Fluid Movement: Awakening the Oh-So-Important Psoas

[This is a PART 2 post. Check out PART 1 blog on the psoas HERE.]

Tight hips?
Back pain?
Want to run faster?
Need more power on the bike or in your sport?
Are you aware of compensation patterns?

Let’s dive a little deeper into the important and popular topic of the psoas (“so-as”).
Some of this content below is extracted from the brilliance of internationally renowned yoga teacher, Richard Freeman* as well as training with Structural Integration guru Eli Thompson in Boston. Then I combine that research and training with experimentation in my own athlete body and observations made working with yoga clients in both group and private settings.

GLOBAL COMPENSATION IN THE BODY FROM LOCAL IMBALANCE.
We as humans have more commonality than differences, of course, but we are ALL UNIQUE. That uniqueness comes in our genetics and then in our habits and patterns – our bodies are uniquely customized by what we do day in and day out. But chronic movement patterns and holding patterns we habituate have a huge influence on our movement quality and staying pain free.

How the body distributes tension throughout the body and how the psoas can compensate for other imbalances, wreaking havoc in movement quality, staying pain free in the back and optimizing performance in any activity or sport.

A BIT OF ANATOMY
The psoas muscles flow like ribbons on each side of the body, just to the side of the pubic bone through the groin and attach to the upper and inner edges of the thighbones. They attach all along the lumbar spine, all the way to the bottom of the thorasic spine at T12!

Unlike some muscles, like the biceps, that thrive on being prodded and pumped to become strong and effective, if we strive too hard to release or stretch the psoas, then misaligned muscular tension or imbalances in the pelvis, hips, back and pelvic floor can occur.

PRACTICE
Releasing the psoas muscles help stabilize T12, so as we stretch from top to bottom of the psoas, the vertebra will stay positioned back, allowing for full, deep flow and movement of the breath. When this subtle pattern of expansion in the back body on the inhalation is achieved, the psoas’ companions (mainly the QL – quadratus lumborum) will also stay relaxed and released. This pattern is key in protracting the shoulder blades, which facilitates the action of when we reach our arm over head and stretch through the entire arm (as we do in mindful yoga postures) and in turn feeds back into the stretch of the psoas line.

TUNE’s winter practice approach will be exploring the PSOAS in a deeper and focused way. JOIN US.

  • Learn how to engage the psoas (traditional poses like triangle, side angle)
  • Test the psoas responsiveness
  • Activate the psoas (not strengthen but merely awaken to ensure its operating on all spindles)
  • Stretch the psoas – it tends to be short and tight from inactivity or too much activity and overcompensation of other muscles (TFL, QL, quads to name just a few) – lunges, W1, backbending

BONUS

HERE’S A NICE PRACTICE – we will explore very similar moves in a very deep dive during our winter season – January through March – when we focus on the psoas. Read more about all that HERE.

ATHLETE ARTICLE

*great book entitled The Art of Vinyasa – Awakening Body and Mind Through the Exploration of Ashtanga Yoga