The Iliopsoas, or psoas runs deep. Often referred to as the hip flexor muscle it is the only muscle that directly connects the torso to the legs. Its role is to flex the hip joint, causing the legs to swing forward when we walk so that we move forward in life. The problem is that the psoas can get tight, and downright unruly sometimes, causing persistent pain and discomfort. The psoas can overbear, overwork and over grip, That happens because the other muscles responsible for pelvic stabilization are not working well.
Before you can truly address the pattern of chronic pain and tension in the psoas, you need to understand two important factors. First, its relationship to the torso and the pelvis. Second,the power and influence this muscle holds in causing functional imbalance in our movement patterns.
Red Light Reflex
The Psoas is part of a broader reflex pattern, called Red Light Reflex which involves the major flexors (front body) muscles.
Red Light Reflex is our deepest innate protection mechanism to freeze, to ensure survival and protect our vital organs and life.
Red Light Reflex characteristically presents in response to high levels of stress and load and is exacerbated by repetitive and poor movement habits such as texting and too much time sitting at the computer.
The posture presents with forward rounded shoulders, a chest that is drawn down, rounded upper back, and a head shifted forward of midline. The posture shifts the pelvis out of neutral creating a disconnect of the legs from the core stability system in the body. This can cause the legs to feel achy, tired or weak. Those with Red Light Reflex feel challenged to stand up straight, feel tension in their chest, experience poor digestion, pain in the lower neck, restricted breath and much more!
Is your Psoas causing your symptoms?
Do you often feel like you are being pulled forward?
Do you have trouble lifting your leg up to put your sock on?
How about when you bend over. Do you find it hard to get back up to standing?
Do you have back pain?
Do you have unexplained pain now and again on the outsides of your hips?
These are all symptoms that your psoas may be the culprit.
Psoas and Emotions
Your psoas runs deep and is connected to your emotions. Tightness in the psoas can reflect deep seated emotional stress or other trauma. Your "stuck" psoas may be limiting your ability to move forward in life. The psoas moves into lock down or habituated tightness, when fear is rampant and stress is unbearable.
As Thomas Hanna, the founder of Somatics, explains in one of his lectures, the deep physiological reflex of Red Light “represents agony, grief, fear, sorrow, defeat and lack of power.”
Despite the fact that the psoas runs deep, we want to assure you that these patterns can be shifted, released and re-educated, through the techniques we teach in our Method.
Please stay tuned for our next blog The Psoas Gets a Bad Wrap to further prepare you for the re-education work that you can get started with to release your psoas and improve ease and function in your body.
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