YOUR HIDDEN PSOAS MUSCLE
Its Link to Back Pain, Spasms, Tension and Other Related Health Problems
by Jason Eagle, QRA, LMT
In recent years, the psoas (pronounced “SO-as”) muscle has gotten much attention for its mystery in the body. In fact, on my YouTube Channel, the videos I created on the Psoas (Parts 1 and 2...view Video Part 1 below), are always at the top in number of views.
What I've found is that most people are curious and want to know about the new muscle they just learned about; often from their yoga, CrossFit or workout friends. They want to know where the psoas is in the body, what it is supposed to do...and most importantly, how to fix it when things go wrong. I will answer those questions here.
What can go wrong?
It is the primary, hidden structural disfunction in our bodies. It is linked to and can be responsible for issues such as:
• Low back Pain
• Vertebral disk herniation
• Hip displacement and Pain
• Kidney Stagnation
• Bowel and urinary disfunction
• Reproductive organ disfunction
• Poor posture
• and more...all the way to improper brain function and hormonal mood dysregulation.
How can a muscle that we can’t even touch be involved in all this?
First of all, it is the only "bridge" of muscles that links the upper body cage with the lower body. In fact, they are the only muscles that connect your spine to your legs.
Where is it located in the body?
It is anchored in the low back vertebrae’s and the inside of the hip ball joints that plug into the sockets of the pelvis.
What does it do?
When the hips are stationary the psoas helps to flex the lumbar spine and when the lumbar spine is stationary it helps to flex the hips.
It is the only hip flex-or that can work above 90 degrees of hip flex-ion. It can help with side bending and it externally rotates the femur.
Your psoas muscles allow you to bend your hips and legs towards your chest–such as when you are going up stairs. They also help to move your leg forward when you walk or run.
They are the muscles that flex your trunk forward when bending over to pick up something from the floor and they stabilize your trunk and spine during movement and sitting.
The psoas muscles support your internal organs and work like hydraulic pumps allowing blood and lymph to be pushed in and out of your cells.
One of the most important jobs of the psoas is to stabilize the lumbar spine and prevent shearing forces. If the vertebrae are not stable during movement the disks can be compressed and cause nerve root pain that radiates down the leg or just causes local back pain.
There is much controversy over what the actual problem is when one has issues with the psoas. Some say it is just too tight. Some say it is too weak and overstretched.
When your psoas is too short or tight, it can pull your pelvis into an anterior tilt, compressing the spine and pulling your back into hyperlordosis or “duck butt.”
If your psoas is overstretched or weak, it can flatten the natural curve of your lumbar spine creating a “flat butt.” This misalignment is characterized by tight hamstrings pulling down on the sitting bones, which causes the sacrum to lose its natural curve and results in a flattened lumbar spine. This can lead to low-back injury, especially at the intervertebral discs. You may also feel pain at the front of your hip.
Finally, it is possible for your psoas muscles to be both tight and overstretched. In this case, your pelvis is pulled forward in front of your center of gravity, causing your back to curve (swayback) and your head to poke forward.
Over time, all of these conditions can lead to the deeper internal organ disfunctions of the digestive system, the kidneys or the reproductive organs. This is because they are being compressed–like an accordian–and the nerves leading to them from the spine are being stretched, compressed and shorted out...like weak or blown fuses. Of course, they won’t work as they were meant to.
What to do?
To be honest, stretching them on your own is very difficult because you can’t get to the psoas if your leg muscles, such as your "quads," are tight–which they most likely are.
Seek out a practitioner who understands and is experienced in successfully helping people with psoas issues. Strengthening exercises should be done with someone who understands and knows what proper form looks like and can help you stretch your muscles past what you can't do on your own.
Wouldn’t it be great to get back to the body you were designed to be in?
Jason Eagle, QRA, LMT is a Quantum Reflex Analysis Practitioner and a Licensed Massage Therapist at Strategic Healing, LLC in Auburn Hills, MI. He has been working with psoas muscle and other issues for over 23 years. For more information call Eagle at 734-985-5891, or to view his videos, visit: StrategicHealing.us.