, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Anterior_Hip_Muscles_2.PNG
Whether from bad posture (sitting or sleeping in fetal-position too long) or injury (flexing at the waist instead of bending at the knees to pick something up), these closely joined muscles are going to let you know when they are NOT happy. "Ooooooh!!!! MY BACK!!!!" is the usual exclamation. Another popular one is, "ooohhhh! MY HIP!!!!" And sometimes, "My leg!!! Why does my leg hurt so bad?!?!" Welp...because they are all connected.
There is not just the 2 kindred muscles of Iliacus and Psoas at work here. There are nine muscles in each butt cheek trying to regulate and substitute for the shaky hip flexor and the subsequent shaky hip rotation left to flop out in the breeze when Iliopsoas aren't doing their jobs. (Seeing as many of us spend way more time sitting on the muscles of the butt than exercising them through upright activity, they are weak, too. If you haven't read it, please click on the following : If Your Back Hurts, It's Usually Your Butt's Fault ).
There are also postural muscles along the spine called "erectors" that are called to do more than what their name-sake is meant to do: keep the spine erect. At this point, we might as well make mention of demanding the poor Quadratus Lumborum muscles do more than what they bargained for. They are housed right behind the nefarious psoas and iliacus muscles, and are screaming, "HEY! We are supposed to raise and lower each hip as needed (like when WALKING). That's it!!!" This creates a perfect storm for perfect back pain. Muscles that are recruited to do more than what they are designed for are going to get tired, and eventually, revolt.
The multitude of needs of my own clients was exacerbated by pleas from readers on another place on the web. It would appear that the problem of treating the Iliopsoas, according to the comments, is finding a therapist who is willing to do it. The reason that many body workers are not able to help is the following:
a.) The actual location of treating the associated trigger points are very "intimate" as they are housed deep within the anterior pelvic to lower belly region which causes pause (and embarrassment) for many a practitioner.
b.) Yes: It is very uncomfortable for the client that has developed some horrid trigger points in this area to live through the initial "OWWW!!!" of even breaching the area of consternation.
The good news is, if (and only "if") the afflicted client can breathe through the initial point of contact until the trigger point is released, it WILL release. Please bear in mind, it didn't get that bad overnight, and there WILL be some homework to do to get a PERMANENT release. A body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body at rest tends to stay at rest. (Just ask Newton.) Nothing will change without effort, of both the therapist AND the client. Read this post to a well-trained body worker. The moment the afflicted back-pain victim finds a therapist who gets it, is the moment that person starts to get out of this horrible kind of pain.
Hope this lights a few beacons to helping some peeps get out of back pain. Bright Blessings. Have a great week! :)
Top Pic: By The original uploader was Harrygouvas at Greek Wikipedia (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons