Month: November 2013

All About the Iliopsoas

The iliopsoas is one of the more important muscles in the human body, but at the same time, it is one of the least understood. You use it every day, but you’ve probably never heard of it!

Psoas major is an essential muscle located along your lumbar vertebrae and your lesser pelvis. The long muscle is a hip flexor muscle, which means that the primary function of the psoas is to flex the spine upon the pelvis to bring the upper leg towards the torso. Together with the iliacus, these two muscles make up the iliopsoas.

The Psoas Major is made up of the Psoas and the Iliacus


The iliopsoas muscle is used often in every day life. When you walk around the block, you’re flexing your iliopsoas. When you go to sit down, you’re flexing your iliopsoas, and when you stand back up, you’re flexing your iliopsoas. More intensive motions, such as walking up a flight of stairs, or going on a quick jog, require more work from this muscle . Likewise, athletes of all types, from swimmers to golfers to soccer players, will utilize the iliopsoas to a great degree.

Because of the central location of the iliopsoas, and its essential function in so many daily motions, the iliopsoas can take quite a beating throughout one’s lifetime. Strain on the iliopsoas muscle can cause back pain; poor posture; difficulty sleeping; leg pains ranging from the knee, to the thigh, to the hip; groin pain; and menstrual cramps, among other symptoms. Athletes are more prone to experiencing injuries associate with the iliopsoas and hip flexors.

The iliopsoas is located deeper in the body than others, making it less accessible for treatment when it is injured or stressed. Traditional massage therapy does not target this region, as it is protected by other muscles. However, targeted iliopsoas massage can ease tension in the area, increase flexibility, and help restore movement without pain. In a iliopsoas  massage session, the therapist will ask the client to lie on their back and bend their knees. This will shorten and relax the iliopsoas. The therapist will then perform general abdominal massage work to relax the rectus abdominus and obliques, before moving onto more specialized techniques. The therapist will palpate the muscle to determine its exact position and relax the muscle fibers.

Expect your abdominal and iliopsoas work to take anywhere from 15-20 minutes to allow slow and patient palpation of the muscles. Many therapists are not knowledgeable in these techniques or hold hesitation in working on areas such as the psoas, gluteal area or anterior neck from lack of anatomical knowledge,lack of proper training or restrictions in their workplace. In addition to relief from low back pain, iliopsoas work is often used during customized therapeutic massage sessions for runners, cyclists, and golfers to improve their flexibility and performance.

Darcy is highly skilled in massage techniques for the iliopsoas muscle. To learn more about how iliopsoas and abdominal massage, contact Darcy at

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Top 7 Benefits of Massage Therapy

Benefits of Massage Therapy

Top 7 Benefits of Massage Therapy

You know that massage feels great, but did you know that it’s great for you, as well? Listed below, in no particular order, are my top 7 reasons that incorporating massage therapy into your daily life can lead to a healthier you.

1.    Pain Relief.

  The human body responds strongly to touch. A plethora of studies ranging from the early 1990s to today confirm that massage reduces pain in a variety of patients, ranging from those who experience chronic pain to those who just had surgery. A study conducted in 2000 by Gregory P. Fontana, MD, at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, found that 95% of patients surveyed needed lower doses of pain medications on days that they received massage therapy.

2.    Stress Relief

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) released an official statement in 2006 stating that massage therapy can be effective for stress. Studies approved by the AMTA showed that massage therapy significantly decreased heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and salivary cortisol levels after a ten to fifteen minute chair massages. The AMTA statement concludes, “all subjects in the massage group showed significant changes in emotional states and stress levels.”

3.    Increased Lymph Node Activity

 Your lymph system performs the important task of removing wastes and other excesses from your body. Similar to the way blood vessels can be stimulated, massage can directly target lymph vessels in order to stimulate better circulation. This can reduce swelling and inflammation, increase energy, and help give you a boost when recovering from an illness. Lymph massage is also incredibly beneficial to athletes, and surgical patients, and to sufferers of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

4.    Boosted Immunity

 Research by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) conducted a study on massage therapy and HIV. Results found that after a month of receiving regular massage therapy, HIV+ patients saw an increase in Natural Killer Cells and their cytotoxicity, or ability to kill infected cells. Another study, conducted by researchers at Cedars-Sinai’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, found that Swedish massage boosted immune and endocrine response.

5.    Better Posture & Flexibility

Massage therapists employ passive stretching on your muscles, which helps to loosen and relax your entire body. This contributes to improved flexibility and posture, and an overall improved range of motion.

6.    Reduced Anxiety & Stress

The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine conducted a study of over 500 men, women and children who suffered from anxiety and depression. The study measured the stress hormone cortisol. Results showed that massage therapy lowered cortisol levels by up to 53%.

7.    Increased Life Satisfaction

The U-Miami research was also conducted on participants diagnosed with ailments such as anorexia, bulimia, Alzheimer’s, hernias, chronic back pain, hypertension, and other physical and behavioral problems. The results overwhelmingly showed that massage therapy made a positive impact.

So what are you waiting for? Try out a massage therapy session, and I’m positive that you’ll be feeling positive, too!


Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Benefits of Vitamin D

Especially in the colder and darker months, it’s important to ensure that you’re getting enough Vitamin D. However, chances are, you’re not.

According to the Journal of Nutrition, you’re likely to have a vitamin D deficiency if you live further from the equator, have pre-existing medical conditions such as obesity, liver disease, celiac or renal disease, or have darker skin pigmentation. This puts a large portion of the human population at risk.

Why is that so bad, you might ask? Vitamin D is a hormone that is not naturally found in the human body. It can either be consumed through foods such as fatty fishes and cheeses, or synthesized in the skin through sun exposure.

After absorption, Vitamin D is converted to its active hormone form in the kidneys and liver. In its hormone form, Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium.

Vitamin D also helps to regulate the immune system by activating genes that release neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin. These two neurotransmitters, in particular, are closely linked with mood and emotion.

From late autumn through early spring, when shorter days mean less sunlight, people may be more susceptible to a mood disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The less sunlight a body is exposed to, the less Vitamin D can be absorbed.

It’s still possible to get enough vitamin D in the darker months. As previously mentioned, fatty fishes, such as salmon, tuna, and eel can help you get the recommended dose of Vitamin D. Three ounces of salmon contains almost 2/3 of your recommended vitamin D! Canned fish is okay, too.

Certain mushrooms can also be fortified with vitamin D. This may seem backwards, as mushrooms are usually grown in the darkness, but some are specifically grown in ultraviolet light to cultivate vitamin D! Vitamin D fortified milk (including soy and almond milk), as well as fortified orange juice or fortified cereal, is also a great source.

If you’re still not getting enough, consult your doctor about taking vitamin D supplements. If you’d rather not ingest anything, you can consider investing in ultraviolet bulbs.

And of course, get as much sunlight as you can. Nothing can beat that!