and you should probably know about it!
The psoas (pronounced: SO-AS) muscle is really important. For life. For birth. For BEING. When I hear from a mom that she had a very long and challenging previous birth, one of the first things I introduce to her after the lower body stuff like the calf stretch and double calf stretch, is a good psoas release. But even if she hasn't had that previous experience or is a first time mom, I will say that I have yet to meet someone who could not use a good psoas release. So I think that EVERYONE should learn to release their psoas. But since this post is about mamas... I really really think that pregnant mamas or women who are considering getting pregnant should know about their psoas. We sit more than we stand and we have a lot of fear and stress! All of those things will cause this amazing muscle to shorten.
Here is a picture of the psoas. As you can see, it comes all the way from the spine and wraps around attaches to the upper leg. The psoas is a large muscle that attaches at the bottom of the thoracic spine and along the lumbar spine, then runs through the pelvic bowl, down over the front of the hip joint, and attaches at the top of the femur (thigh bone). It is the only muscle connecting the spine to the leg. If it is short, it will pull the pelvis under (tucked... check out THIS post to learn about why we don't want that). And/or it will cause the ribs to thrust. Both are not good for health (pain, discomfort, other issues) or for birth.
Why is everybody's psoas so tight? Because our body adapts to the way it is, most of the time Adaptation is not always a good thing. Check it out:
Yes, I just took a shower (cue angelic singing!) and yes my hair is crazy. Don't let it distract you from my adorable kids, I mean, my crooked artwork, I mean, my psoas demo.
I am a huge huge HUGE fan of optimal fetal positioning and Gail's work at Spinning Babies. I also feel that when we find alignment through this Restorative Exercise TM work during pregnancy, that it is going to aide in our babies being able to find optimal position because there will not be restriction in the muscles, ligaments, and bones making it more difficult for baby to find the best way out. This goes for preconception too! Or any time! Why are we only doing the work during pregnancy? Tangent, but guess what, YAY, this stuff also helps us to feel better, to optimize our human machine, decrease pain and increase whole body wellness and health. So it's not like you necessarily have to wait until pregnancy to start working on this stuff, and even if you're never planning to get pregnant again, believe me, your psoas ES IMPORTANTE!
Here is a great quote from Penny Simkins via Gail's site:
Penny Simkin brought it up this summer in her talk about What We Don’t Know About the OP Baby.It is less important to know the fetal position than it is important to respond to the needs of the birth. The muscles, ligaments and bones may need accommodation regardless of fetal position. In other words, tension in the psoas pair of muscles or pelvic floor can delay an anterior baby and a posterior baby. Extension of the anterior fetus’ head can prevent engagement in some pelvises. The main point is that we can, when needed, promote progress regardless of fetal position.
Found originally HERE
WOW- this is very profound to me and a good reason for us to promote a healthy psoas (among other things too- tights calves and hamstrings anyone? More on that soon.)
Here is a quote from Liz Koch, who has devoted her whole LIFE to this amazing muscle: An essential aspect of the fight-flight-freeze response, also known as the fear response, the psoas expresses our innate sense of safety. The psoas is both an instinctive as well as an emotionally responsive muscle and by tuning into this muscle (without the use of invasive or manipulative approaches), we can gain a deeper sense of calm, integrity, and empowerment.
found originally HERE
Wow again! So it seems that release our MINDS is also important for allowing our psoas to release, then. And likewise, releasing our psoas will aide in releasing our fears. Come at it from both angles for maximum benefit, I say!! I teach an amazing program for childbirth called Hypnobabies and one of the things that it does is help moms to release their fears about childbirth, mothering, etc.
I always want to leave you with something to DO from here. So, why not check in with your psoas?
The first photo is of me laying flat on the ground while trying to get my ribcage to the floor. In an ideal psoas world, the back of our ribcage and our hamstrings would both touch the floor when we were lying flat on our backs. When your ribcage is neutral, do your hamstrings pop up off the floor? Maybe your knees even bend like this? Just observe, no reason to freak out (since that, after all, also is a psoas shortener).
Alright. This next photo is of me getting my hamstrings on the floor. Look what happens to my ribs! Holy rib thrusting batman! I'm holding my shirt up so that you can see just how off the floor the back of my ribcage is.
Chances are pretty good that your psoas could use some relaxing!! But how how how?? Since it's already been done I'm not going to reinvent the wheel. You can use my affiliate link if you want to buy me a latte (not really, I'm cheap and probably won't use it for a latte, just sayin') and get Katy Bowman's really awesome alignment snack called "Frankie says release your psoas" Go HERE to get it for $5! Seriously, I was actually shaking in response to my psoas releasing during the class recently.
And here (scroll to the bottom after reading the whole post, of course) is a couple good photos of a psoas release. One of my favorite psoas releases. I sometimes read in a psoas release. And it sounds really nerdy and weird but after the kids are all in bed when my husband and I are "sitting down" to talk (you know, on those nights that one of us is not WORKING!) I usually am in this position. So try it out. And don't do it for 2 minutes.... hang out there for a little bit!
Make is a great day!!
Mama Aligned is Lindsay McCoy.