The Psoas

The Psoas muscle is a deep, strong muscle that cuddles into the lower half of the spine. Specifically, it begins at the 12th thoracic vertebrae, snuggles along each of the 5 lumbar vertebrae and attaches onto the femur bone at the lesser trochanter. It is a primary hip flexor, in that it brings the femur toward the torso. It has also been described as the muscle that stabilizes the spine, bridging the legs and the torso – giving you the sense of grounding and the feeling of being centered.Many people often complain that their psoas is tight, especially in its role as hip flexor. They can feel it limiting them as they move into Camel or Warrior, for example. They become frustrated because, while they take time to stretch the “begeezers” out of their psoas, it doesn’t seem to make a difference.

So what’s up?

To give the psoas the opportunity to work at its most functional length it needs to have the cooperation of a balanced weight-bearing pelvis. As the pelvis becomes balanced, the psoas will be able to provide stability, strength, grounding and centering. Without a balanced weight-bearing pelvis, the psoas stretching will merely be a lesson in frustration.

A balanced weight-bearing pelvis

A balanced weight-bearing pelvis refers to the pelvis when we are in standing or are when we are walking/running. The pelvis needs to be balanced in order for our upper body to transfer weight adequately to our lower body. If the weight transfer of the upper body –via head, neck, rib cage and spine – through the hip sockets, legs, knees and feet is inadequate, the psoas will be called upon to provide extra assistance, to make up for the imbalance of the pelvis. Often one side of the psoas is called upon more than the other. Over time, this can lead to mild, or not so mild scoliosis, problems in the hip joint, misalignment of spinal vertebrae, and generally speaking – poor stability and strength. Balanced Pelvis: a snapshot

The muscles of the pelvis that primarily affect the action of the psoas are the lateral or external rotators – specifically, the Obturators and the Piriformis. There are other muscles involved, however, when these 2 muscles become tight, they cause the pelvis to tip forward (or tilt), which causes the Psoas to tighten where it attaches to the femur. They also affect the pelvic floor muscles, making it more difficult to access mula bandha, weakening the abdominal wall, and straining the back extensor muscles. As you regain function through your Obturators and Piriformis, you will regain function through your psoas, and your entire core.