So the other day someone on Instagram mentioned having a tight psoas, so I offered to make a post about a release you can do for that. It did really well on Instagram, so I thought I’d turn this into a blog post so I can help more people.
So, if you’ve never heard of the psoas before, we’ll start with that. It’s this muscle right here:
So as you can see, the muscle basically goes from the front of your body where your upper leg bone is, around your groin area, wraps up your stomach, and connects to your spine on your back. It’s a part of your core, it helps hold you upright, and stabilizes you as well. So it’s a pretty important muscle.
Honestly? Sometimes a tight psoas can be the culprit with an achy back (but not always – like anything this depends on the specific person in question).
So, what can you do to release this muscle a bit? Especially since you’re probably sitting a lot more these days? My first suggestion is to get up from your desk every once and a while and swing your leg back and forth. Sounds silly I know, but it’s an easy thing you can do right now without too much effort that will make a difference. It will look like this:
You can stand on a yoga block if you have one, or realistically stand on a stair step or a book if that’s all you have. The idea is just that one leg is higher than the floor so you can swing the free one easily. Again, look at where this muscle is in your body – makes sense that swinging the leg would affect it, right? Maybe try holding on to something so you’re a little more stable than I was in this video 😂
Another easy thing you can do is this psoas release. (FYI: this is the post that prompted this email):
It’s easiest to do this with a yoga block but if you don’t have one that’s ok. You can stack a few books, but be careful cause they can slide off of each other easily. You could also take a few blankets or towels and fold them and stack those and stick them under your sacrum (your sacrum is basically that place where your spine and pelvis meet – right above your butt crack).
Here’s another tip: Anjaneyasana, or crescent moon lunge, is often done to try to stretch the psoas by leaning your hips all the way forwards, but this is actually not the most effective with to do this stretch to target the psoas. Instead, back your hips up a bit so that they stack over that back knee. Take your tailbone in so you feel your butt start to squeeze and engage. And then side bend towards the side that has the leg forwards. You’ll feel this directly where that image at the beginning says your psoas is. Here’s a visual if you need it:
And then finally, the last suggestion I have can be pretty intense and requires a prop. I recommend yoga tune up balls for this – they’re softer than a lacrosse ball but harder than a tennis ball. If you don’t have any, then I would go with the tennis ball, and not the lacrosse ball because you don’t want to beat yourself up too much. I suppose you can use your hands, but it’s easier if you have something else doing this.
Basically you’re going to do a deep release of the muscle like a foam roller would do for your legs. If your psoas is really tight, this might suck. Just sayin’. Don’t do this too long because again, you don’t want to hurt yourself doing it (you could feasibly bruise the muscle), so just really listen to your body on this one and if anything is sharp or if there are any other pain signifiers then back away. Also, if it’s that bad I would go see a physical therapist who has a background in physical manipulation stuff (if you’re in the NYC area and you need a PT to help you out with this let me know cause mine does this. It is a brutal release but it helps).
So you’ll take the yoga tune up ball basically at the base of the psoas in your groin/stomach area. And then you’re going to lay yourself on top of it and let your body weight sink around the tune up ball so that it applies that pressure. Then you’re going to breathe around that place where the ball is digging into you. If this isn’t enough, you can slide the leg on the side you’re releasing up towards your elbow and that should make it more intense. Here’s a quick video:
So those are my psoas release suggestions. If you want an entire yoga class centered around this subject, make sure you’re a member in my online studio. I actually filmed a psoas and inner thigh class a few weeks ago and it’s going up in the studio in September! You can find more info about that here:
I hope this was heplful for you. As always, let me know what questions you have either about the psoas, or any other body, yoga, movement, or online studio/classes stuff! Leave a comment or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!
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