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Back pain and the psoas muscle

Extensive cycling can cause strain on certain muscles and body parts.

Now here’s a muscle that gets very little respect - the psoas.  In beef cattle, it’s the the king of muscles…labeled the Fillet Mignon.  It’s the most tender of cuts for the table and highly prized by meat lovers the world over.

In cyclists, this muscle takes a real beating, and because it is in such an obscure part of the body it is largely unknown.  The psoas is located in the lower abdomen, tucked against the lumbar spine.  It originates from the five lumbar vertebrae (the last five vertebrae in the spine), and goes down through the pelvis to attach to the femur (bone in the thigh).

The more bent over you are on your bike, the shorter the psoas is.  So…if it isn’t too critical that you ride in the most aerodynamic position possible, don’t set up your bike with the level of the handlebars below the level of the seat.

The bottom line message is: the more upright you are, the longer your psoas is.

Another trick you can do is to periodically stand up out of the saddle when you’re pedaling.  When you stand up to pedal, the psoas gets the luxury of being able to lengthen and perform while it isn’t so cramped up.

When you aren’t on the bike, there are some excellent stretches which address this problem. Watch the youtube video:

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