The psoas major muscle: A three-dimensional geometric study
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The purpose of this study was to use anatomical data obtained from cadavers, and geometrical scaling data obtained from MRI scans of living subjects, to assess the line of action and mechanical function of the psoas major muscle in three dimensions about each lumbar spine level. In addition, the line of action of the psoas major was documented as a function of lordosis. A total of seven cadavers were dissected from which fibre/tendon architecture was measured, while MRI scans were performed on 15 males to obtain centroid paths and area scales of the muscle over its length. In this way, the curving path of muscle line of action was accommodated together with force and moment predictions that recognized the presence of a tendon at lower lumbar levels (up to L3 in some subjects) significantly increasing the stress. Results confirm that the mechanics of the psoas cannot be adequately represented with a series of straight line vectors from vertebral origins to insertion. Moreover, the mechanical action of the psoas major does not change as a function of lumbar spine lordosis as the muscle path of action changes in accordance with changes in spine posture. Functionally, contrary to claims, the psoas cannot act as a 'derotator' of the spine, does not impose large shear forces on the spine in any posture except at L5-S1, and cannot have major affects to 'control lordosis'. It has the potential to stabilize the lumbar spine with compressive loading and with bilateral activation, to laterally flex it, and can create large anterior shear forces but only at L5-S1.
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