From chronic back pain to bad posture… the little known muscle that could be to blame

From chronic back pain to bad posture... the little known muscle that could be to blame

IF you’re one of the millions of people in the UK that suffers with chronic back pain, a weak core, digestive problems or bad posture – then a little know muscle could be to blame.
The psoas muscle, pronounced so-ass, connects the spine to the top of the legs.
Natasha Harding The psoas muscle connects the spine to the top of the legs – and it could be to blame for your back ache
It allows us to bend our legs towards our chest, assists in moving the leg forward when we walk or run and enables us to bend over.
Sitting too long and make it tight, but activities like running, walking, cycling and even standing for too long can also make it strained.
But as it’s also connected to your fight or flight response – so the muscle will contract due to emotional or physical stresses.
So whether you’ve had a car accident, a bad fall or suffered a bereavement your psoas will tighten.
When you don’t release your psoas, it remains contracted and the end result is pain in your back.
If it becomes too tight it can pull the pelvis forwards creating increased strain on the lower back and discs, causing pain, inflammation, stiffness and immobilitySuzanne Riley Osteopath
However, some experts believe that all pain in the body can be tracked back to a contracted psoas.
Osteopathy Suzanne Riley explains: “As a powerful hip flexor and deep core muscle, the psoas is integral to our lower back health.
“If it becomes too tight it can pull the pelvis forwards creating increased strain on the lower back and discs, causing pain, inflammation, stiffness and immobility.
“The main cause of this shortening is prolonged periods of sitting. Stress is another big factor.
“Yoga is one of the best exercises for the psoas muscle, because not only does it improve body awareness, alignment and flexibility – it gives you the opportunity to both stretch and release the muscle.”
Kent-based Yoga teacher Natasha Harding reveals the simple way to release it…
How to release a tight psoas
Equipment needed: A chair, a slim yoga block or folded blanket
Place your chair in front of you and lie on your back. Inhale, exhale and swing your legs up so they’re resting on the chair.
If you’re tall and your, then turn the chair so that your legs aren’t cramped.
Rest your head on your support.
Lie like this for at least five minutes – it takes that time for the psoas to release.
Focus on breathing in and out through your nose and become conscious of your chest and abdomen rising on inhalation. Don’t force the breath to be slow, just allow it to find it’s own pace and rhythm.
Once you’re ready to come up, do so slowly. Bring your knees to your chest and pause for a few moments, then roll to your side and pause again.
Then when you’re ready use your hands to push yourself into a seated position.
That’s it. Simple.
She also suggests a couple of different yoga poses to try if you really want to stretch it out.
Natasha Harding Natasha demonstrates how to release a tight psoas muscle using a chair
Eye of the Needle
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Your head is flat on the floor with your chin tucked towards your chest.
If you’re tight in your shoulders or neck this may be uncomfortable, so support your head with a yoga block or folded blanket.
Inhale, exhale, place your right ankle bone over your left thigh.
Draw your left leg towards you and breathe.
Hold for three breaths, before exhaling and swapping sides.
Here, Natasha shows how you do the yoga pose Eye of the Needle
Stand with your feet hip width apart and facing forwards.
Inhale, and as you exhale, step your right foot forwards and at the same time, lift your left heel from the floor.
Bend your right knee, making sure that your knee is over your ankle.
When you’re ready, inhale and lift your arms over your head and clasp the hands together in a fist position and straighten your index finger.
Breathe, hold and look up if you feel stable.
Although stretching is important, the vital thing is to release your muscle regularly by adopting a constructive resting pose.
Luckily the releasing part is very easy – and incredibly relaxing.
Natasha demonstrates how to do the yoga pose ‘Reverse Warrior’
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Natasha said: “It’s my go-to position whenever my back aches and keeps me pretty much pain free.
“Over the years I’ve recommended it to so many people.
“I’d suggest doing it daily if you’ve got a big back issue and a couple of times a week for minor niggles.”

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