In a previous article we explored using a Physical Therapy Roll for working on the upper back. A firm closed cell foam cylinder, the physical therapy roll can be used for a variety of self-care exercises. If you don’t have one you can take a blanket and roll it up into a cylinder at least 6 inches in diameter and as wide as your body. If you choose to use a blanket be sure to roll it up tightly so that it won’t compress much. In this issue we will use the same tool to work on the abdomen and particularly the Psoas muscle.
One way to work on the Psoas is to lay face down with the Physical Therapy Roll underneath your abdomen. Starting with the roll just below the ribcage allow your body to relax into it. Then roll forward slightly and let it sink in again. Work your way all the way down to the pubic bone. Do this slowly and gently using your breath to help facilitate relaxation. The goal is to relax enough so that the roll can sink all the way to the spine. Work your way back up the pelvis and abdomen then back down again. At first this will be nearly impossible but in time the abdomen and pelvis will become more supple and mobile. Never do this with a full stomach and if you feel undo pain discontinue the exercise, this does after all push on the guts quite a bit.
In time you will find that this exercise becomes easier and you will be able to add more movement. Try lifting one leg and then the other or bending the knees and gently swing the legs from side to side as you work down the torso. You can finish off by doing the ‘cobra’ and the ‘warrior’ yoga poses, both of which stretch the Psoas. This exercise is very difficult but the rewards are great. You will discover new freedom of motion in your waist, pelvis and back. Often digestive problems will decline because of the massaging action on the intestines, which are also lined with muscle and suspended by fascia.
Remember that self-care does not take the place of professional health care. Be sure to consult a Physician or Chiropractor if you are in pain or suspect that you have an injury.