The Muscle of Your Soul
Your psoas muscle is the deepest core muscle of the human body. It is the only muscle that connects your trunk to your lower limb and plays a key role in maintaining posture, stability, and balance. It also plays a part in encouraging effective diaphragmatic breathing which we know is so powerful in optimizing oxygen flow into the muscles and tissues, key for performance, recovery, mindfulness, and relaxation.
The psoas muscle is part of the iliopsoas muscle, the strongest hip flexor in the human body. It attaches to the sides of the vertebrae in your lower back, descends along the back of the abdominal wall, crosses the pelvic inlet/brim, and forms a long tendon where it attaches to the top, inner side of your thigh bone. When it flexes, it brings your thigh up towards your chest. It helps hike your hips up one at a time when you walk or run and plays a role in bending your torso to the side.
It is a powerful postural muscle as well as a dynamic mover. Having a psoas that is shortened and tight – highly likely if you sit for prolonged periods of time, and then run or cycle as your exercise – can be problematic on a number of levels.
Quick pause: The human body is extremely complicated. The psoas is one of the most complicated muscles in the body. Forgive all my over simplifications, and take my suggestions as simply that: suggestions.
A shortened, tight psoas will pull the vertebrae in your lumbar spine down and forward resulting in an anterior tilt in your pelvis or overarching of the low back. It is likely difficult to “flatten your back” or tuck your tailbone under. When you perform static core exercises (plank and dead bug) it may be challenging to get your abdominal muscles to fire and these postures may make your low back sore or tender. Your low back – and indeed your whole body – may tire when you stand prolonged periods of time.
Mobilizing the psoas can be beneficial and should be done carefully. One of the best mobility exercises I have found is an ½ Kneeling Upright Lunge. Best to keep your spine neutral, your hips positioned over your back knee (vs leaning too far forward) and gently increase the stretch on each exhale by flexing the glute and the abdominals of the back leg to encourage a slight posterior pelvic tilt. Repeat this for 5-10 breaths. Then, if you feel comfortable, extend the arm (same side as the back leg) straight up in the air. On each exhale, reach the arm over the midline towards the other side. In effect, reaching the bottom rib away from your hip, or laterally bending away from the back leg.
For many individuals, it seems more effective to mobilize the psoas muscle dynamically in conjunction with the other muscles around the hip. For the Trainer Moves today, I am taking you through a whole sequence of mobility movements based on Fascial Stretch Techniques. I hope you find it helpful!
Inspiration of the Day
"It's impossible," said pride. "It's risky," said experience. "It's pointless," said reason. "Give it a try," whispered the heart. – Author Unknown.
Live Workout of the Day
Happy Monday! We've got TWO classes on tap for you today!
METCON WITH XOCHIL
This high energy workout will have you moving your whole body. Combining movements that challenge your endurance, strength, and coordination for a tough yet fun workout. (All levels)
Recommended equipment: Dumbbells
Join Xochil at 8:15am (30 minutes) from your own living room.
Click here to join the workout.
Meeting ID: 821 2903 5416
TOTAL BODY CONDITIONING WITH PENNY
Join Penny today for her Total Body Conditioning workout! Challenge your cardio and strengthen your muscles from head to toe with this incredibly effective no-nonsense bodyweight training.
Recommended equipment: chair, stool, or something steady that you can step on (not mandatory!)
Join Penny at 12:00pm (30 minutes) from your own living room.
Click here to join the workout.
Meeting ID: 864 5295 2847
THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE
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If you have questions about our virtual live workouts, please reach out to Lauren.
Trainer Moves of the Day
My colleague Cquen took you through an amazing version of a Hip Opener using Fascial Stretch techniques a number of weeks ago. This version is a little different and will hopefully help you start to open up through that psoas muscle more effectively. Before a run or bike ride I run through the series quite quickly and I note it makes a huge impact on my ability to both perform and recover effectively. Some days this mobility drill is all I do – as I feel so fabulous afterwards!
For questions about today’s Trainer Moves, you can connect directly with Meg here.
Do you have a “Something of the Day” you’d like us to share?! Email Meg.