by Patti Shelton MD, RYT
Have you heard of the psoas? Many people aren’t aware of this important muscle, but if you spend all day sitting and then find that your low back aches, your psoas may be to blame.
The psoas (pronounced SO-az) is a deep muscle of the back. It begins on the sides of the lower spine (the area called the lumbar spine), runs down across the rim of the pelvis, and attaches to the inner part of the upper thigh.
This diagram shows the location of the psoas.
Its main function is to flex the hip (i.e., bend the hip so the thigh comes toward the front of the torso). When you’re sitting in a chair for long periods, the psoas is in a shortened position and may become tight. Since it’s attached to the lumbar spine, it pulls the spine toward an overarched position, which can cause the low back to ache.
Stretching the psoas may help to relieve the tightness and give your low back some relief. A great yoga pose for stretching your psoas is anjaneyasana, or low lunge.
Step forward with one leg, bend the knee, and bring the back knee to the floor. Then sink your weight forward and down until you feel a good stretch on the front side of the hip (on the side with the leg back). Resting your hands on your front knee, or on blocks on either side of your front foot, will help if you’re feeling tippy; if you’re feeling stable, you can bring your arms up. In addition to stretching your psoas, taking regular breaks from sitting during the day may help keep it from getting short and tight; aim to get up and walk around at least once an hour.
Caring for your psoas may help prevent or relieve the nagging daily low back pain experienced by many people in our modern, sitting-heavy society. With your new knowledge of the psoas, you’re empowered to take care of it!
Patti Shelton is currently teaching two weekly Yoga classes at AIM on Tuesday and Thursday Afternoons starting at 4:15. Let her help you to experience the benefits of Yoga today!