You may have never heard of it, but your psoas muscle plays an essential role in determining the health of your spine.
Read on to learn more about the important functions of this muscle, as well as how to keep your psoas healthy and happy.
What is the psoas muscle?
In your body, there are 3 significant muscles that connect your spine to your legs. These include the gluteus maximus, piriformis, and psoas muscles.
The psoas muscle attaches to the vertebrae on your lumbar spine, and then crosses the outer edge of each pubis (near your pelvis). It next joins with the iliacus muscle at your inguinal ligament (in your groin region), and finally attaches at your femur. Your iliacus and psoas muscles are together known as the iliopsoas.
The role of your psoas muscle
You are able to stand and walk upright in part because the curve of your lower spine both bears and transfers the weight above it. The psoas muscle helps to create this curve, as it pulls your lumbar vertebrae both forward and down.
The psoas muscle also plays another essential role in helping you walk. When you are walking, your brain triggers your psoas muscle to move your back leg forward—initiating the alternation between the front and back leg. So each successful step you take is thanks in part to your psoas muscle.
An easy stretch for your psoas muscle
When you sit for extended periods of time, your psoas muscle may become tight. This, in turn, can pull your pelvis forward—which places pressure on your lumbar spinal discs. This additional pressure often results in lower back pain.
To help prevent—or treat—tightness in your psoas muscle, here is a simple stretch you can perform at home or the office:
- Find an area that is carpeted. If carpet is not available, you can place a cloth or towel on the ground beneath you.
- Drop your left knee down beneath you, with your left leg extending away from your body and your toes touching the ground.
- Place your right leg in front of you (with your foot flat on the ground), so that your right leg forms about a 90-degree angle.
- Using strength from your buttock, gently drive your left knee backward and down.
- While doing this, maintain good posture with your shoulders tall and head upright.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the opposite leg.
The above stretch can be performed 2 to 3 times per day, and it is helpful to place yourself in front of a mirror to check for good posture.
If you suspect your psoas muscle is the cause of your lower back pain, schedule an appointment with your doctor. She or he can provide a proper diagnosis, which will help you avoid treatments that may make your pain worse.