Our Practice – Psoas Love (goes along with spinal love)
I continue with my on line anatomy class, Anatomy Bites led by Libby Hinsley, PT, C-IAYT. This month we have been studying the psoas. I have learned (after taking the class and doing some additional reading), that the role of the psoas and how to treat psoas dysfunction is a topic with conflicting opinions!
What I have learned is that the psoas has its primary function not as a hip flexor (although it does help with that) but as the muscle that holds us upright when standing. It also acts as a lumbar pelvic stabilizer and hip stabilizer. It literally helps us walk through our life as the brain tells us to move the leg forward. Also, due to the nerves passing through the muscle, it acts as a receptor for the body’s fears and stress and feelings of un-safety.
If you look at a diagram of this big muscle, which is deep inside the body, you will see why it is so important.
The psoas major’s proximal (closest to the head) attachment is on the sides of the bodies of the vertebrae from T12 through L4. It continues down the sides of the spine, over the front of the pubic bone, and then attaches at the distal end, with the fibers of the iliacus, to the lesser trochanter of the femur. The psoas major crosses many joints and connects the upper half of the body to the lower half of the body.
What are some symptoms of psoas dysfunction? There are several symptoms the most common being lumbar pain or anterior hip pain. These conditions are often brought on by sustained postures, particularly sitting, and compensating for weak deep core muscles. Another cause can be elevated sympathetic tone in response to feeling stressed or unsafe.
What do we normally do when we have these symptoms is to gravitate toward stretching. We have been learning that in the case of the psoas, active rest and softening is a better approach. A passive release will put the psoas major in a short position and let it be passive and soften. Additionally, the calming, relaxing strategies can help by cultivating feelings of safety.
Constructive rest: putting legs at a right angle on bolsters, coffee table or coach and just relaxing for 5-10 minutes.
Active psoas release: locust and bridge.
For more detail, check out some of the articles highlighted below.
This is a fascinating topic and these paragraphs barely touch on the topic. I suggest additional reading, but prepared to be confused, there is information out there that can seem confusing or conflicting. Use common sense and listen to your body!
Meditation – Courage To Try New Things
Ever not want to try something new because you fear you “won’t be good at it”? Or hesitate on doing something you love but haven’t done it in a long time….
I have come to the realization that I am never going to be a pro XXX (fill in the blank)- tennis player, bike rider, paddle boarder, and no one is calling me to be on the cover of Yoga Journal. Because I love trying new things, I have never dedicated myself fully to one activity and therefore I am moderately proficient at lots of things. Guess what, I think that is ok!! This week I played tennis for the first time in almost 2 years. I had made a lot of excuses as fear had set in. Guess what, after about 30 minutes I forgot about being rusty and had fun!
As I used to tell my friend Pat years ago when we struggled with body image, dieting and exercise topics and everyone wanted to look like Kate Moss, “we need to let it go, we are never getting the call to be on Bay Watch!”
So, this week’s meditation is about taking risks, trying new things, and not worrying so much about how good we are or how good we look while doing it – just be present with the experience.
"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better" - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nurturing with Food – Healthy Blueberry Muffins
With summer around the corner, I have been thinking about fruit and what to make with summer's best! I spent this past winter experimenting with recipes and using everything in my freezer. This included the many bags of frozen blueberries (and zuchini) that I had picked last summer. During the final throes of the “what to do with many blueberries and zucchini experiments", I found this recipe. This is not wholly one of my own, it is adapted from one from www.cookieandkate.com
I think you will love these – feel free to use more berries than the recipe calls for and perhaps add other berries that you may have.
See you on the mat!