The psoas is an interesting muscle:
it has superficial and deep attachments in the body
it has attachments between the spine and the lower limb
it is involved with posture and movement
Therefore, when it is shortened or tight, it can result in low back pain as well as several musculoskeletal conditions of the hip.
But why does it get tight, and what can we do about it?
Anatomy of psoas muscle
As mentioned, the psoas muscle is one of the deeper muscles. It starts from the lumbar spine and combines into a single tendon with the iliacus muscle before attaching into the thigh bone. This allows it to function as the strongest hip flexor of the body. The psoas muscle also plays a role in stabilising the spine of the lower back.
A combination of poor posture with inadequate core muscle activation can also result in an overactive and tight psoas, which increases the curvaturec of your lumbar spine resulting in low back pain.
Another common reason for psoas tightness is overuse, especially in running, due to its nature as a hip flexor.
What can you do?
Fortunately, there are many ways you can address tight psoas muscles. First and foremost, always ensure that you maintain good posture when you stand or sit. A good cue for good posture is to imagine stacking your breastbone on top of your pubic bone. If you are an office worker, having a good set up of your work station can also help. For example, positioning the middle of your computer monitor at eye level also puts your entire trunk in a nice upright position.
Stretching at least twice a day and after exercising is also beneficial for overall flexibility. To stretch the psoas, you can go into a lunge position with the knee of your back leg on the ground and tuck your tailbone underneath your body as far as you can. You should feel a nice stretch over the front of your hips on the back leg.
Finally, you can also work your core muscles with exercises like Pilates on a regular basis to provide good spinal stability as well. This will ensure that your psoas muscles work efficiently while remaining supple and relaxed.