PSOAS Muscle & Low Back Pain

PSOAS Muscle & Low Back Pain

PSOAS (pronounced as: so-as)muscle is the deepest muscle of the human body, and affects our structural balance, flexibility, strength, range of motion, joint mobility and muscular integrity and yet this important muscle is very often overlooked.

In discussing psoas muscle, we refer to a combination of two muscles, namely Psoas Major and Iliacus. Psoas major is deep to the abdominal contents and originates in the bodies and transverse processes of the lumbar vertebrae, while the iliacus is deep to the abdomen in the iliac fossa and originates on the inside of the pelvic bowl.   Both muscles combine to form one tendon and attaches to the greater trochanter of the femur.  The iliacus and psoas major combined are known as “iliopsoas” and the primary function is to flex, laterally rotate and adducts the hip.

Psoas muscles are also responsible for stabilizing the spine and to provide support through the trunk.  But what happens when the psoas is out of balance and shortens?  This could be due to stress, tension, poor postural habits, sitting for long periods at one time.  Tight and shortened psoas may torque, rotate and twist the spinal vertebrae, leading to low back discomfort and dysfunction and a host of painful back conditions including low back pain, sacroiliac pain, sciatica, intervertebral disc problems, spondylolysis and scoliosis.

The following Yoga asana can help to strengthen and lengthen the psoas, gently encourage the release of muscle holding patterns, improve low back alignment and create a balance posture.

Asanas that helps to strengthens the Psoas through contraction:

  1. Supta Padangusthasana :  Pulls the femur and spine closer together via hip flexion.
  2. Navasana : Strengthens the psoas isometrically and also strengthens the abdominal muscles, back muscles and quadriceps.

After strengthening of Psoas through contraction, release the Psoas through stretching and lengthening by extending the hip, moving the lumbar spine and femur away from each other and these are the recommended asanas :

  1. Anjaneyasana (lunge pose)
  2. Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I), where the hip of the back leg is in extension
  3. Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)
  4. Supta Virasana
  5. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

     “The thing that’s hurting today will only hurt worse tomorrow if you don’t change something”