Reprinted from article created for Mayshad Woman Magazine 2017
Today I'm writing about a muscle that by now many of you have heard about, called the psoas. Connecting the the spine to the legs, the psoas is the deepest muscle in the body and relates to many essential functions that are not always obvious.
Taoists call the psoas the “muscle of the soul,” as it surrounds every major energy center of body. With such an important position, it is no wonder that it is of tantamount importance that we keep this muscle juicy and healthy so that it can do its job energizing the body, stabilizing the core, keeping the joints mobile, and adding optimum vigor to our organs.
In actuality, the psoas emerges from both sides of the spine, spanning laterally from the twelfth vertebra to each of the five lumbar vertebrae. From there it goes down through the abdomen into the pelvis and attaches to the top of the thighbone, otherwise known as the femur.
With all of these essential connections, the psoas is responsible for keeping us upright, stabilizing the spine, lifting our legs for walking and running, and forming a platform for all of our vital organs. And how does the psoas stay attached to these areas of the body? Through the connective tissue, or fascia, which is found throughout the body, keeping everything inside us in place.
On a more esoteric level, the psoas also connects to our animal, or reptilian brain. This is located in the interior part of our brain stem and spinal cord and is responsible for our instinct, including the well known “fight or flight” mechanism.
Unfortunately all the sitting we do causes the psoas to tighten, shortening the muscle, which can be the cause of lower back pain, hip degeneration, knee pain, sciatica, digestive malfunction, and a host of other problems. A tight psoas creates all sorts of structural challenges while putting pressure on the nerves, blocking the flow of the body's fluids, and even restricting our breathing. The psoas is so key to health that when it is not lubricated and stretched properly it can affect our basic physical and emotional reactions, signaling that the body is in danger, causing adrenal exhaustion and the depletion of the immune system.
It should be easy to understand why keeping the psoas flexible is tantamount to health. By gaining greater awareness of positions that distort our posture, we can provide greater respect to this grand muscle. By engaging in exercises that help to keep the psoas lubricated and lengthened, we help ourselves to a more vital energy flow throughout our muscles, bones, joints, as well as our immune, respiratory, and circulatory systems.
Choose exercise techniques that focus on keeping the psoas and the fascia flexible. Body Activation, Gyrotonics, and yoga taught by seasoned instructors will help you with this, allowing you to stay healthy, happy, youthful, and pain-free.
Michele Kadison is the creator of Body Activation, a healing fitness technique that transforms the body from the inside out.