The psoas muscle is one of the most important muscles we have.
Without this pivotal group of muscles, we won’t actually be able to get up from bed in the morning. But, it’s also essential in enabling us to dance, run, do yoga, or lie on the couch.
The psoas muscles are the connection between our upper body part and the legs. These muscles influence our posture and help us keep the spine stable.
These muscles are made of slow and fast twitching muscles. Since they’re major flexors, being weak may cause other, surrounding muscles to compensate for them and as a result, become overused.
In fact, tight psoas muscles may be the underlying cause of plenty of pains you’re experiencing, including pain in the pelvic area and in the low back.
Too much standing and twisting from the waist without moving the feet or any other movements which make the leg rotate externally while it’s extended (ballet leg lifts, sit-ups, etc.) can strain these muscles.
Symptoms of Psoas Muscle Imbalance
- Pain in the knees and low back
If you struggle with knee or spine aches without any apparent reason, it may be due to tension in the psoas muscles.
When the femur is locked into the hip socket because of the tight psoas, joint rotation can’t occur properly and results in knee and spine torque.
- Posture issues
When you have too short or too tight psoas mussels, the pelvis may be pulled into an anterior tilt.
This causes the spine to compress and contributes to a so-called duck butt. If the psoas is too stretched and weak, it may result in a flat butt due to the flatter natural curve of the lumbar spine.
- A discrepancy in leg length
When the psoas is tight, it may cause the pelvis to rotate forward.
This contributes to a leg rotation onto the affected side. The other leg will rotate externally as it tries to counterbalance.
This will make the affected leg longer so whenever you take a step, it will drive up the leg into the hip socket, resulting in leg discrepancy.
- Menstrual cramps
A psoas muscle imbalance may be partially responsible for strong menstrual cramps due to the extra pressure it puts onto the reproductive organs in women.
- Difficult bowel movements
When the psoas muscles are too tight, it may contribute to constipation.
This is because plenty of lumbar nerves and blood vessels pass through and near these muscles.
Having tight psoas muscles may slow down the blood flow and nerve impulses to the legs and pelvic organs.
The torso is also shortened and the space for the internal organs is smaller. As a result, food absorption and removal of toxins aren’t optimal.
5 Ways to Maintain the Health of the Psoas Muscles
- Introduce flexibility exercises
Resistance flexibility exercises do wonders for the fascia.
To make the psoas stronger, lie on the back with the hips abutting the wall. Lift up one leg so it’s placed straight against the well.
Extend the other and bend it. With the hands, slow down the movement and use them as resistance.
Bring the bent knee towards the chest. Keep the raised leg pressed into the wall. Repeat the same with the position of the legs changed.
- Get a massage
A professional massage can help reduce the tension in the psoas muscles.
Assisted stretches and yoga are also great for improving the balance of the psoas.
- Manage stress and traumas
Stress is stored in the body if we don’t release it properly.
And, too much tension in the body may also be caused by unhealed traumas from the past.
To release stress on a daily basis, opt for walks in nature, baths, meditation, yoga, exercise, social interactions, etc.
- Try the constructive rest position
This position is a great way to reduce pelvic, hip, and low back tension and also places the body in a neutral position.
To do it, lay on the back. Bend the knees and place the feet on the floor, hip-width apart and parallel to each other. Distance the heels slightly from the buttocks.
Don’t push the spine into the floor or tuck the pelvis. Place the arms over the belly. Repeat this for 10 to 20 minutes daily to let go of tension and restore the health of the psoas muscles.
- Don’t sit for prolonged periods of time
If you have to spend long hours in a sitting position due to work or for some other reason, do it properly.
Keep the spine upright and the hips a bit higher than the knees. Support your buttocks with a pillow.
This will keep the psoas muscles relaxed and lengthen the hamstrings. Always sit on chairs with support for the back and do your best to stand up and move every hour or so.