How to Have Happy Psoas

The Many Ways to Release Tensions

 

Sitting shortens the psoas and as Biomechanics expert Katy Bowman says, “when the psoas ain’t happy, the pelvic floor, the hips, and the spine aren’t happy either”1 it is important to help the psoas be happy. Here we explore the various ways we can release the psoas.

The Hip Flexion Society – Why Sitting Isn’t Good?

A “hip flexion society” is a population that is more and more sedentary. How many hours a day do you sit? At the computer, commuting, watching TV or movies, reading, playing video games…

Sitting is a relaxed hip flexion position: relaxed, because the hip flexor muscles are not working against resistance (contracting). They are in a flexed state, with the full weight of the torso above seated into the pelvic floor, and the lower extremities inactive. It is a position which, if held too long, will inhibit circulation, muscle conditioning, and even nerve response. It can be a direct cause of lower back, psoas, and sciatic issues; the hip flexors begin to shorten and weaken, and over time create a myriad of problems.

Jo Ann Staugaard-Jones

Learn more about the psoas (pronounced “so-az”) in The Vital Psoas Muscle by Jo Ann Staugaard-Jones.  The psoas, the only muscle that connects the upper and lower body, are a lumbar spine and hip stabilizer and connector to the lower extremity. She writes that the psoas can “balance the core, stimulate organs and nerves, contract, release, stabilize, neutralize or deteriorate like any other muscle, and create movement and flow to be transmitted throughout the body.”2

A psoas that won’t release can affect baby position in utero. It can prevent the hips from extending and the glutes from building. It can compress the disks in the spinal column. It can keep the hamstrings and the calf muscles short.

Katy Bowman, Alignment Matters

Tips to Release the Psoas

Walk Right

Straighten the leg before you step down on the ground and have a long stride behind you. According to Katy Bowman, lifting the leg, instead of swinging it forward, uses the psoas, which should not be the muscle used every step.3

Stand more

Sitting shortens the psoas and we sit a lot. Opt for a standing workstation. If you must sit, choose a chair with a flat seat to support the sit bones and stabilize the pelvis, minimizing tension on the psoas and sit with your hips higher than your knees, front of your sit bones, feet on the floor, and loose jaw.4 Stand up regularly and move around.

Squat

Proper squats are good for building strength for the pelvis, core, and hips. It also protects the psoas.

Check out this post You Don’t Know Squat by Katy Bowman on her website Nutritious Movement for exercises to prep the body and how to squat the right way or this post on the box squat by Liz Koch.

 

yoga-for-psoas-matthew-kane

Stretch

The psoas, part of the deep core and synergistic with numerous muscles, have many attachments so what to stretch? Chances are the psoas are shortened if you spend a lot of time sitting. Some easy-to-do stretches to release the psoas include the half bridge, lunge, spinal stretch, spinal twist, the windmill, and the Cobra. The Pigeon Pose really releases the psoas and it feels oh-so-good. Read how these specific yoga asanas are great for the psoas and give you freedom. Pilates exercises such as The Hundred can also strengthen the psoas.

Relax

Stress and trauma are held in the muscles, even for years in the deep muscles such as the psoas. Bodywork, relaxation exercises, meditation, and trauma release are important to incorporate in your routine. Build body awareness by regularly scanning yourself for areas of tension and stress. Savasana or the Corpse Pose is a great asana to surrender and let go physically, emotionally, and mentally.

 

Yoga postures connect the body to the mind.

Breathing connects the mind and body to the unconscious.

Meditation connects the present to the universe.

The psoas major connects the upper body to the lower body, linking breath to movement, feelings, energy, and healing.

Jo Ann Staugaard-Jones, The Vital Psoas Muscle

 


1 Alignment Matters. Katy Bowman. Propriometrics Press. 2013. p 159.
2 The Vital Psoas Muscle. Jo Ann Stauggard-Jones. Lotus Publishing. 2012. p18
3 Alignment Matters, p267
4 Sitting At Your Computer by Liz Koch.

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