The All-Important Psoas (so-az)
As a yoga teacher, I was taught to stretch people, but it wasn’t long before I realized some people aren’t served by stretching.
And this is because of the psoas major, the body’s most important muscle that you have probably never heard of... and is both the main engine of movement and the main recipient/warehouse for trauma.
Understanding the psoas requires 3 critical insights:
There is a space for stretching but knowing the time and place can be complicated when chronic pain is in the picture.
Doing less to achieve more is possible with the psoas muscle. When it comes to pain and trauma, ease is everything.
The human nervous system runs the show of our life. When it goes wrong the psoas is always involved in both hurting and healing.
Below are the most important articles I've published, to help you find the right solutions, develop optimal habits and get out of pain without Advil, cortisone, or surgery.
Psoas Release Party for Chronic Pain and Discomfort
Finding freedom from long terms pain in injury is within reach.
And you won't have to work hard to find it. Doing these passive exercises will help you start feeling better immediately.
The Psoas Release Party! will get you back to the active lifestyle you thought was gone forever.
The Psoas is the Muscle of Pain & Trauma
The psoas muscle is the body’s most important muscle. More important than the heart you ask? Why yes, I believe so.
More important than the tongue you query next? And again I would answer in the affirmative.
To be clear, those are pretty important muscles but the psoas. Oh the psoas.
There are three reasons the psoas is the body’s most important muscle:
- Pain & Trauma
1 — No successful step happens without being facilitated by the psoas. And conversely inefficient walking fails to make use of the psoas with debilitating results.
2 — The psoas major is one of only three muscles that connect the legs to the spine and together they (psoas, piriformis & gluteus maximus) go along way towards holding the spine and torso evenly on top of the legs and pelvis.
3 — The psoas is the muscles of pain and trauma involved in almost every accident and injury..
Let’s focus on #3
There are two divisions in the nervous system that we call the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.
The sympathetic nervous system is all about excitation and preparing us for action, associated with our flight or fight response.
The parasympathetic nervous system is all about relaxation and together they constantly alternate, working to maintain the balance known as homeostasis.
An imbalance in these two systems can occur when one system becomes overloaded for any of many reasons.
Imagine someone who lives in a war zone where fear is ever present and they never know where the next explosion is going to come from.
Someone in that situation is always in fear — walking on egg shells — waiting for the next assault on their nervous system.
That fear is expressed physically through flexion and the psoas muscle is the body’s main hip flexor.
A flexor brings body parts closer together.
If the psoas is the body’s main hip flexor, and we naturally flex in times of stress and distress, doing that too much will lead to dysfunction.
STUCK IN THE SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM
Think of the body’s nervous system as a circuit breaker with positive and negative energies flowing in and out at all times. As long as there is a balance between the flow of these two energies we are all good.
But some people are more sensitive than others.
While sensitivity has its blessings it also makes us more vulnerable to powerful stimuli.
Imagine the circuit is overloaded with negative energy and the breaker switches off. As a result the system can no longer function optimally.
The psoas is the circuit breaker and too much information shuts it off.
This is what it means to be stuck in the sympathetic nervous system.
Many different things can cause that switch to flip. Blunt force trauma such a car accidents is an easy way to overload the system.
Imagine the amount of information that enters the brain and body in an accident. Is is no shock to think that in that moment there is simply too much information to process.
That unprocessed information heads to the psoas to hang out until we are ready to let it go.
Alternately, when we live in unrelenting fear, whether it be in response to a bad boss, spouse, partner, an overbearing parent, or the aforementioned war zone — the body stores the energy that it can’t deal with, in the psoas.
Then it waits patiently for a time, that may never come, where the body can let go some of this long held tension that has led to chronic tension, pain and trauma.
If there's one muscle of the body everyone should study, it's the psoas major. Jonathan FitzGordon's Psoas Release Party concisely explains essential information on the psoas in plain English. It's a pleasure to watch and easy to comprehend even if you know nothing about anatomy.
I've attended Fitzgordon's Psoas Release Party in person years ago and my regular yoga practice (and street practice) underwent substantial change. It's heartening to see that so much of the spirit and content of the live event have been incorporated into the videos. No more reliance on my hastily scrawled notes.
I recommend Jonathan FitzGordon's Psoas Release Party to most of my patients at some point in their care. Now to learn from the video at home where they can really let the poses sink in is priceless. The information is invaluable and the feedback from my patients is excellent. They love it and I can see the results.