Quick Tip: What’s a Psoas?

Posted by on Apr 30, 2014 in Health and Wellness

We’re always getting asked what the psoas is or does. So, here it is. A breakdown of all that the psoas does for your body, from walking around the block to dancing all night long, your psoas has your back…literally.

Pso-as you may know (get it?!) the word ‘psoas’ can be a little tricky to pronounce at first glance. In fact, all the peeps here at Psoas had a good laugh at the variations we’ve heard of our favorite word. Our top favorites are, “sose,” “pee-sose,” “pesos,” and “peasauce”.

So, come visit us over here at Pesose to get some killer peasauce work!

Why the name Psoas?

psoas1Deep within the core of the body, close to the spine in the abdomen, lays a little known muscle called the psoas, pronounced “so-as.” We marvel at the mysterious nature of the psoas and chose this muscle to represent us due to its essential function in the body.

The psoas works continuously – while running or walking, sitting, and even reclining. It attaches the upper body to the lower body and is vital for ambulation (walking or moving about.) Whenever a leg is lifted, the psoas can be thanked. Janet Travell, a pioneer in Myofascial Trigger Point Treatment, called the psoas the “Hidden Prankster” due to its elusive role in many musculo-skeletal conditions from lower back pain to overly pronated feet.

Aside from the organs, the psoas is the most important muscle in the body. We might be slightly biased here at Psoas Massage + Bodywork, but we see our fair share of dysfunction, and the psoas is by far the most commonly implicated muscle.

You may not know what or where your psoas is but you use it continuously. It’s almost guaranteed that you are using it right now. The psoas is a long muscle, deep in your abdomen, that runs from your belly to your upper inner thigh and lifts your knee to your chest. It is lengthened when your leg is behind your body (like your back leg while running, walking, or in warrior pose in yoga.) It is contracted when you sit (hello, computer users and desk workers.) It stabilizes your spine when it is working properly and stresses your spine when it is angry. It is very powerful and has very far reaching affects on bodily health.

Interestingly, on a four legged animal, the psoas is not used very much and remains relaxed. The butcher knows this muscle as the filet mignon or tenderloin. But humans use the psoas so much that it gets tough and fibrous. So you wouldn’t want to eat the human version- restrain yourself!

Ailments Associated with Psoas Dysfunction

psoas2Psoas – the major core muscle is partially responsible for:

  •     Chronic low back pain
  •     Sciatica
  •     Intense menstrual cramping
  •     Hip socket tension
  •     Groin pain
  •     Chronic quadriceps strain
  •     Knee, neck, and ankle tension
  •     Bladder and digestive disturbances
  •     Structural imbalance
  •     Poor flexibility in the core
  •     Poor core strength
  •     Lumbar joint immobility
  •     Organ dysfunction

To see a few good stretches for the psoas, click here to see our stretching guide.

Psoas ailments are under-reported and under-diagnosed. Many practitioners do not know how to help an ailing psoas – fortunately for our clients, we do.