The psoas major is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting muscles of the body. As part of the Iliopsoas – made up of the psoas major and the iliacus – psoas major is an important hip flexor and low back stabilizer.
The psoas major is a long, slender muscle that originates on the bodies and transverse processes of the lumbar vertebrae. Stretching from these attachment sites, it passes underneath the inguinal ligament, to its insertion on the lesser trochanter of the femur bone.
In our modern society, where we sit much of the time, the hips are in a constant state of flexion. Additionally, most of our other daily life activities (i.e. walking, running, bicycling, hiking, swimming, climbing stairs) involve movement only on the sagittal plane. Because of the adaptive shortening created by long periods of time in hip flexion while seated and also the focus on sagittal plane movement, the psoas major can become either tight or weak or a lethal combination of both. This instability can be the source of stiffness and pain in the hips as well as the lower back.
The good news is that we can do something to resolve this chronic state of muscle tightness and/or weakness of the psoas major by practicing static Yoga Tune Up® poses such as the Pelvic Primer and Leg Stretch Series and also the dynamic YTU poses, Monk Walks and Walk the Plank Minivini. It would also be an excellent idea to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the inner and outer thighs that are often ignored in our sagittal plane dominant habits. Practicing poses such as Adductor Slides, Abductor Lifts and Prasarita Lunges along with the poses listed above will bring more overall strength and stability to the lower back, pelvic floor, hips and thighs.