Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Triathlete's Nemisis

Massage Therapy for Triathletes
-The Triathlete’s Nemisis
Hello PSOAS!   Allow me to count the ways this muscle drives me crazy.   (When it’s not working properly that is)

Let’s take a look at the task of this ever so powerful hip flexor.
The job of our Psoas muscle is to bring our torso towards our thigh, bring our thigh towards our torso.  It can work bilateral or unilateral it also rotates the hip externally, and aids in side bending and stabilization of the lumbar spine.  Basically it manages every sport we do as triathletes!
Let’s dive in to this muscle shall we?
Very seldom is there a single triathlete I treat that I don’t get to go after their Psoas (grin). 
The swim:  This muscle gets worked in a lengthened position when we swim; is asked to contract when we flip turn, it’s helping with slight rotation as we breath, and it’s also helping us maintain balance in the water.  (do you every get a sore low back after a long swim session?) 
The bike:  Once we are out of the water and on to the bike, we ask this Mr. Psoas to work REALLY hard in a shortened position.  (I mean look at those watt averages) The more aggressive areo position we are in on the bike, the more we need to focus on the health of our hip flexors during our recovery and foundation training.  We spend how much time on the bike- In a race it could be 15, 25, 56, 112 miles? I’m guessing most of the triathletes reading this are more often in the 56 and 112 mile range.  That’s a ton of time working for those suckers in a shortened position.  At least you know if you’ve got hills, you’ll spend some time out of the saddle climbing, standing and lengthening that hip position slightly.  But what about those really flat fast races where you’re hunkered down in a tight aero position for the entire race?   Are your hip flexors ready for that?  Are they elongated and healthy enough to set you up for a really fantastic run?  Or are they going to hold you back? 
The run:  We begin our run and pray Psoas isn’t cranking our pelvis down and shortening our pelvic angle, pulling on our hamstrings while we are running.  (I’m sure no one reading this has ever gotten off the bike and it took them a minute or 5 to feel like they can straighten all the way into a standing position…think about it!)  Just think how much longer and more powerful our stride is when it’s just that, a full stride.  If our Psoas is allowed to lengthen, giving more extension through our hip flexors, then a fantastic phenomenon is achieved.  Happy glute muscles!  We all know…it’s all about the BUTT in the run!  If your pelvis is rotated forward, (pretend you’re running in 5 inch heels) you can’t properly engage your glutes…which really means… Oh heck, I’m not even going to get into all the issues that come from not utilizing our glutes properly, let’s just surmise, it’s not pretty.

