February 11, 2019Cycling
Tight Hips? It Might be Your Psoas
“My physical therapist said my psoas is too tight. Or was that too short? Or maybe it was too weak…” I hear this from clients all the time. In the brilliant words of my friend Liz Koch, author of The Psoas Book and the soon-to-be-released Chasing Wild Psoas, “Your psoas isn’t weak, it’s exhausted.” This tree-trunk-like muscle runs along both sides of your spine, from your lower thoracic spine all the way through your pelvis and attaching on the inside of your upper thigh bone, at a spot called the lesser trochanter. The strongest of the hip flexor muscles, psoas is critical in balance, alignment, pelvic and hip stability, and your overall ability to move. It also influences your circulatory system, respiratory system, and the function of your organs. With every step you take, there’s an inherent communication going on between your psoas, your internal organs, and your sensory system. Psoas is a crucial part of your body’s rooting mechanism, and it gets exhausted not only because it’s so vital to all of your movements, but also from stress, anxiety, and psychologically traumatic events. It’s involved in the fight, flight, or freeze reflex, and for many people, this reflex is on high alert even when no danger is present.
How it worksYou know when someone scares you and you take a huge gulp of air, your shoulders shrug, and your body jumps back? The psoas (and its inherent connection to the fascial network from your feet up to your head) is part of the system that propels you toward or away from danger or curls you up into a fetal pose. As vital as this reflex is, you need it to turn off when danger is no longer present, but a lot of people are in constant reaction mode, reliving the past as if it were occurring in the present. Whether your psoas is exhausted from repetitive movements like running, cycling, or sitting, or from psychological stress or trauma, a great way to de-stress the psoas and help it regain its supple, supportive qualities is to act upon what I call your NeuroCore – the rooted and reflexive mechanisms that support, protect, and stabilize the entire body.
How to destress your psoasThree of my favorite ways to tap into the NeuroCore are the Rebalance Sequence, the Mini Foot Treatment, and the Low Back Release Sequence. Each technique connects to psoas in a different way: The Rebalance Sequence directly stimulates the NeuroCore and lowers the stress response, the Foot Treatment enhances ground reaction force, which helps you feel more grounded and balanced, and the Low Back Release Sequence accesses psoas through a subtle movement called the Pelvic Tuck and Tilt Challenge. In this MELT On Demand video, the Full Body Express Map, I use all three sequences and add two moves – the Core Challenge and Drawbridge – to help you release unnecessary tension and restore sensorimotor control to this intrinsic system of stability. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a sedentary adult, you can help your psoas (and your entire nervous system) find greater ease, power, and stability through MELT’s simple self-care techniques.