The connection of Latissimus Dorsi, Psoas and Piriformis and their affect on performance for any seated activity.
Latissimus Dorsi aka The Lats or Lat: involved in adduction (bring close), internal rotation of the arm at the shoulder and forceful depression of the scapula (shoulder blade). It is a large muscle running from the top of the hips (iliac crest) to the upper arm (humerus) A way to picture the lat in action, whenever your arms are out in front of you the lat is the continuous connection from arm to hip.
Psoas aka hip flexor, that pain in my lower back or front of my hip: The psoas is involved in more movement than many realise. It starts on the back at T12 runs along the lateral aspect of the vertebrae through the pelvis and on to the femur.
The psoas is involved in flexing the hip when the spine is fixed (walking, running, horse riding, cycling) increase lumbar lordosis (hollow lower back) when legs are fixed (this can be the cause of the non specific mid to lower back ache when you lay down in bed on you back or stomach).
Piriformis: Pirifomis is used to laterally rotate the thigh; it starts on the sacrum (tail bone) and runs to the greater trochanter (top of femur, upper leg). In a small percentage of the population the sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis. For the rest of us tension through here can cause the sciatic nerve to be irritated. To picture the piriformis in action, think about the way you swing your leg in and out of a car seat. The pirifomis is the main one rotating your upper leg to allow the movement.
Putting it together. We will start in the middle of the body with the roles the psoas and piriformis play. Psoas connects the bottom of the rib cage and lower back to the front of the pelvis and the pirifomis connects and stabilises the bottom of the spine with the hip and leg. An imbalance in the tension between these two opposing muscles can lead to that ache or twinge just off the centre of you lower back when you bend or stand to quickly. The lats are a big triangular muscle connecting the lower back and hips to the arm. Therefore, tension in the piriformis or psoas muscles can compound lat tension. As the lat has a large surface area there is minimal discomfort until you bend and lift something heavy, do some gardening or stand up after a lot of typing, amongst similar activities. The coloured image below illustrates how the body is like triangles sitting on top of each other. The lats connect the arms over the main triangle to the top of the bottom triangle, the psoas connects the middle of the main triangle to the bottom of the lower triangle and the piriformis connects the triangle (which triangle?) to locomotion of the legs. This highlights the benefit of arm swing when walking, allowing the arms to be pendulum to the legs. The image illustrates how the body is like triangles sitting on top of each other. With the lat connecting the arms over the main triangle to the top of the bottom triangle, the psoas connecting the middle of the main triangle to the bottom of the lower triangle and the piriformis connecting the triangle to locomotion of the legs. This also highlights the benefit of arm swing when walking, allowing the arms to be a pendulum to the legs.
How can remedial massage help? By using various techniques to break up any adhesions in the muscles and addressing the facia between the back, shoulders and hips. Remedial massage can help identify the high-tension areas and release them to help bring balance back to your body. By using Ross Emmett’s Techniques on the psoas and abdominals, I have found that the need to use the commonly taught method of digging in is not needed. This means I am able to address tension with in the mid section with minimal discomfort.
By allowing the psoas, piriformis and lat to relax and rebalance, the underlying muscle, nerve and organs are able to function better.
Who can benefit. Since they are large muscles covering a lot of the body anyone and everyone will benefit, including you. From a performance point of view, anyone that is stuck sitting with his or her arms out in front of them will benefit. Anyone stuck standing and using his or her arms away from the body will benefit. And anyone needing their strength to come from the whole body will benefit.
Some jobs and sports that can put uneven load on these three. Barista, Chef, wait person, office worker, shelf stacker, warehouse worker, trades person, parent, any of the football codes, cricketer, horse rider, cyclist, runner, rower, walker.
Next time you are moving think about where your arms are in relation to the rest of your body and you will see everything is connected.