My Self-Diagnosis of Iliopsoas Symptoms

by John Lethco
(Austin, TX USA)

I sit for 4-6 hours daily. I get my exercise by walking, gardening, housework and outdoors activities (swimming, sailing, kayaking and hiking). I believe I get substantially more exercise than most Americans my age (54 years old, 6’ 1”, 190 lbs).

My BMI (body mass index) and BFI (body fat index) are at the upper edge of "normal / healthy" for my age group and my BP (blood pressure) is within normal range. My exercise is of a recreational nature. I do not exercise for the purpose of "training" or "conditioning". The "physical fitness" I derive from my type of exercise is simply a by-product of my desire to have fun outdoors.

Recently I discovered I could not do one single pull-up and I could barely do one push-up! I decided I would try every day to build up a very small amount of strength by doing pull-ups and as many push-ups as possible. I NEVER stretched before these exercises.

After about 5 days of this regimen I had attained the ability to just barely squeeze off 3 push-ups. I was trying to accomplish 4 push-ups but felt some slight strain in the center of my lower left back so I dropped to the floor and did not attempt that exercise again that day.

Next day I was in excruciating pain on my left abdominal side whenever I turned my torso to the left or attempted to get up from a prone position. There were also other positions and movements that caused sharp stabbing pains to occur at points ranging from my pelvic floor up to my diaphragm. All these pains were on the internal left side of my abdomen, from lower abdomen to upper abdomen near the diaphragm.

I know from working at the Medical Examiners' morgue and assisting with autopsies the location and basic function of the psoas muscle. The fact that the pain was internal to the rib cage and not on one of the external muscles made me decide to check on pathologies of the psoas.

That's when I found information on the Iliopsoas Syndrome and have decided that I have severely strained this muscle. It has gotten only slightly better over the last 10 days.

I may have to get professional medical advice on how to treat this problem if it does not get better within another week or so. I am 54 years old and my body does not heal very quickly. I sustained a neck muscle pull during yoga last year and it took 8 weeks to stop hurting. And when I say hurting, the stabbing pains it sent down my neck and shoulder caused me to think more than once that I was having a heart attack!

This injury started as a VERY SLIGHT muscle "twinge" in my neck during a yoga posture. I immediately backed off the posture, and had NO idea of how serious the injury was until the next day. That seems to be a pattern of how my sports and fitness injuries occur. I have no idea I'm approaching the threshold of painful injury. When I do incur an injury the onset seems only like a VERY SLIGHT discomfort and goes away as soon as I stop exerting myself at the place the discomfort occurred. Then, the next day I get the full brunt of the pain and damage I have caused my body.

I think my big mistake in exercising is NOT stretching!

Normally when I do housework or some of my other recreational physical activities I don't stretch because I don't exert myself extremely hard. I moved 9 cubic yards of dirt 300 feet earlier this spring but I took it very easy and only worked about 30 minutes to an hour each time and carried about 25 lbs of dirt per wheelbarrow load.

I accomplished this without stretching or hurting myself but I also did not greatly exert myself. I also kayak 5+ miles on a regular basis and portage a 100 lb kayak (using wheels and a rope), and I do this without stretching. But again I do not exert myself the way I would if I were "training" such as I was attempting to do when I was trying to increase strength for pull-ups & push-ups.

I will seek the advice and guidance of a fitness professional before I attempt any more strength training!

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Stephen O'Dwyer, cnmt

Neuromuscular Therapist & Pain Relief Researcher

Stephen O'Dwyer, CNMT


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