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Your Psoas Muscle Is the Most Vital Muscle in Your Body

The psoas muscle (pronounced SO-as) is one of the most important muscle in your body. Without this essential muscle group, you would not even be able to get out of bed in the morning. When you are running, bike, dance, practice yoga, or just hang out on your couch, your psoas muscles are involved. That is because your psoas muscles are the primary connectors between your torso and your legs and they affect your posture and also helps to stabilise your spine.

Psoas muscles is made of both slow and fast twitching muscles. Because they are major flexors, weak psoas muscles can cause many of the surrounding muscles to compensate and become overused. That is why a tight or overstretched psoas muscle could be the cause of many of your aches and pains, including low back and pelvic pain.

The types of movement that can strain your psoas muscles include standing and twisting from your waist without moving your feet, or any movement that causes your leg to externally rotate while extended, such as ballet-style leg lifts, and even doing too many sit-ups.

What is Your Psoas Muscles?

The psoas muscles are the deepest of you core muscle. They are attached from the 12th thoracic vertebrae, to your 5th lumbar vertebrae, through your pelvis, and then finally attach to your femurs (thigh bone). In fact, they are the only muscles that connect your spine to your legs.

Your Psoas Muscles 

Your Psoas Muscles functions are as follow: 

  • Allow you to bend your hips and legs toward your chest, for example, when you are going up stairs. They also help to move your leg forward when you walk or run.
  • These same muscles flex your trunk forward when you bend over to pick up something from the floor.
  • They also stabilize your trunk and spine during movement and sitting.
  • Your Psoas muscles supports the internal organs, and work like hydraulic pumps allowing blood and lymph to be pushed in and out of your cells. 
  • They are vital not only to your structural well-being but also to your psychological well-being because of their connection to your breath.
  • Being startled or under stress, the psoas will contracts. In other words, your psoas has a direct influence on your fight-or-flight response!
  • Prolonged periods of stress, your psoas will contract, can cause back pain and  referred pain down the thigh and groin area.
  • Sitting for long periods of time, engage in excessive running or walkingsleep in the fetal position, or do a lot of sit-ups causes stress and contracting of the psoas. All of these activities compress the front of your hip and shorten your psoas muscle

7 Ways to Tell If You Have a Psoas Muscle Imbalance

When you have a tight psoas muscle, you may experience pain in your lower back or in your hips, especially when lifting your legs. This is caused by the muscle compressing the discs in the lumbar region of your back. Stretching your muscles and releasing the tension on the psoas is the best way to prevent this from happening. It takes time and daily attention to keep your psoas muscles relaxed, stretched, and strong.

Most people with psoas issues have tight psoas muscles, there are some people whose psoas muscles can be overstretched. In this case, if you stretch your psoas and it is already overstretched, you will cause more problems.

  1. Leg length discrepancy.

A tight psoas muscle can cause your pelvis to rotate forward. This, in turn, can cause an internal rotation of your leg on the affected side. The opposite leg will rotate externally in an effort to counterbalance. This will make the affected leg longer so that every time you take a step, it drives your leg up into your hip socket. This can lead to functional leg length discrepancy.

2. Knee and low back pain.

If you experience knee or low back pain with no apparent cause, it may be coming from your psoas muscles. When your femur is in essence locked into your hip socket due to a tight psoas muscle, rotation in the joint can’t occur. This can cause your knee and low back torque.

3. Postural problems

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 cause the sacrum to lose its natural curve and result 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.

4. Difficulty moving your bowels

A tight psoas muscle can contribute to or even cause constipation. A large network of lumbar nerves and blood vessels passes through and around the psoas muscles. Tightness in the psoas muscles can impede blood flow and nerve impulses to the pelvic organs and legs. In addition, when the psoas is tight, your torso shortens, decreasing the space for your internal organs. This affects food absorption and elimination. As such it can contribute to constipation, as well as sexual dysfunction.

