Why Is Your Psoas Muscle Key to Fighting Back Pain?

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Personal/Fitness Training Blog

The world may be slowly reopening, however it turns out that post-lockdown life, for a lot of us, still includes plenty of sitting and scrolling in addition to TikTok viewing. It can lead to feeling slightly stiff and creaky. However, it’s not just a matter of just feeling a little old — many of these aching feelings are worth looking into and working on, as opposed to ignoring or just complaining about.

Whether or not you know it, you have a psoas muscle. It’s a muscle — or, more correctly, pair of muscles — that run from your lower back to your hip flexors, linking into your femurs. And it’s important. It’s one of the most essential muscles that no one is talking about.

It’s your deepest core muscle as well as the only muscle in your body which crosses the lumbar spine and the hip joint. As more and more people are sitting more and moving less during the day, issues with this main hip flexor can cause a waterfall of challenges from compensation concerns to knee pain to discomfort which radiates down the leg and more.  Going about your day-to-day with a wonky psoas muscle can result in a higher risk for other problems, ranging from postural changes to shortened stride length — which can really mess with running as well as walking.

What The Psoas Muscles Are Made Of

The psoas muscles are made up of both slow as well as fast twitching muscles. As they are major flexors, weak psoas muscles may cause many of the surrounding muscles to compensate and turn out to be overused. That is the reason why a tight or overstretched psoas muscle could be the source of many of your aches and pains, involving lower back as well as pelvic pain.

The kinds of movement which can strain your psoas muscles include:

  • Standing and twisting from your waist short of moving your feet (think about old-fashioned calisthenics),
  • Any movement which causes your leg to rotate externally while extended, such as ballet-style leg lifts (or battement), as well as
  • Even performing too many sit-ups (your psoas muscles are responsible for completing the last half of a sit-up).

However, as many experts don’t fully understand the complexity of the psoas muscles, it’s not unusual for individuals to be given the wrong diagnoses as well as treatments for their psoas-related pain.

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What Do The Psoas Muscles Do?

The psoas muscles support your internal organs as well as work just like hydraulic pumps, allowing blood and lymph to be pushed into and out of your cells. They are essential not only to your structural well-being but also to your psychological well-being owing to their connection to your breath.

Here’s why.

There are two tendons for the diaphragm (which are called the crura) which extend down and connect with the spine alongside where the psoas muscles connect. One of the ligaments (i.e., the medial arcuate) wraps all over the top of each psoas.

In addition, the diaphragm and the psoas muscles are connected with fascia that also connects the other hip muscles. These connections between the psoas muscle as well as the diaphragm literally connect your ability to walk and breathe and in addition to how you respond to fear and excitement. When you are surprised or under stress, your psoas contracts. Your psoas has a direct impact on your fight-or-flight response.

During protracted periods of stress, your psoas is continually contracted. Exactly the same contraction occurs when you sit for long periods of time, take part in excessive running or walking, sleep in the foetal position, or do a lot of sit-ups. All of these activities compress the front of your hip and shorten your psoas muscle.

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