The focus of February has been the super important psoas!
Let's dig into this muscle a little deeper.
Anatomy and Function:
The psoas muscles attaches to the T12-L4 vertebral bodies
(spine bones), discs (cushions between the spine) and TVPs (transverse processes-aka little side bones off the spine bone where muscles attach) of L1-L5 and connects to the lesser trochanter of the femur (a little bony spot of your upper leg bone).
Its job is to flex the thigh and trunk, bend us into lateral flexion and allow lateral rotation of the thigh.
The psoas is also responsible for maintain hip mobility, balance and is important for posture as it helps stabilize the neutral curves of the spine.
It can impact our breathing too! When contracted, a tight psoas can restrict diaphragmatic movement which will cause shallow breaths and the overuse of many upper respiratory muscles.
Where we store feelings:
The psoas essentially connects our back to our legs.
Its job is to jump into action when we need to fight, flee or curl up into a ball and freeze. So it only makes sense that it is also associated to our nervous systems' flight, fight or freeze response! With constant stress states and neuro dysregulation the psoas muscle can in turn also be in a constant state of stress and over stimulation.
This means it is pretty much always TIGHT!
The nerves that run through the thoracolumbar spine innervate our internal organs, pelvic organs and some of the major nerves going to our legs.
So when this area is compressed or restricted it can constrict vital blood flow that affects absorption and elimination, it can cause sexual dysfunction, infertility and increase the severity of menstrual cramps.
And again, it is connected to our diaphragm muscles at the bottom of our ribcage. This affects both our breath and sympathetic response. We know when we are not breathing properly our stress response and the hormones associated with it are negatively impacted.
The psoas also creates a muscular shelf that your kidneys and adrenal rest on, when you belly breath your diaphragmed moves up and down increasing blood circulation to these areas, but when it becomes imbalance your kidneys and adrenal glands can be affected. Thus, can cause physical and emotion fatigue.
More Psoas Problems
When the psoas is not function optimally it can lead to low back, hip, groin and thigh pain.
Then toss in chronic sitting postures
and we have a problematic muscle that is both tight and weak. This can limit us in being able to sit up straight over time and can make transitional movements painful (like going from sitting to standing).
How do tight psoas' affect so much?
Back pain-when the psoas is tight it pulls the low back into hyperlordosis which strains the lumbar discs, vertebrae and jams joints together.
Hip pain-tightness in the psoas tendon can cause snapping hip syndrome and impingement.
Pelvic pain-nerves that travel through the muscle are compressed and can lead to radicular pain in the quad, lateral leg and pelvis.
Digestive issues-tightness and restriction can interfere with blood flow and nerve impulses to the pelvic organs, this impacts absorbed and elimination.
Because the psoas is known for being tight, focus is often miscommunicated on the importance of stretching.
However we need both stretching and strengthening!
If any of this sounds familiar to you, here are some things to try at home.
Supine single leg raise with resistance loop.
Single leg march with resistance loop.
Kneeling hip extension
Walking twist toe touch
And of course, if any of this moves create or exacerbate pain symptoms, do not perform.