Exercise regimens typically focus on the visible muscles. However, the less visible muscle provide structural support to the body: the psoas is particularly important in this regard. The psoas (to be used interchangeably with ilio-psoas / IP). The psoas plays a major role in good posture. Locomotion is tied closely to the functioning of the psoas. It is the only muscle the connects the upper body to the lower body. The activities that one chooses can support the functioning of this crucial muscle.
The psoas attaches to the lumbar vertebrae and inserts into the inner / upper part of the thigh bone. It operates in tandem with the iliacus. The ilio-psoas, (IP) as a group, is one of the strongest in the body. The bi-pedal human anatomy requires that the psoas be stable, yet pliable, enough to transfer forces form the ground and throughout the body. As one of the deeper, core muscles, tightness or weakness in this area can have ill effects on the body’s overall functioning.
Good posture does not exist in a vacuum. Extended periods of sitting and weak abdominals engender inadequate lower spine stabilization by the psoas. Lower spinal curvature of the lower spine towards the front of the body (lordosis) increases as a combination of these factors. The resultant postural compromise can lead to a host of ill effects on the body. According to a U.S. News and World Report article, these challenges can include shoulder / back pain, spinal / knee misalignment, fatigue, exacerbation of arthritis, mood fluctuations, poor circulation, forward head, jaw pain, sexual dysfunction, and breathing efficacy.
The position of the IP allows it to be a major influencer of hip flexion. What is hip flexion? Stand in place with feet about hip width apart. Take a step forward. The non-moving leg / foot grounds the body as the corresponding hip extends (pushes forward). The hip of the moving leg goes into flexion as the leg lifts for the foot lifts to step forward. This motion is important for stepping over things, kicking, running and walking.
The body functions as a unit due to the stabilizing activity of the deeper muscles. The psoas is instrumental here: it connects the upper body (torso / arms) to the lower body (hips / legs). Synchronous activation of the front and lateral abdominals, the lower back and the IP muscles is required for coordinated movement to occur. Not only does the IP connect the upper body to the lower body, it assists in stabilizing the body and moving the legs. All of this is happening at the same time.
Exercise regimens require stabilization from and activation of the ilio-psoas. There are upright stabilizing exercises that one can do (Standing tree pose / yoga, ballet barre movements) so that the hips can support various movements and activities. Strengthening exercises can be done (Standing side stretch, partial sit-ups) for enhancing the work capacity of the psoas. Exercises for stretching the psoas (i.e.: half bridge, runners lunge) can also be used for keeping flexibility in the psoas area.
The psoas is a very influential muscle and effects how the whole body operates. Posture is critical to the well-being of the body and is supported by the functioning of the psoas. Without the psoas, movements would be very limited. The psoas unifies the upper body and lower body and synchronizes all actions. There are specific activities and exercises that can be utilized to keep the psoas working properly. The importance of the psoas cannot be over-rated.
In the North Austin, TX area, contact the Ab-Sutra Wellness and Fitness team to help you get moving properly.