5. Menstrual cramps.

An imbalance in your psoas muscles can be partially responsible for menstrual cramps, as it puts added pressure on your reproductive organs.

6. Chest breathing.

A tight psoas muscle can create a thrusting forward of the ribcage. This causes shallow, chest breathing, which limits the amount of oxygen taken in and encourages overuse of your neck muscles.

7. Feeling exhausted.

Your psoas muscles create a muscular shelf that your kidneys and adrenals rest on. As you breathe properly, your diaphragm moves and your psoas muscles gently massage these organs, stimulating blood circulation. But when the psoas muscles become imbalanced, so do your kidneys and adrenal glands, causing physical and emotional exhaustion.

How to maintain a Happy and Healthy Psoas Muscles

  1. Avoid sitting for extended periods.

Sit with good posture and be sure your hips are level or slightly higher than your knees. It’s a good idea to put a towel folded lengthwise under your hips when sitting. This tilt the pelvis in a way that lengthens the hamstrings and relaxes the psoas muscles. Try to get up and move around every hour.

2. Add support to your car seat.

You can just use a rolled-up towel underneath your sit bones and/or behind your lumbar spine to keep the psoas and hip sockets released. If you are traveling long distances, stop every 3 hours to stretch and walk around for 10 minutes.

3. Lay off extreme exercise routines. 

Alternate your workouts if you are a power walker, distance runner, or sprinter, or even if you do a lot of sit-ups.

Get a professional Remedial Massage.

Getting a professional Remedial Massage will help relieve a tight psoas muscle. Understand that this work is not the most comfortable but can be of great benefit. In fact, getting myofascial release on a regular basis helps to keep your psoas, and all of your muscles, fluid. Assisted stretching (as with a resistance flexibility trainer) and yoga are also excellent ways to restore balance to your psoas 

Pay attention to your pelvis! 

The length of the psoas determines whether or not your pelvis is free to move. To tell whether your psoas muscles are tight or overstretched, stand sideways by a mirror (or even better, have a friend take a photo of you from the side). Note the position of your pelvis.

Release stress and past traumas

We store stress in our bodies, tension in the hips and usually not just caused by lifestyle, age, and physical events such as injuries or accidents. It is also due to mental stress and unhealed traumas. Releasing stress daily can help keep your psoas healthy. Take a leisurely walk. Soak in a bath with Epsom salts. Acknowledge your emotions, express them, and release them. 

What to do if you Suspect You Have Psoas Syndrome

People who suffer from psoas syndrome have certain symptoms in common, they are as follow:

  • Primary symptoms are in the lumbosacral region when sitting or standing and pain that worsens when doing anything that bends the hip, such as walking, climbing stairs, squatting, and sitting. 
  • You may also have difficulty standing erect. Pain in the glutes is another common symptom, especially contralateral pain that radiates down the opposite leg. This pain usually stops at the knee. 
  • Pain in the lower abdomen, groin, iliac crest, and thigh/leg are also common.

If you suffer from these symptoms, be sure to see your health care provider to rule out other conditions and injuries. You may need a physical exam of your back and hip and diagnostic tests. 

Seek a professional Remedial massage therapist that have experience in treating psoas syndrome and use specific techniques, such as joint clearing, soft tissue release, cross-fibre massage, muscle energy, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching to help relieve symptoms.

During your visit your condition will be assessed and steps taken to assist with your rehabilitation. After the session FREE muscle stretching sheets can be provided to assist with healing your injury. It is recommended that you continue these exercises at home to speed up the healing process. To book in for a session, please call Jade Tran on 0425 444 304. I hope you found the article helpful in further understanding your symptoms. Any opinions expressed within my articles/blog are from my personal perspective, not that of my Professional Associations / Educational Institutions
.Articles are intended to convey information only and should not being misconstrued as medical advice. If you have any concerns regard to medical matter, you need to consult a professional healthcare provider.

 I will not compensate you in any way what so ever should you happen to suffer death/injury/loss/inconvenience/damage due to the information contain in this article.