Ok, on second thought…I am going to give you a little list.  The Psoas-  this “Triathlete Nemisis”, is time and time again know for causing low back pain, overstretched hamstrings (which most people don’t realize are actually overstretched they just keep trying to stretch them more -PLEASE STOP THAT- *breath*).  In reality the Psoas is actually doing really dirty work (and I’m not saying in a good way) pulling our pelvis into an anterior tilt pulling our low back forward causing a strong lumbar curve.   More-?.....side stitch when running, externally rotation of the hip, tight IT band, secondary tugging at the knee causing a torque at the knee.  Knee cap not tracking properly due to that external rotation of the hip; which then leads to lower issues, possible Tibial fracture, plantar fasciitis….this list goes on.  Often times, there are even neck imbalances due to a tight Psoas.  Oh man, maybe we’ll save the neck for another article.   The point of all of the above is this:
What does this look like for you, the speedy, powerful, unstoppable (until Psoas seizes) “Big Sexy” Triathlete?  
Find a therapist that’s REALLY good about evaluating your imbalances. A massage therapist that can gently loosen, stretch and elongate your Psoas muscles is a must; this work needs to be done properly.  Now, allow me to explain; this is not something that can happen in just one massage session.  Psoas work is something that needs to take place gradually, done too quickly and you’ll have a lot of rebalancing pain that’s not necessary.  As your Psoas muscle lengthens, your posterior chain needs to have time to adapt to these changes.  It’s a bit of a pulley system.    Give a little, take a little.  Now, I’m not saying that gentle work on the Psoas muscle won’t be painful.  There are times when working with clients; I can use just a couple of lbs of pressure and they feel as if I’m driving a hot poker through the abdomen to the back.  It needs to be gradual, consistent work.   
A good therapist will be able to work all along the belly of the Psoas muscle (see above diagram) from just under the rib cage, following along the spine (through the abdominal wall) to just above the inguinal ligament.  The muscle goes under the inguinal ligament, so they’ll need to pick it back up at the insertion on the femur (thigh bone).  Sometimes the point of attachment on the femur can be pretty painful.  Sometimes it can feel like a groin pull or deep-aching, throbbing or sharp pain.   The upper portion of the Psoas (just under the rib cage but very deep) when worked on can give referral pain.  Sometimes the discomfort goes straight through to the back; sometimes it transfers through the entire stomach like a burning sensation.  It can feel like a line that travels straight up and down, like a pain line from the center of the trigger point, or it can be fascial adhesions that create a tearing sensation.  When your therapist is working, you may have one side that is tighter than the other.  The left and right sides are not always equal, in fact, most often they are not.   Again, I reiterate, have this work done gradually, over several weeks of time.
Your list-  1. Have a therapist that knows how to work with the Psoas muscles.  If your therapist doesn’t, ask them if they’ll do a workshop on hips and pelvis with Psoas as a component.  Then the two of you can grow together and you don’t have to find a new therapist.  2. Have Psoas worked on regularly (I have mine loosened with EVERY session that a therapist treats me).  3.  When you’re Psoas is happy and you feel the difference, let me know!  I love hearing how much a healthy set of hip flexors changes an athlete’s life! 
Best wishes for a healthy, fast, powerful racing season!
Cindy McGuire, Licensed Massage Therapist
Owner of -Hands On Sports Massage

Article created by Cindy McGuire for “Big Sexy Racing”, February 2014

Monday, May 23, 2011

Summer Recipe from one of my clients! THANK YOU! LOVE THIS!

The tender green of asparagus, red quinoa, and pink salmon make this heart-healthy dish bold both in flavor and color.
Serves 4
1/3 cup red quinoa
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup light sour cream
3 Tbsp light mayonnaise
1 tsp grated lime zest
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
Pinch salt
Four 4-oz frozen wild salmon fillets
1 lb asparagus
1 Tbsp butter
Bring the water and quinoa to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off but keep the covered saucepan on the burner for an additional 6 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Set aside.
Combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, lime zest, 1 Tbsp of the lime juice, ginger, cilantro and salt in a small bowl, mixing well. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the frozen fillets in an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish and cover with foil. Place in the oven and bake on the center rack for about 20 minutes or until the salmon is pink and flakes with a fork.
While the salmon is cooking, prepare the asparagus. Trim off the tough portion of each spear by grasping it and bending it near the bottom third. Asparagus will snap where it begins to get tough. Place the asparagus in a large pot of boiling water and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes until tender but crisp. Toss the asparagus in butter and the remaining 1 Tbsp of lime juice. Season with additional salt to taste.
Arrange the asparagus on individual serving plates. Place a portion of the quinoa over the asparagus and top with a piece of salmon. Drizzle the lime dressing over the salmon and serve immediately.

TD&N Nutrient Analysis: 
Calories: 342; Total Fat: 18 g; Saturated Fat; 6 g; Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g; Monounsaturated Fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 85 mg; Sodium: 155 mg; Carbohydrates: 16 g; Fiber: 3 g; Protein: 28 g

Recipe and photo used with permission from Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood by Patrician Green and Carolyn Hemming,

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Top 3 book pics!

I couldn't help but share with you!

