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  • Writer's pictureLauren Burnham

(In)famous Psoas

My what muscle? If you are like most people, that’s probably your reaction to hearing about the Psoas muscle. Yet this muscle is one of the most important, without it you wouldn’t be able to get out of the bed in the morning!

The Psoas muscle is the deepest muscle you have in your core. Because of this deep location is is often referred to as the heart of your core muscles. It runs from the lumbar region of the lower back to the inner pelvic area. Specifically, it’s attached from the 12th thoracic vertebrae to the 5 lumbar vertebrae, through the core and pelvic region and the end is attached to the top of the femur. It is made of both slow and fast twitching muscles. This is the only muscle that connects the spine to the legs.

When combined with the Iliacus muscle it is referred to as the Iliopsoas and primarily it’s responsible for the rotation and flexion of the hip muscle. It contracts the trunk and is responsible for the lifting of the knees when you are standing or for the lifting of the body if you are lying down.

The importance of the Psoas muscle is that it allows you to stand, run, walk, and move your pelvic area. When you are standing it is one of the core muscles allowing you to remain upright, stabilizing your spine and providing a shelf for your organs to rest upon. Physically, it gives you the ability to bend your body laterally and move your body towards your knees or your knees towards you body. It also permits the external rotation of the hip. Think about how much you move during the day, even if you have a rather sedentary lifestyle the muscle is always at work. A strong, relaxed Psoas muscle lets you feel grounded and centered.

Since its attached to your diaphragm it affects your breathing and how you respond to fear and excitement. This means the muscle has a direct influence on your fight or flight response. While this is a physical muscle its energy directly impacts your feelings and psyche. This energy flows through joints muscle supports, giving you a complete sense of overall body connection. Once you have strengthened the Psoas muscle and fully joined your upper and lower body you will move more efficiently. Your body will be more fluid and sturdy when you twist or bend, and your posture will be stronger.

When you have a tight Psoas muscle you’ll primarily notice it through pain in your lower back or in your hips when lifting your legs. This is caused by the muscle compressing the discs in the lumbar region of your back. Stretching the muscles and releasing the tension on Psoas is the best way to prevent this from happening. Stretching the Psoas muscle is not something that can be done once and gain instant results, it requires attention on a daily basis to keep it relaxed, stretched, and strong.  

Here are some videos with my favorite stretches: 

Pick your favorites and do them daily!

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