The illiopsoas or psoas muscle often gets a bad rap. They often become labeled as a problem in the lower part of the body. When they are sore and tight we tend to want to maneuver them and stretch them in ways that are unpleasant and cause us further discomfort. We are taught that this approach is the best remedy to resolve the pain and tightness. How's that working? Are you getting the relief you need?
We teach an entirely different approach.
In our last post Your Psoas Runs Deep we started to explain some of the biomechanics of these muscles and how they come to lock down, pulling on the back and legs, restricting your daily movements, such as bending over, walking easily or putting on your socks.
Anatomy of the Psoas
Let’s look at the anatomy of the Illiosoas group of muscles, so that you can begin to understand what happens when these muscles are stuck in contraction, and unable to release (experiencing Sensory Motor Amnesia).
This anatomy knowledge will help you to understand why what you have been doing has not been working and why re-education is a more successful and lasting approach to restoring function than stretching.
We want help you understand why getting the psoas back to moving well, in cooperation with other key muscles of the pelvis and trunk, is so important to alleviating your pain.
What most of us refer to as the psoas, is really 3 muscles (the psoas major, psoas minor, and iliacus).
Anatomically the psoas major connects to the spine from T12 to L5. It can be as long as 16 inches and connects the ribcage and pelvis (via the illacus that lines the inside of the pelvis) to the inner, upper thigh bone.
The psoas major as pictured above is the strongest flexor of the hip and supports the movement of the leg forward when we walk.
T12 the Diaphragm & the Psoas
If you followed your lowest rib all the way around to where it connects to the spine (T12), that is where the psoas muscle begins. At this point is also where your diaphragm, (major muscle of breathing) sits and where the lower trapezius connects to the spine, (the muscle that affects movement of the neck, shoulders, arms and upper back).
Can you get a sense of how far reaching the effects of a tight psoas muscle can be?
If the psoas muscle is sitting chronically short and pulling the torso into flexion habitually, then your rotation will be limited, your arm and shoulder movement could be limited, you might have neck and shoulder tension, your breathing could be limited, and each time you bend over, your back will feel even more strained and uncomfortable.
By permission photo credit 2014 Books of Discover
Key to Releasing the Psoas
In order to support a lasting release in your psoas, you have to first address the strong and habituated Red Light Reflex pattern that has you stuck and braced forward. Then you must re-educate your key pelvic stabilizers (gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, gluteus maximus so that stability returns to your pelvis and spine.
Finally you must work on freeing up your diaphragm movement with conscious breathing practices, reintroduce twisting and then adding load.
Wanna learn how to achieve this? DO NOT miss our next post The Best Way to Release Your Psoas
Consider becoming a member of our Video on Demand Channel where you will get to learn more and participate in classes to help release your chronically tight muscles.
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