First of the 4 gospels for low back pain is Iliopsoas, and it's first on the list for a reason! The Iliopsoas can actually be broken down into two muscles, the Iliacus and the Psoas Major. They are often associated with each other because they have similar actions on the body along with attaching at the same spot on the femur; the lesser trochanter. Both muscles are hip flexors, which means if you attempt to touch your toes by bending forward, you are using these muscles to do it!
Where the Iliacus and Psoas Major differ, is their origination points and the bones that they act on. The Psoas is the bigger, stronger muscle that connects the axial, or torso, part of your skeleton to your appendicular, or lower (in this case) limbs, while also connecting the front to the back, and the inside to the outside. The Psoas starts on the inside/front part of your vertebrae or spine and comes through your torso over the front of your pelvic bone to attach to the inner and upper part of your femur. This muscle is gigantor! It's amazing how much this muscle drives what is happening in the mid to lower part of your body. But why does it concern us when it comes to low back pain? I mean it isn't even hanging around on the back part of our bodies, so how can it affect it? This is one of the biggest questions I get when working on the Psoas, people are always a little baffled as to why I'm working on muscles through their abdomen in order to help alleviate low back pain. I know this can be hard to envision just hearing about it so look at the photo, study it, then imagine the muscle as it goes through your body.
Now that you have this envisioned, think about what you do all day and how often you use or shorten this muscle. If you have a desk job, you are constantly putting this muscle in a shortened positioned for upwards of 8 hours a day. As you slouch there in your desk chair, you continue to contribute to that muscle staying it's shortened position, which, in turn, contributes to your low back pain. It pulls your lumbar vertebrae forward and takes away that natural curve that is supposed to be in your low back. You have this big muscle pulling you forward and taking your body out of natural alignment. This changes the environment your back muscles are accustomed to which makes them freak out and yell at you that is expressed by your body as pain. Because this is such a large muscle, by working on it we are able to help alleviate that pain quickly and effectively with an ever increasing window of pain free days.
The other portion of the equation, Iliacus, is a muscle that is a synergist to the Psoas Major. This means that both muscles help each other to do the same action. Iliacus starts on the inside lip of your pelvis and runs down through the front of your body to attach onto the same place on the femur that Psoas Major attaches. This muscle can add to the shortening of your hip flexors and exacerbate low back pain and also cause front hip pain and pain just below your glutes. These fickle little buggers are an evil team that come together to give you most of your low back pain!
Now what to do with this info? After reading through all the hubbub and getting the background of the muscles and how they work, you have a better understanding of why these muscles need to be worked on! By releasing trigger points and keeping these muscles stretched and elongated, you can greatly improve the occurrence of low back pain! Madness how just working on muscles helps your body return to it's natural state without the aid of surgery/pills/general invasiveness! I hope this info helps you guys be more informed about your body, how it works, and what to work on when you're hurting! Feel free to respond, email, or call with any questions (all the info is on the contact page)! Happy fixings!