Accessing the Psoas Major

Lower Back Pain? Think Psoas Major

Image showing psoas muscle anatomy

Pronounced with a silent ‘p’, the psoas major (let’s just call it the psoas), is the only muscle in the body that connects the upper body to the lower body. This often comes as quite a surprise statement to people – but it’s true as it attaches the lumbar vertebrae to the inside of the femur, having passed through the entire inguinal/ hip region. It’s important and hefty role is flexion and extension of the hips – think walking, climbing stairs, sitting down and standing up.


There’s much more to it than that, of course – as it becomes one with the iliacus muscle and is more generally known as the iliopsoas, and it should be treated in unison with the piriformis (and others). But the point here is about accessing this primary hip flexor.

Those who sit for long times at computers, who drive, or in lotus-position meditation will find their psoas muscles shortening. If no hip-stretches or exercises (with external hip rotation) are done to counter this, a chronic back-stooping pose may be the result, accompanied by lower back and neck pain as muscles in those areas try to compensate.

It’s a deep muscle in a vulnerable, tender spot – it can hold much emotion. Chances are good that even regular massage clients may never have had this worked on – it’s an area of caution for some. There’s no doubt it can be a painful and quite alarming experience having your psoas worked on for the first time. However, the physical and emotional benefits are substantial, so perseverance is key.


But before the first touch in that region, a conversation is necessary. The massage therapist should explain the muscle, what is does, why it might need attention, and then the process of working into it, the pain-scale, how to breathe into and ‘accept’ the discomfort, and how to communicate during the process. Trust, good skills with soft, warm fingers and ‘permission’ from the body and the client’s mind are all needed for the massage therapist to be able to gain access to the psoas.

Without creating discomfort, the massage therapist will gently press down and create movement (massage) the skin and fascia just below and to the side of the navel and toward the hip bone.  Patient gentle, continuous soft pressure and massage will eventually allow access to the psoas with the finger tips.

Massage of the psoas itself depends on what the therapist finds in there, the overall goal of the session, and also goals with on-going treatment – but that’s all beyond the intention of this post.

Massage of the the psoas Major, (along with the piriformis and others) is an important ‘maintenance’ consideration for regular clients.  It it is one of the body’s ‘primary’ skeletal muscles with important jobs – it’s worth persevering with the sensitivity of reaching it as the benefits – and the feeling of such work – are immense.

Be Well,

Hamish and Rochelle





Listen, Just Listen

This blog is about the adventures, trials, tribulations, emotions, pleasures, fears, frustrations and joys of starting a new out-call massage business in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The blog is written by T. Hamish Tear, one of the two owner / partners of Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole – which is then carried forward into the Social Media sphere by Rochelle Ganoe – the other owner / partner.



When a client comes to you for a massage, the entire session from intake to goodbye is about the client. The client wants, and is paying for, your attention. Some need more, some less. Some are more demanding, others very humble. But whatever it is, a good listening ear will make this massage extra meaningful to your client and hopefully be at least part of a successful conversion from a first-time client, to a regular customer.


With the intake form filled out, it is of course normal and customary to review what the client has written – especially if this is a first-time client with you. Whilst the massage therapist must repeat the information on the intake form back to the client, ask questions and make comments where appropriate, it is essential to do much more listening than talking. If the client has certain specific reasons for coming to you for a massage, listen, empathize, show your understanding of what is being said – but without saying too much. Let the client do the talking.

And it’s not necessary or even advisable to get caught up in small-talk or add to the client’s complaint by adding examples of your own similar issues – just ‘zip-it’. For example, today I had a client, a young lady, who warned me that she had badly bruised her Coccyx about three months previously – and that it still hurt. Well, that was very interesting to me as I had had that exact same injury earlier this summer. I asked her how it happened (MOI, Mechanism of Injury, could be important knowledge to the massage) and she told me that she had fallen on (not off) her bicycle – and landed on the rear wheel hub with her Coccyx. Well – my goodness – there’s an incredibly strange coincidence – that’s exactly how I suffered my own injury. So in fact there was quite a conversation I could have had with her. I could have gotten into the whole story of how this same thing had happened to me and all such other time-wasting small-talk. But the that would have been about me! – And how could this possibly have helped or contributed to the massage or the way I would give the massage? Not one little bit.

So of course I made empathizing noises, said ‘Ouch’ to show that I, as a massage professional, understood the nature of the pain of an injured Coccyx, and left it at that. Therefore she got to do 95% of the talking at the time of discussing the intake form, and I’m sure she felt satisfied that she had been listened to. And after all, what is it we’re after if it isn’t a satisfied customer?

Be Well,

Hamish and Rochelle