I'm always looking for great inspiration and new reading material.  These three books are in a few of my top most recent reads.  I thought I'd share them with you!
If you've read them or end up reading any of them after checking out the links, I'd love to hear your feedback on each book.  Every one has been life changing for me.  Helping to navigate my life course....each time I read something that lifts my spirits, it's like putting wind in the sails of a sailboat allowing it to point a little higher into the wind!
I hope you check these out and enjoy them as much as I have.  A couple of them I enjoyed so much I read them twice!

Have a fantastic day!  And please post feedback on these, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
I hope for much joy in your life today!

Friday, February 11, 2011

You can have an Impact! Egypt today!

Have you been following the facts of what has been taking place in Cairo?  Mubarak steps down!
The reactions some have stated are similar to when the Berlin Wall Fell!

Ever wonder how much impact you as a person can make to an entire country?
Yes...No...Maybe? Whether you have thought about it or not, you as an individual not only have an impact on the United States Economy but others as well. We have all been on the edge of our seats wondering what will be the next step during the Egypt protests. After all of the recent events that have happened in the past weeks, How do you think Egypt will rise up in regards to the people, businesses, and tourism?

As you can imagine the economy is suffering as well. Take a look at this article that we have recently read upon (link is at the bottom). It is amazing how much traffic brought to the Pyramids can impact Egypt's well being. If you take a look at the staggering number on the bottom of the article it states that one bank of Egypt is estimating that their country is loosing $310 Million a day. That number all by itself is enough to hurt any economy.

So... with that being said our question for you today is...

If you knew that your Country was struggling with a Political outrage, would you sacrifice your political stand to help your Country's Economy well-being? Why or Why not?

Let us know, we are looking to have some dialog to see what everyone was thinking?

Have a good Weekend!

News Article:

Today's post provided by:  Drake Marketing Intern Tokunbo Pillot

Monday, February 7, 2011

Superbowl XLV

What a game!!!

Steelers vs Packers 25 - 31

Where's the fun for you?

  1. All about the game?
  2. A commercial critic?
  3. Halftime hotspot?
What was your favorite part of the Superbowl XLV?  

Highlights and news Superbowl XLV

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Low back ache ~ Psoas (psóās)

The most frequent low back pain seen in this office comes from the grouping of muscles seen below.
When tight, overworked or just plain exhausted, the psoas muscle can cause many complications.

  • Sore or painful low back
  • Back pain that hinders your daily activity
  • Deep low abdominal pain
  • Pain when trying to stand after sitting for a while
  • Not being able to stand up straight
  • Tightness straight across the belt line of your low back
  • Piriformis Syndrome
  • Knee Pain
  • Heartburn
  • Leg Length discrepancies (shortened leg)
  • Rotation of the pelvis (making it hard to stay in alignment)
  • Excessively tight hamstrings
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Soreness on the balls of the feet
  • Plantar fasciitis
Abdominal Surgeries

After an abdominal surgery, whether it be from C-Section, Hernia surgery, or women that are dealing with endomitriosis, scar tissue develops where there was an incision.  The way that scar tissue works, it adheres much like glue to create more strength around the area of surgery.  With nearly every person that I have seen here in the office that has had some form of abdominal surgery, the scar tissue development glues to the deep hip flexors (muscles diagrammed above).  

In order to keep those muscles loose and mobile, there are a few things you can do.

  • Stretch 
  • Trigger Point work
  • Orthopedic Massage
Most often times, when someone is having an issue with the deep hip flexors, their hamstrings are so tight, they can't seem to get them stretched out or loosened up, no matter how much work they do with them.
It may sound backwards, but in regards to low back pain and psoas issues.  If you stretch your hip flexors first, then stretch your hamstrings, you'll get greater results and your hamstrings won't pull as much.


