Part 1: The Psoas Muscle
Psoas, pronounced (so-az), are our deepest muscles. They are located on both sides of the body, fanning out from the low back, and connecting at the front of the inner thigh. The psoas connect the spine directly to the leg. They are the only muscles which connect the spine to the leg.
The psoas grows directly from the spinal cord. It functions as a sensory organ which communicates stimulus from the central nervous system to the musculature of the body.
The psoas is especially integrated with our nervous system's “fight or flight” response. When the nervous system (brain) perceives a threat, the primal “fight or flight” response is to curl into the fetal position, protecting the vital organs. The sensitive and strong psoas initiates this muscular response by shortening and thereby flexing the leg toward the spine.
Without perceived threats, the psoas should be long and juicy. It should live as a pendulum, freely swinging and animating the leg from the spine.
Since the psoas muscle aligns closely with the pelvic floor muscle group, a healthy psoas is directly linked with healthy and responsive sexual functions.
Liz Koch, author of The Psoas Book, points out that a healthy psoas plays a key role in the orgasmic response, particularly full body orgasm. She states that "It is the supple, and lengthened psoas which allows the body to freely undulate from head to toe in full body orgasm, versus a single organ response."
Part 2: Why are our hips so dang tight???
Imagine if we were wild humans again. Life would be full of intense movements on a daily basis: foraging on our hands and knees, tracking and chasing prey for long distances, walking on variable and uneven terrain, jumping, climbing. Our hips and spine are designed for, and crave, the natural instability of these movements.
Modern living has reduced or completely eliminated the survival-based need for these behaviors. In addition, we’ve added constrictive movements, like sitting at desks and driving cars.
When forced to live in a shortened position for long periods of time, as in sitting or driving, the psoas will start to behave like a ligament; becoming tight and dry, with dulled sensory abilities. After we do eventually stretch our legs to stand, the rigid psoas will tug at the low spine. This undesirable adaptation makes standing and walking uncomfortable on the back.
And don't forget that the psoas muscle interacts with our nervous system. Our primal threat response is to curl forward. This curl protects the vital organs. The psoas muscle reflexively initiates this response.
Not surprisingly, the fetal curl is another favorite of the psoas. This position is initiated from emotional threats and feelings of weakness. Sitting at a computer is an upright version of the fetal position. In a seated position, the thigh is held close to the spine, and the trunk is curled forward.
The inner thigh pulls very close to the spine as the psoas shortens.
All the same tightnesses of the fetal position...plus more
So, when we sit for long periods of time, we keep the psoas in a shortened position. Over time, the supple psoas transforms into a dry and brittle hip flexor.
This is not how the psoas was designed. The body has made a modification to accommodate civilization. Instead of a primal threat initiating the psoas to shorten, the psoas is just shortened.
A shortened psoas informs the nervous system that there is a threat...just the way the nervous system informs the psoas that there is a threat. Those with a constricted psoas will therefore over-represent a feeling of general tension. That undirected tension then translates itself into our emotions as fear or ANXIETY.
But you work out, so you should be fine, right? Maybe. Often fitness regimens are designed to burn calories and increase superficial muscle mass, not to protect the psoas. They are loaded with linear movements targeted at isolating muscles, which can contribute to hip tightness. Abdominal crunches are especially notorious for shortening the psoas.
Stretching? Although there are many benefits to stretching, unfortunately rejuvenating a dry psoas isn't one of them.
But fear not, because the body is resilient! Your psoas muscles yearn to be flexible and responsive again, and you only need to take a few minutes a day to gently encourage them. It's time you learned how to care for these very important parts of your body.
Part 3: Constructive Rest Position
Constructive. Rest. Position.
REST YOUR FLEX
This is the easiest and most effective thing you will ever do for your psoas, it's the only thing which will bring it back to it's original design.
Constructive Rest Postion
Lay on a wooden floor or yoga mat
If you have very tight hips, tie the legs together
Add some padding between the knees so that you are at a true hip width
If this position bothers your back, here's another option:
Doesn't it seem too good to be true?
Well, there is a catch: You must be relaxed, like truly relaxed in order for the psoas to rest. You can not talk to others, no texting, or reading emails…no television.
Your psoas only needs 5-20 minutes, but that’s 5-20 RELAXED minutes. If your mind is racing with 300 thoughts, you aren't relaxed and your psoas definitely isn't relaxed.
To help move your mind and your psoas into relaxation, listen to a guided meditation. Here's one I found which is adequate. There are literally thousands, so find one that works for you.
Your psoas is just like you. When you are exhausted, and I mean when you are DONE, there is no stretch, exercise or food which will replenish you for another 4 hours of work. Only rest can do that for you and only constructive rest can do that for your psoas.
Okay! Now, you’re getting the clinically proven benefits of meditation while treating hip and back pain, nourishing your sexual organs and holistically treating your anxiety. Multitasking anyone?
If you are anxious...If you have pain...If you sit or drive for more than 2 hours a day...try this absolutely FREE and totally holistic challenge:
For two weeks, everyday:
REST YOUR FLEX before lunch
REST YOUR FLEX before dinner
REST YOUR FLEX before exercise
*Added benefits if you can take a walk (without your phone) after every rest*
*Benefits through the roof if you can take a break from jerky, repetitive exercises during these two weeks and replace with Pilates or Yoga*
Now, I know that many will say: “There is no way that MY tight hips and MY anxiety can be better managed by constructive rest.”
Please understand this truth-
We humans are loyal to our dysfunctions. We blindly hold onto them tighter than we hold onto our own hip flexors! Try to quiet your opposition. A resistant mind will not allow this solution quite simply because a resistant mind will not allow relaxation at the consistency needed for the psoas to heal.
Commit. Truly commit to this project and you will feel the difference.