Location of the psoas
The psoas muscle is buried deep in the front core of our body. It’s traditionally been considered a hip flexor muscle due to it’s powerful ability to flex the leg towards the trunk. However, many of it’s attachments are anchored to the vertebrae and vertebral discs, so now more anatomists and movement specialists are considering its role in spinal stabilization and health.
Though it attaches to the spine near the back of the body, the psoas is classed as an anterior muscle. Some anatomists even refer to it as the deepest abdominal muscle due to it’s ability to flex the spine as well as the hip.
We have two psoas muscles, collectively known as the psoae or psoai. They run parallel to each other, originating at the spine and then fanning down through the back of the pelvis to insert themselves at the inner upper thigh bones (lessor trochanters).
The uppermost attachments of the psoae begin at the 12th thoracic vertebrae, located at the base of the back ribs. They also attach on to the lumbar vertebrae and discs as shown in the diagram, right.
As the psoae travel through the pelvis, they join forces with their synergist muscles, the iliacus, which aid them in hip flexion. The psoas and iliacus then blend into sharing a common tendon that attaches onto the inner thigh bones, thus enabling their main joint action of hip flexion.
The psoas and iliacus together are referred to as the iliopsoas. They form the strongest of the hip flexor muscles. A third muscle, the psoas minor, thought to be an evolutionary leftover from our time as quadrupeds, is also present in about 40% of people.
Constructive rest pose
Constructive rest pose (CRP) is an ideal resting position for the psoas muscles, allowing them to fully release and let go of built up tension that’s acquired from their being in constant use in nearly all of our daily activities. Practice it for up to 15 to 20 minutes to fully receive its psoas soothing benefits.
- Place a thick mat or blanket on the floor for padding and wear warm clothing if needed so you can rest for a while in comfort
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip width apart, 12″ to 18″ away from your body, balancing the weight evenly in the front and back of the feet
- Completely relax your thighs and abdomen
- CRP should feel effortless and free from tension; if the feet are too close to the buttocks the legs will grip – experiment with the foot distance from your body until it works for you
- If your knees want to fall apart, strap a belt around the legs, keeping them hip width apart
- You can practice softly belly breathing for a while: inhale to gently expand the abdomen and exhale to release it into the floor
- Do not try to flatten your back into the floor, though it may release naturally as you rest
- If you feel any discomfort, simply roll to your side to come out
- Other alternatives to try could be to place a bolster or rolled blanket under your knees, or rest the shins on a chair seat
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