You *Need* to Prioritize Stretching Your Psoas Muscle – Here’s Why
Do you feel tight after you run? Do you stumble out of bed with a sore lower back? Do you find yourself facing frequent digestion issues that can be… uncomfortable, to say the least?
A tight psoas muscle may be to blame. Here’s what the psoas muscle is and why it’s so important to stretch it. Plus, try these psoas muscle stretches in your stretching routine.
What is the psoas muscle?
The psoas muscle (pronounced “so-az”) is found in the lower lumbar region of your spine and stretches through the pelvis to the femur. It’s part of the iliopsoas muscle, along with the psoas minor and the iliacus. As a Wild Health team member notes, “The psoas is an incredible muscle and the only one to cross the upper and lower body. It has attachments on the femur and the lower vertebrae.”
While the psoas may not be a muscle you see (or even feel, if you’re not familiar with it), it’s an incredibly important core muscle with a major role in supporting your skeleton. It helps guide the transfer of weight from your torso to your legs, keeping you stable and balanced as you move throughout your day. But, if you have muscular imbalances, weaknesses, or injuries, your psoas might overcompensate and become shorter and tighter.
The psoas also acts as an internal shelf for your organs, supporting your kidneys and adrenals. This placement, and its role in keeping fluid moving throughout your body, makes it really important to your overall health.
What happens if the psoas muscle is tight?
Like we mentioned earlier, the psoas muscle is meant to facilitate balanced, supported movement throughout your body; it functions best when it’s relaxed and released. If the psoas is shortened and tight, you might experience a tilted pelvis, overdeveloped thigh muscles (or quads), knee pain, and/or lower back injuries.
And a tight psoas doesn’t just affect how you move, either. According to a Wild Health team member, “The psoas also plays an important role in digestive health. A tight psoas can cause gut tension and constipation, and less toxin release.” That’s likely because a shortened psoas limits space in the abdominal cavity, constricting your organs, compressing your nerves, and even affecting your diaphragmatic breathing. In a nutshell, it’s not comfortable – it might even worsen digestive issues and menstrual cramps.
Finally, the psoas may play a role in holding onto trauma. As a Wild Health expert puts it, “The body stores trauma in different places, and this can cause chronic pain. We tend to store trauma in our neck, low back, and hips.” If you’ve experienced emotional trauma, your “fight or flight” syndrome has probably been in overdrive, and your muscles unconsciously tense during moments of panic or anxiety. Excess tension will cause your psoas muscle to shorten and tighten. Plus, chronic stress can cause a loss of meaningful connection between your body and your mind, meaning you might not even realize something is wrong.
Best psoas muscle stretches
Ready to start releasing and loosening your psoas? Try these stretches for your hip flexors:
- Deep runner’s lunge
- Kneeling hip flexor stretch
- Glute bridge
- Half frog
- Hero pose
- Supported side plank reach
- Long-step lunges
Or, try yoga for the psoas muscle. This yoga for your psoas video from Yoga With Adriene is a good start.
Want to learn more about the long-reaching impact of your psoas muscle? Book a free coaching call to speak with a Wild Health expert and learn more about how we can help you optimize your health.