Introducing Myself and You To The Sauce (Psoas)

My first introduction to the Psoas was by Sofia Vergara, when I watched this video of her playing “5 Second Rule” with Ellen DeGeneres.

Here is the clip, though she doesn’t introduce us to the Psoas until 5:14

To any person who was unfamiliar with the Psoas prior to watching that video, she definitely said “sauce” right?!  What a strange muscle to mention.

Now I know of its’ importance, I understand why she mentioned it and I question why it isn’t more commonly known.

However,  after looking into it, it seems to be something that people write books about.  I was just one of those common people who was oblivious to the mighty Psoas or Sauce if you are Sofia Vergara!

So last night I went to my first i.flo class with Baris Yazar and died.  I’m not talking about dying like Taylor Swift fans who claim to be “deaded” when they see her either.

I’m talking about, not-being-able-to-do-a-push-up-or-a-sit-up-to-save-my-life-and-so-I-died kind of dead.

You would think having done yoga, I’d be able to do a push up right?  Well, no.  Unfortunately, Bikram yoga offers no familiarity nor acquaintance with Mr Chaturanga and my big shoulders have proven that they are simply ornamental.

Add to that my 9 weeks off of any form of exercise and me only just easing my way back into exercising 3 times a week this week and you’ll get an idea of how much I died.

Having said that, i.flo was fun and it pointed out certain malfunctioning muscles of mine.  Namely, my second and most important introduction to the sauce.  Psoas.  Sauce.  “What did I say wrong?!”

i.flo highlighted my psoas’ existence because it appeared to be non-existent.

So let me tell you what I know about Mr Sauce so far.

The Psoas / Iliopsoas muscle is important to human movement.  It’s the muscle that helps you run, jump and walk by flexing your hip.  It connects the inside to the outside and the back to the front.  It connects your spine to your legs!

iliopsoasThat’s a picture I googled for illustrative purposes.

From the picture above, you can see the Psoas major connects to the Lumbar Spine (lower back) and then comes forward to the front of the body.  There is also another muscle called the Illiacus muscle which is attached to the illium (pelvic bone) and also comes to the front.

120px-iliacus_muscle_-_animation05

The Illiacus muscle is shown in the GIF above, in red.

Both the Psoas major and the Illiacus muscles combine at the front and are called the Iliopsoas.  They (Iliopsoas) share the same ligament which connects to the inner pelvis.

As mentioned, the Psoas connects your spine to your legs.  If it works, you should be able to do an L-sit.  Contract the Psoas and your legs will lift up towards your spine.  Mine did no such thing.  “My sauce is weak!”

Yes, the L-sit also requires arm, ab and leg strength but the only thing that’s going to get your legs higher, will be a mightily contracted psoas muscle.  It is the secret psoas!  (Did you see what I did there?  Ha!  I’m slapping my thigh and giving myself a high five right now!)

Next, Baris said, “Lay down on your back with your legs straight and your lower back flat on the floor.  No banana backs.”  He then gave a demonstration.

I’m a stickler for following instructions but no matter what I did and how much I tried to round my back, I had a little bridge – a banana back.  There was ALWAYS a gap between the floor and my lower back while my legs were straight.  The only way I could eliminate that gap and have my back flat on the floor was to bend my knees.

psoasanteriortilt See that picture?  I got that from SequenceWiz about Stretching the Psoas and it’s a good read so head on over there for more info.

That diagram totally explains the back curvature I have and why I couldn’t get my lower back flat on the floor.  Low and behold, the Psoas is involved again!

According to this picture, the psoas has been overstretched, constantly being pulled forward and downward, due to the pelvic tilt, taking the spine with it.

The result is a curved spine, duck bum and an overstretched psoas.   Overstretched muscles fatigue easily.  It’s hard for them to contract back to normal (let alone tightly) when they’ve gone too far one way.  “So that‘s why my sauce is weak!”

So here’s some more info about the sauce.  The Psoas regulates spinal and pelvic alignment but it isn’t strong enough to do it on its own.

When the surrounding muscles such as the abdominals, glutes, spine and quads are tight or weak, the pelvic bone will tilt one way or another and the Psoas will get pulled or contract depending on the angle of the pelvis and spine.

It will, attempt to regulate but there’s only so much it can do, poor psoas, with so many things pulling it up, down, front and back.  Eventually, it all becomes too much and it can’t do its’ job, one of the stronger / tighter outer muscles will win and imbalances form in the lower body.

psoasbackpullSo my understanding now is that a happy psoas takes a lot of work.  It seems it will only be happy when all the surrounding muscles are also co-operating instead of pulling against each other.

Happy and balanced outer muscles will make for a happy and effectively functioning psoas.  Once it’s functioning happily, then it can be strengthened.

More research will have to be done on my part to figure out which muscles I need to strengthen, stretch and how but there you are.

Now that I’ve introduced you, I leave you to get to know your own psoas better.  It’s worth getting to know because knowing and understanding your psoas will actually help you work out how to re-balance your entire lower body!

Voila!  You are very welcome.

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