  • Lunge
    • Back knee down on the ground, front knee at 90 degrees

    • Back knee straight, both feet straight forward, front knee at 90 degrees

      • Back knee straight, back foot rotated at 45 degrees to the outside, front foot straight, front knee at 90 degrees

      • On any of the lunge stretches, make sure you are keeping your torso vertical

      • If you want to deepen the stretch, raise your arm up in the air on the same side that the leg is extended back, this you should feel pull from your leg, all the way up under your rib cage.

    This is a very quick and simple solution to overcoming low back pain that is associated with the deep hip flexors, predominantly the psoas muscles.  

    Make sure you do one or all of these stretches BEFORE stretching out your hamstrings.  
    If you're on a run (especially if it's a hilly course) and you feel your hamstrings start to tighten up, stop for 10-20 seconds do a lunge/psoas stretch, then continue your run. You'll be amazed at the difference stretching out these deep muscles can make when incorporating them into your daily routine. 

    As always, if you need a little extra help, deep hip flexors are some of my favorite muscles to work on due in large part by the fact that the can ease pain so quickly with some of the simplest techniques.

    Please let me know if you have any questions or if you would like me to cover a specific topic in the coming weeks.

    Have a healthy month of February and great pain free training my friends!

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    Why are my muscles SOOOO sore??

    Yep it's a New Year....Break out the Sore Muscles!!!
    At the beginning of each year I see clients in January that have changed their routine, started a brand new one, or perhaps are doing something different all together.  
    Each time you change the type of stress or training you apply to your muscles, they have to adapt to these new changes.  Very frequently when pushing your body in a new direction you will have extreme soreness.  Things like shampooing your hair will take on a new level of effort.  (I'm sure you've all experienced it)  Walking up or heaven forbid going down stairs you find yourself hanging on to the handrail for fear that the soreness in your muscles won't allow you to continue to the next step. 

    This phenomenon is know as DOMS 
         - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
    24-48 hrs after a workout is when the severity of DOMS sets in.  

    Some of us laugh about it, because we know it's coming.  Some of us wonder if perhaps we did something to actually injure ourselves.  The fact of the matter is your muscle tissue is going through a breakdown and building process.  The mild muscle strain that takes place when starting into a new routing creates microscopic tears in the muscle fibers.  There is an inflammatory process that develops to help those muscles heal.  The entire chain reaction process that takes place on a cellular level (I won't bore you with the details) is helping your muscles to heal and develop into faster, stronger fibers that have more endurance.  
    The DOMS that you experience may be the most severe a couple of days after the workout.  It should lessen as the days go by. 
    If you are experiencing DOMS, the best thing to do is keep moving.  Do moderate exercise, hop on a bike trainer, walk on the treadmill if you can't get outside.  A swim is a great way to help reduce the effects of DOMS.  
    If you know you're going to start a new routine,  have a massage scheduled for that same day right after you get done with your workout.  If you do it the same day, the effects will be far less.  Also, make sure to stretch really well when you complete your workouts.  Skipping the stretching time at the end of a workout is like not eating breakfast.  It is a necessity!  DO IT!!

    IMPORTANT - if you've got sore muscles, don't give up on your workout plan, drink plenty of water, and eat healthy well balanced meals, (Stay AWAY from simple carbs -sugars- They increase the inflammation in your tissues).  Eat lots of veggies and protein...stay AWAY from sugars, breads, starches.  If you're craving sugar, you might not have enough protein.  All of these things will help you be on your way to a healthier, stronger, faster you.  

    Last note on DOMS, If you're really sore, you might just have to modify your workouts for a couple of days, then you'll be back into your routine stronger than ever. Whatever you do....DON'T GIVE UP!!

    Are you having trouble getting into a routine?  Need some people to help hold you accountable to your workouts or just plain bored of working out alone?  
    Why not join a club?  DSM TRI is only $40 for an entire year.  The product discounts make up for the cost of membership very quickly, not to mention free group training sessions hosted by Zoom Performance Training.  Join DSM TRI Club today to get linked in to activities going on around the DSM Metro!

    Have questions about muscle injuries or soreness, ask!  I'd love to help!