Musicians' Health Collective

Musicians' Health Collective: Supporting the health of musicians

PSOAS I was saying...

The psoas is one of the stranger named muscles in the body- the letter "p" is silent, and much like the piriformis, most folks think something is wrong with their psoas, but they don't know where it is and why it might be hurting. 

Dr Netter was a doctor and creator of the Atlas of Human Anatomy, a hefty anatomy tome still popular today for its detailed renderings of the body.

Dr Netter was a doctor and creator of the Atlas of Human Anatomy, a hefty anatomy tome still popular today for its detailed renderings of the body.

The psoas is your filet mignon, literally.  On quadrapeds, it doesn't contact the pelvis en route to touching the femurs, and is very tender, lacking in fat.  Your psoas has a much larger job, since you are bipedal.  It co-creates your lumbar lordosis (see last week's post) along with your spine, attaches lower body to upper, and is a big part of fight or flight in autonomic nervous system.   In addition, when we sit all the time, our psoas will adaptively shorten (AKA. shrink in response to mechanical input), which can affect the position of the pelvis and spine.
  If you've ever biked a lot, sat a lot, or done another seated activity and then felt like you couldn't stand up straight afterwards, blame it on the psoas.  So what you can you do to realign, especially if you have back or hip pain?

This beautiful image from the Body Moveable, by David Gorman, shows how the psoas acts in sitting, and how it can flex the hips i sitting.  Notice the two images on the right and how the length and role of the psoas differs.

This beautiful image from the Body Moveable, by David Gorman, shows how the psoas acts in sitting, and how it can flex the hips i sitting.  Notice the two images on the right and how the length and role of the psoas differs.

-Stop wearing heels so often in standing, since that misaligns the pelvis either to anterior or posterior pelvic tuck.

-Don't always sit in a chair to use your computer.  Can you stand? Sit on the floor? Squat?  Mix it up-the chair brings us to this constant position of a 90 degree hip flexion angle which isn't great.

-Replace some of your seated activities with activities that require hip extension, the opposing action of flexion.  Walking (not on a treadmill, but real over ground) requires extension, cross country skiing, running...vs. cycling, treadmill movement, elliptical.  For more on treadmills, see Katy Bowman's blog.

-Have a movement professional take a look at how you stand and see whether the psoas might be affecting your alignment in sitting and standing.

-Look at the emotional connection with the psoas and see how it relates to fight and flight. (Thanks to Barbara Loomis' awesome blog)

-Try this AWESOME psoas strengthening/release.  We don't necessarily just want to stretch the psoas- we want it to be strong and supple.

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