By Rocco Ferraiolo PTA, NASM-CPT,PES, USA L1SPC
Our body is a complex system made up of bones, muscles, nerves and other soft tissue structures that work together to provide us with virtually seamless movements and support. When one of these structures is limited or affected at some point, this could affect all the others; If not immediately, at some point in the near future. Example:
Your Psoas Major, one of two “hip flexors” in our body (Iliacus being the other and together can be called the Iliopsoas), is one of those muscles that goes over looked but can lead to multiple issues if not kept conditioned.
A quick little anatomy and physiology lesson; the psoas major is a deep hip muscle that connects the lumbar spine to the upper part of the femur. The lower half of the psoas is joined together with the iliacus muscle—which is why the two muscle groups are often referred to as the iliopsoas. A major network of nerves, which connect the lower spinal cord to the deep abdominal, oblique, hip and quad muscles, travels directly through the psoas in most individuals. The psoas is generally considered a hip flexor muscle—it shortens the distance between the thighs and torso. Hip flexion occurs when you drive your knees up when running.
When the Psoas is tight or lacking flexibility or maybe weak, this could lead to lower back pain, poor posture, increased curvature of the lumbar spine and of course poor overall performance whether it be in everyday life or athletics.
So when going through your stretching and strengthening programs, be sure to include the “hip flexors” and if you sit at a desk or in a car the majority of your work week, get up and walk around to keep your hip flexors stretched.
- Kirchmair, L., et al. (2008) “Lumbar plexus and psoas major muscle: not always as expected.” Regional Anesthia and Pain Medicine. Mar-Apr;33(2):109-14.
- Sutherland W., (1990). Teachings in the Science of Osteopathy. Portland, Oregon: Rudra Press, 279-281.
- Michele A., (1962). Iliopsoas. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas.
- Tufo, A., et al. (2012). “Psoas Syndrome: A Frequently Missed Diagnosis.” The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.