Stretching. So many muscles, so little time! We all know to stretch our quads, calves, and our hammies before embarking on any exercise routine. We elongate our calves, loosen our necks and shoulders. That’s all well and good, but have you ever thought to stretch your psoas? Could you point to it right now?
Most people have no idea where or what the psoas (pronounced “so-az”) is, nor would I if I were not a trained dancer. That being said, it is one of our most crucial core muscles, deep within the abdomen, and it is oftentimes one of our most neglected.
In general terms, the psoas stretches from your thigh to your spine, working with the iliacus to lift your thighs and tilt your pelvis (this hip flexor team is termed the iliopsoas). It is a very, very deep, rope-like muscle, lying beneath all of your organs, just in front of the spine. Due to our massively sedentary lifestyles, most people have a very tight or weak psoas. Long bouts of sitting (in the car, at work, relaxing) shorten the muscle, which causes the pelvis to tilt forward and the lower spine to poke out. With such a deep muscular imbalance, your entire anatomy can get thrown out of alignment, eventually leading to back, hip, and knee pain. Any of these sound familiar?
If you are like the majority of Americans, you have experienced such ailments at one point or another. To determine if your psoas is the culprit, read on for some basic strength and flexibility tests. In some cases, a weak/tight psoas is the underlying issue in chronic lower body pain. As it is the center of nearly all major movements, a compromised psoas can cause other body parts to malfunction. It plays an active role in running, biking, walking up stairs, and even keeping good posture in a chair. If it is weak or too tight, these repetitive activities could be causing inflammation to build up, eventually leading to lower body pain. If you have any sort of lower body pain, do some investigation on your own and always seek further advice from a professional. Your psoas may need some good lovin’.
Read on for instructions on how to locate your psoas…