Vitamin M: Your Psoas hates you

Your Psoas is a muscle found deep inside your body and it hates you. It hates you more than you know, but it’s all your fault. Your Psoas was once a happy elastic pliable muscle filled with joy and only good intentions. Then things changed. You had to sit for hours on end because of school, then university and work. You also chose to sit endlessly in your free time, watching TV, playing games. You stopped moving through a full range of motion. You stopped moving in different ways, running, jumping, balancing, stretching and playing like when you were 5. Instead you played some sport or jogged or went to the gym thinking that this was enough. Enough to be healthy, mobile and pain free. Wrong! All those activities are patterns or collections of patterns that get repeated over and over and over ….. Yes the sports have a little bit more variety and chaos inherent in them, but doing one sport does not give you enough movement variety.

What is a Psoas anyway?

The Psoas is a muscle found in the Lumbar region of your body. It has attachment points on the lumbar and thoracic vertebrae and the femur. It is the largest and strongest member of the group of muscles known as the hip flexors. It is a connection between the upper and lower halves of the body.

psoas_major_and_min.jpg

A tight or fatigued Psoas can be responsible for many issues in the body, from lower back pain, hip issues to posture related problems.

Your body is awesome, but also a not so awesome…

The human body is an adaptation engine, it adapts to do what we ask of it and the things we don’t ask, it forgets how to do those.

If you don’t use it you lose it!

The movements we don’t do, we lose. The ranges we don’t use, we lose. It take energy to maintain ranges of motion, for the stabilizing muscle to work to keep stability in a healthy and mobile joint. When we don’t use that joint fully our body goes, “ well you’re not using it , so lets just tighten up the fascia to keep that joint stable so we don’t waste any energy.” Now you go through your daily life doing your day to day basic shit and someone says think fast and throws an ancient porcelain vase at you. You reach to catch it and you strain a hip flexor or your lowerback. Why? Because you never used your full range of motion on a regular basis and now your full range is diminished.

The example I gave is ridiculous and there are simpler examples like sitting and studying for hours on end, then going for a run and your lower back hurts. Sitting all day then going to play golf and your back gives out on your swing. You strain a groin kicking because your hips are tight and your stabilizers have become weak.

You body does your day to day things well, but can't handle the exceptions because your lifestyle does not prepare you for it. Your lifestyle is making you FRAGILE!

So whats the solution?

Move through a full range in many different ways. This applies to all the joints in the body and there are many ways to do it. The video below is a starting point. It is movements based on a Yoga sequence and It takes your hips through a full range of motion. (I got it from a YouTube yoga video a while ago, which I can't find now. I'll link the channel when I find it.) Do this or variations of this 2 – 3 times per week to get your hips loose. You can do parts of it or the whole thing. Do it before or after training, do it in a study break, do it at work. Just do it.

 If one of the movements gives you pain. Don’t do it. If part of a movement gives you pain, stay out of the painful range. What you want to feel is a stretch, not pain.

The sequence

  • Downward dog - Hold for 10- 20 sec
  • Down Lunge - drop and raise 3- 6 times
  • Side lunge reach - hold for 10-20 sec
  • Kneeling lunge - Reach up and to the side 3-6 times, turn towards front leg repeat the reach
  • High Lunge - Do the same as with the kneeling lunge
  • Windmill - lower down sliding your arm along the inside of  leg that is turned out, 3- 6 times
  • Repeat sequence on the other side

There you have it. Its a simple routine to do. You can scale it to your ability, you want to feel a light stretch not a horrific tearing sensation. One session is not going to create miracles but moving through a range of motion regularly and challenging it will create an improvement. It took time to lose your mobility it will take time to regain it.

by Llewellyn Morkel