It is possible that you may not have heard of your psoas major muscle, it is not high up there in the muscle popularity stakes, at least not yet…
The psoas muscle is often overlooked, before I started yoga, I know little of its existence, yet this all encompassing muscle has the unique distinction of being the only muscle that connects the upper body to the lower body. Functional ramifications are vast, whether it is acts as a prime mover or stabiliser, either upper body or lower body movement, it’s all going on in the psoas.
I focus my yoga on ‘functional movement’ - teaching people to move as they should, with stability in the spine, engaging the deep core muscles before we move into the postures. This will strengthen the core and develop the correct pattern of movement The psoas is an integral part, the powerhouse, of this functional movement.
But this is not the full story of the mighty psoas…
The psoas is most central to our ‘fight and flight’ response, storing adrenalin to be able to react in situations that require us to move urgently out of danger. Yet, these days, our stress can occur whilst we sit, so we cannot respond in the manner we were designed. Stress hormones go ‘unspent’ and become stored in the body. The psoas is located in a place where we often store stress or trauma which can influence our mood.
The combination of tight hips from a stressful sedentary life and a tightened psoas will continually signal back to the command centre that danger exists, drawing on adrenaline and compounding the problem.
Our bodies become ineffective at releasing stress which manifests in our thoughts as fear and anxiety, which can lead to many health problems down the line, including insomnia, eating disorders, depression, and just living under a veil of fear.
Gradual lifestyle changes will correct this situation. Becoming aware of you body, your breathing and focusing on switching from the ‘fight or flight’ (sympathetic nervous system) to rest, digest repair, (parasympathetic nervous system) mode will help tackle our responses to stressful situations.
Movement and stretching and strengthening a tight short psoas muscle will produce considerable benefits, if you were to spend a few moments each day, in a constructive rest pose, this will produce significant benefits. Even better and try some yoga, working with the breath through movement, there are a number of accessible postures designed precisely to alleviate tightness in this mighty muscle.
So if you want to learn more about the mighty psoas or the other 600 or so muscles in your body, get yourself along to a yoga class for some psoas tlc.