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Psoas Muscle

The psoas muscle is located in the lower lumbar region of the spine and extends through the pelvis to the femur. This muscle works by flexing the hip joint and lifting the upper leg towards the body. A common example of the movement created from this muscle is walking, going up and down stairs, and even sitting down. Essentially, any activities that require flexion of the hip use the psoas.

The psoas is a very important muscle in the body. It is the primary muscle connection between the spine and the legs and often overlooked during stretching routines because it exists mainly within our abdomen.

On the right and left side of the body the psoas muscles attach to the front sides of each vertebrae bones in the low back. At the top end these muscles attach to the lowest rib and connect into the diaphragm at that spot. At the lower end the muscles cross through the pelvis and connect near the tops of the femurs (leg bones). They are the only muscles that attach to the spine at one end and the leg on the other; other muscles attach between the spine and pelvis or between the pelvis and the leg.

One reason it is important to maintain the length of the psoas is that most of the large nerves that come out of our low back spine run through this muscle. These are the nerves that connect to our internal organs, pelvic organs, and many of the major nerves to our legs. Tension can cause compression on these nerves as they travel through the Psoas. Because of this, a tight psoas can cause seemingly unrelated symptoms including: back pain, leg pain, hip pain, bladder pain, pelvic pain, and digestive issues. It can also contribute to PMS symptoms.

Keeping the psoas long and flexible is very important.

Some Stretches for Psoas

Standing Stance Pelvic Tilt

1. Stand up straight, shoulders back and down.

2. Push your pelvis back and under.

3. Hold this pose for 10 to 20 seconds.

4. Release.

Ground Bridge with Pelvic Tilt

1. Lay down on your back with your knees up and arms on the ground.

2. Lift your hips up; tuck your buttocks under.

3. Hold this pose for 5 to 10 seconds.

4. Lower your pelvis back to the ground.

5. Repeat

Warrior II

1. Turn one foot out 90 degrees and bend that knee into a lunge.

2. Slightly turn back foot inward so it’s at a 45-degree angle.

3. Raise your arms parallel to the floor with palms facing down and relax shoulders away from ears.

4. With each exhale; try to sink hips lower until front thigh is parallel to the floor.

5. Turn your head toward your lunging side and look over your fingertips.

6. Draw belly in and keep torso up straight — do not lean toward your front leg.

Crescent Moon

1. Place your right foot forward with your left knee on the ground, and inhale.

2. Push your left hip forward while trying to tuck your pelvis, while exhaling.

3. Inhale while stretching your left arm into the air overhead, leaning slightly to your right.

Breathe deeply and repeat with the other leg.

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