PSOAS, THE MUSCLE OF THE SOUL
PSOAS, THE MUSCLE OF THE SOUL! Before you debunk all of this as airy fairy Mumbo jumbo, here me out and read on!!
In my last blog titled "do you suffer hip pain whilst training" i spoke briefly about the hips and some exercises you can incorporate to manage soreness and maintain flexibility and mobility.
Today we will talk more about a specific muscle. The Psoas.
First a diagram because people learn and retain information different ways and visual cues is one of them.
Without going to far into the anatomical information for this muscle. It's the only muscle that attaches the lumber spine to the hip. It's action is to bring the knee to the chest or to curl into the foetal position.
Which leads me onto why it's so important to stretch this muscle.
PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM: it's a part of the involuntary nervous system (without thought) that controls the slowing of the heart rate and 'controls' digestion and rest. So it's pretty much the state we would be in whilst sitting at our desk.
SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM: This is the fight or flight part of the involuntary nervous system. This is activated if you are scared (if someone jumps around the corner and says boo or a car pulls out in front of you suddenly) it goes back to our ancestral caveman days where we where hunter and gatherers and had to fight off lions!
So another explanation: when faced with an external danger - our body is flushed with the hormones cortisol and adrenalin, our vision narrows (tunnel vision) time seems to speed up or slow down and we can experience auditory exclusion (we lose our sense of peripheral vision). Some people will stand and fight or run into the fray, (firefighters, soldiers, emergency service personnel) because they have done countless hours of drills where they have trained and recognised when this system activates and have many processes and drills in place to fight through the basic instinct. Others will try to run or curl up into the foetal position to protect the vital areas and organs of the body. The muscle that does this is the Psoas.
Hopefully we are starting to see a correlation here...the Psoas muscle can be involuntarily activated and those hormones can be released (without us even knowing) just by sitting down for long periods of time.
Do not worry though as I'm going to go through some easy stretches, both static and dynamic that you can do. to see the best results please do these everyday! That will get the autonomic nervous systems and the body as a whole working and functioning as it's meant to be.
3-Way Leg Swings (Dynamic Stretching)
Instruction: Keep the pelvis parallel to the floor. Stand on a pad or block that is 1 to 2 inches in height. Standing on one leg, swing your opposite leg forward and back for 5 repetitions each way for a total of 10 repetitions. Then, swing your leg sideways for 5 repetitions each way for a total of 10 repetitions. Lastly, swing your leg at a 45-degree angle for 5 repetitions each way for a total of 10 repetitions. When finished, switch to the other leg and repeat
Quad Stretch & Reach Overhead With Your Opposite Arm (Static Stretching)
Instruction: With the same side hand, grab the top of your foot and pull your heel towards your seat until you feel a light stretch in front of your thigh. To intensify the stretch, bring the knee back a bit and keep the abdominal area tight. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and then perform the stretch on the opposite leg. Do this stretch twice on each leg. You can progress the stretch by bringing the opposite arm overhead. If this is difficult for you to do, you can place your opposite arm on the wall for balance.
90 90 Kneeling Stretch with Arm Overhead (Static Stretching)
Instruction: Start in a 90 90 kneeling position. Keep your hips, knee and ankle in a 90 degrees position. Flatten out the back foot on the ground to intensify the stretch. Tighten up the abdominal area and bring your arm overhead. Contract your glutes and bring the hips forward, look for a light stretch in front of your thigh (rectus femoris) and pelvis area (iliacus muscle). Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and then perform the stretch on the opposite leg. Do this stretch twice on each leg.
On Back, Knees In and Out (Dynamic Stretching)
Instruction: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Drop the knees from side to side. To intensify the stretch, you can separate the feet a bit further and do the side-to-side knee drops. Hold each drop for 2 seconds with 5 repetitions on each side.
These are a few of my favorite stretches. There are many more and you can locate them on them on varis websites.
Remember to conduct these stretches daily as they will help. You may be somewhat restricted the first couple of times you attempt the stretches, they will feel more comfortable after time.
If you have any questions or would like more advice, please feel free to send me a message on here.