If you could look deeply into the abdominal core from the front of your body, the final layer of muscle attaching into the anterior portion of your lower back or lumbar spine is the Psoas Major, part of the hip flexor muscle group.
This anchor for our lower or lumbar spine is coupled in the lower back by our spinal erector muscle group, which gives our very vulnerable lumbar spine support and stability. Like everywhere else in our body structure, the balance between both sides of the joints is always key to achieving optimal position, mobility, and function.
The consequences of tight psoas
Some are calling it “muscular amnesia.” In this scenario, the hip flexors adaptively shorten and the poor lumbar muscles adaptively weaken. Postural control in the lower back has all but ceased to exist. Tight psoas affects your mobility, especially in stride length. The psoas is also key to the structural balance due to its left/right tilting and rotational components. As the psoas has several attachments into our diaphragm, it also affects our breathing and ultimately our oxygen uptake. Sitting, tight clothing, and narrow shoes distort our posture, curtailing our natural movements, and further constricting our psoas muscles.
The lifelong chronic stress put on the psoas can lead to many problems like back, hip, or knee pain and even digestive issues and dysfunctional breathing. It could also be a major cause of why people suffer from chronic physical pain. In addition to its function to help keep the body upright and moving, the psoas is the link and connector between our upper and lower bodies, creating a smooth distribution of ground reaction forces from toe to occiput.
Lengthening the psoas, whether for increased speed or improved breathing, will make you feel more grounded and more aware of your lumbar pelvic pivot point, often referred to as your center of gravity. In our opinion, almost all back pain and knee pain is linked or associated with constricted and dysfunctional Psoas movement. When you are made aware of where the psoas is, what it feels like when touched and how, when released, it can reset the whole of your body structure you will realize how free you really can be. Just let it go and see what your movement potential is and how your mental stress just fades away.
How can you relieve tight psoas?
Whilst deep tissue massage might give you some relief, stretching is the most effective way to relieve tightness in our hip flexors. By lengthening the fascia around the muscle, stretching will help correct some of the postural imbalance that is the source of aggravated strain in the lower back.
Daily practice of certain stretching yoga poses, like the Crescent Lunge pose or the Ustrasana (Camel Pose) will help. However, few men have the time, the inclination, or the patience required in regular yoga practice, let alone flexible enough to get started. So those with little time to spare will greatly appreciate the assistance of a well trained and experienced Stretch therapist.
If you need help releasing your tight hip flexor muscles, give us a shout. The Active Isolated Stretching technique we specialize in will give you fast and lasting results.