Sometimes referred to as the “mighty” psoas, the core of the body, the thickest muscle in the body, this wonderful and unique muscle gets a lot of attention. Many people come into a massage knowing their psoas is tight and not being exactly sure of where it is or what it does. The psoas is a very deep muscle, one of the closest muscles to the spine that sits on either side of our center of gravity. There are two, one on either side. The muscles reach from the lumbar (low back) spine to the body protrusion on the inner femur (thigh bone).
This muscle is unique in that it is the only muscle that connects the upper body to the lower body. It is a strong hip flexor and allows us to do many amazing things with our bodies such as walk, run, sit, lift our leg, reach to the ground.
The psoas muscle is a strong hip flexor and becomes tight when we sit throughout the day, drive, run, do squats etc. When this muscle is over contracted through repetitive movement, bad postural habits, overuse or injury , low back pain, imbalanced hips, hip pain, misaligned knees, knee pain, pelvic tilt, referred pain down the front of the thigh and to spine and many other postural deviations and pain patterns can occur.
When only one is over contracted the spine can become distorted and be pulled out of alignment. This can cause pain and physical dysfunction and create problems within the discs of the spine itself.
When a muscle becomes over contracted in the body its opposing muscle groups must lengthen and often become pulled long and cause pain. This is the case in low back pain caused by the psoas muscles being tight. When the muscle is tight it becomes weak. When a muscle is causing pain one of the best things we can do is to become aware of it, to focus on it, feel it, notice what it does, how it feels, stretch it, strengthen it.
Emotionally this muscle is said to hold on to deep-seated fears and trauma. An educated massage therapist can assist you in addressing the psoas, helping to stretch it and facilitate healing so the postural misalignments and pain caused from this muscle being tight can disappear.