What is the Psoas?
The psoas muscle is located deep into the belly, which runs obliquely from the spine to the femur, it is attached at the hip by the iliacus, from the hip to the thigh. Together, the psoas and iliacus make up the most powerful hip flexor.
Why should runners look after their psoas?
Even though the psoas is a hard to find muscle, that often people forget about, this muscle enables you to run. Every time you lift your knee, the psoas contracts, when the leg swings back, the psoas lengthens. When we run at an average cadence of 180/min, both left and right psoas contract and lengthen more than 5,000 times during a one hour run! That is a lot of strain on a muscle that is only as thick as our lower forearm.
The psoas is also very important for good posture. Working in coordination with the core muscles, abs, obliques, lower back, the psoas helps stabilize the midsection and pelvis. Every time we walk, stand, or run we are engaging the psoas. If the psoas muscle is weakened due to tightness or injury, our running will be highly affected.
How do we know if our psoas is very tight or injured?
The psoas affects many muscles part of our core. If you feel pain or twitch in your stride when running, your psoas might be too tight. When you feel pain running uphill, walking up stairs, or any time you lift your knee you might have problems with your psoas. If you feel pain in your hip, groin, glutes, or lower back, you might have psoas tightness or injury. The psoas is tricky as it is connected to a lot of our main core muscles. To test your psoas, to see if it is too tight, on the floor, lie on your back with your legs straight. Pull one knee towards your chest, if the other leg lifts off the floor, then your psoas is too tight,
One of the main culprit of psoas tightness is sitting. Spending many hours sitting regularly will put the psoas in a perpetually shortened state. Due to muscle memory, the psoas will maintain this shortened state. A short and tight psoas, can cause an arched lower back, anterior pelvic tilt (tipping forward). We have to make it a habit to get up often and stretch regularly. When we sit, we have to pay attention to our posture, sit up tall without arching the back. To stretch and lengthen the psoas will not only decrease the risk of injury, but also open up the running stride.
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