According to the World Health Organisation , 60% to 70% of adults living in industrialized countries will experience lower back pain at some point during their lives. It is a major cause of disability and lost work days.
There are many reasons for lower back pain, including a slipped disc, scoliosis, or vertebral fractures. The majority of tension in the lower back can be linked to lifestyle. We spend far too much time sitting, which is bad news for our health!
The psoas is a key muscle
The psoas, which is a vital muscle that links the upper and lower bodies, is essential. It attaches to the spine in the lumbar region, the inner thighs and the spine at the other. It can be involved in many movements and actions, including connecting with the diaphragm and balancing the core. However, it is mostly a hip flexor which draws the thigh towards your upper body.
Lifestyle and the psoas
The psoas contracts when we sit, even though we may not be aware of it. The psoas becomes constantly contracted if we sit for long periods of time every day. What happens next? What happens then? This puts pressure not only on the discs, but also on surrounding muscles. This is why you feel tension and compression in your lower back.
What should we do?
A tight psoas can lead to problems. We should therefore stretch it. We also need to tone our psoas. Why? A weak psoas muscle can also lead to poor posture, and eventually back problems. A weak psoas can cause the pelvis to be pushed forward, and the lumbar spine to flatten.
It is important to know the difference between a toned and contracted muscle. There is still some contraction even when a muscle rests. This is known as “muscle tone”. Toned muscles are important because it can be difficult to move from being completely relaxed to wanting to move. A toned muscle will respond more quickly to the brain’s command to move because it has the right amount tension. An overly contracted muscle won’t contract because it has too many contractions. We want our psoas toned, not too weak or contracted.
How yoga can help
Yoga can release, stretch and tone the psoas. In my online yoga class, below are some movements that “sense” the Psoas. These are slow, subtle movements that can be difficult to detect but will help you to sense the toning and contracting of your psoas muscles. If necessary, repeat the steps a few more times to strengthen your connection with your psoas.