Those with low back pain who go to the internet to research possible causes of their pain often land on a page touting the psoas as the cause. The muscle has been blamed for back pain, bowel issues, and even emotional trauma. Meat eaters might know that the psoas is the prized filet mignon. It’s a ‘celebrity’ muscle and it’s blamed for just about every pain condition…hip and back pain especially.
Why is this muscle considered to be so important? It’s the only muscle that connects the spine to the lower half of the body. It is a deep muscle that helps to stabilize the spine, flex the knee/thigh toward the chest, swing your leg through when walking, and helps bend your trunk forward. The psoas has attachments into the diaphragm and can impact your breathing. A reflexive muscle that tightens when we are under stress to pull us into the ‘fetal’ position as a protective mechanism. This muscle has a lot of different functions. In alternative health communities some call it the ‘muscle of the soul.’ As you can see it’s an important muscle…
…but is it really that important?
Yes and no.
It’s one (technically two) of over 600 muscles in the body that work together to move your body through space. Now, if there is an issue with your psoas it will have an effect on the rest of your body, but that is the same for any muscle. Squeeze your fist real tight and you will feel your shoulder tighten…clench your jaw tight and feel the muscles around your neck contract. You might not believe me, but if you scrunch your forehead muscles it will have a subtle effect all the way down to your feet.
So what does this mean? What if the psoas tension is a symptom and there is another cause for it to feel tight? Maybe the psoas is tight for a reason? There is a Why behind the tension and it is NOT the REAL issue behind your back pain.
Most people don’t ask WHY and so they do what anyone would do with a tight feeling muscle…
And seriously, due to our modern culture everyone has a shortened psoas muscle.
But that does not mean the multitude of videos saying that you need to ‘Unlock Your Psoas’ by stretching are correct…and that’s what most of these videos show…simple stretches for the hip flexors.
Based on my experience I often find people’s psoas muscles to be WEAK. These muscles need to be strengthened. Stretching them will make them worse.
How may times have I heard about someone stretching their psoas to reduce their pain and their back gets worse. If the psoas needs strengthening, but is stretched then it gets weaker.
This is why I always recommend seeking a professional to evaluate and determine what is really the cause of your pain.
Don’t guess…it might result in you ‘losing your soul.’
Take out the guesswork and Find The Cause Of Your Pain!!
I'm just a guy helping active adults and athletes frustrated by nagging aches and pains naturally return to a healthy lifestyle.