Are you sitting at a desk right now? Chances are your psoas muscles are contracted to hold you steady in an upright position with your hips in flexion. Say-what-as? The psoas, pronounced; “so-as,” are key muscles connecting the upper body with the lower body, and they directly link the spine to the legs. Hidden deep in the abdomen, these muscles are anything but invisible. They have an enormous influence on the body, especially the lower back. There are even books written and courses about the psoas! Here is the “simple” version, although they are anything but simple.
Located on either side of the spine, they originate from: the last thoracic vertebrae, all five lumbar vertebrae, and the neighboring intervertebral discs. They then merge with another muscle on the inside of the pelvis called the iliacus to form the iliopsoas and then attach to the lesser trochanter of the inner femur bone. The psoas primary action is to flex the hip joint or bring the knee to the chest, and also independently they assist in bending the torso side to side.
Many health practitioners believe the psoas contribute to low back pain. I do too! Sitting for long periods of time doesn’t help. This may lead to tightness of the psoas, which then could cause compression of the lumbar discs. Also, when you stand up they may remain tight so then the low back muscles kick in to bring you upright possibly creating a strain in the low back. Ouch! There is so much more on the technology of the psoas… Check out last months’ blog for more information on the low back and stretch out your psoas with the yoga sequence below and to help keep your low back healthy.
Remember to hold these poses at least one minute on each side. Take your time. Breathe, full deep breaths. If anything feels painful, stop. And if you have been experiencing low back pain for a while, it might be time for a check up with your Doc.
Modified Down Dog
Rest your hands on a counter (or surfboard J). Reach your sitting bones behind you for a stretch in your back and hamstrings
Two Lunge Versions of a PSOAS Stretch
With your back knee lifted or down, just make sure to have your abdominals engaged and slightly release your tailbone downward for a more effective stretch.
Stagger your feet, keep your legs straight and tilt forward at your hip crease, not your waist.
Lean back, twist side to side tapping each knee for at least a minute.
Press into your feet so your knees lift, bring your belly button away from the ground, keep lengthened in your low back as you raise up to your lower ribs.
Rest your legs to one side and reach your opposite arm away, relax, and breathe.
Namaste (The light in me, honors the light in you),