MEET THE PSOAS
Sometimes referred to as the “mighty” psoas, the core of the body, the thickest muscle in the body, this wonderful and unique muscle gets a lot of attention. Many people come into a yoga class knowing their psoas is tight and not being exactly sure of where it is or what it does. The psoas is a very deep muscle, one of the closest muscles to the spine that sits on either side of our center of gravity. There are two, one on either side, the muscles reach from the lumbar (low back) spine to the body protrusion on the inner femur (thigh bone).
This muscle is unique in that it is the only muscle that connects the upper body to the lower body. The psoas is a strong hip flexor and allows us to do many amazing things with our bodies such as walk, run, sit, lift our leg or reach to the ground.
The psoas muscle becomes tight when we sit throughout the day, drive, run, do squats etc. When this muscle is over contracted through repetitive movement, bad postural habits, (overuse or injury), low back pain, imbalanced hips, hip pain, malaligned knees, knee pain, pelvic tilt and referred pain down the front of the thigh and all the way up to the spine, to name a few, can occur.
When only one is over contracted the spine can be pulled out of alignment. This can cause pain and physical dysfunction creating problems within the discs of the spine.
When a muscle becomes over contracted in the body its opposing muscle groups must lengthen and often become pulled long and cause pain, such as low back pain as a result of the psoas muscles being tight. When the muscle is tight it becomes weak. When a muscle is causing pain the best way to self-care for aforementioned muscle (or muscles) is become aware of it, focus on it, notice what’s going on within, stretch it and strengthen.
Emotionally the psoas is said to hold on to deep-seated fears and trauma. An educated yoga teacher can assist in addressing the psoas, helping to stretch it and facilitate healing so the postural misalignments and pain caused from this muscle being tight can dissipate.