The mighty hip flexor: part 1

If you’re anything like me, you were amazed to find out that this muscle, also known as the psoas (pronounced so-az), is one of the longest muscles in the body and the only muscle that connects the upper body and lower body.  All while controlling balance, our ability to sit, stand, twist, reach, bend, walk and step.

The human body is more than complex. It’s nearly incomprehensible especially when we get into the field of biomechanics and its effect on the entire body.

The hips are in my opinion, the most important region of the body and this is what we need to discuss, in depth, in order for you to see the ultimate benefit of having healthy and mobile hip flexors.

We cannot function perfectly if our hips our imperfect. It’s as simple as that. Our hips impact everything that the rest of the body does or tries to do. Sit, stand, twist, reach, bend, walk, step, and the list goes on and on. Imagine trying to sit or stand with a broken arm, or a torn rotator cuff. It still happens. Now imagine trying to sit or stand with a broken hip or a torn hip flexor. It’s impossible. The hips contain all of life’s movement and ultimately power.

The hip region is home to over 15 defined muscles that play an important role in the function of the hips and surrounding bones.

The gluteal group is the major contributor for hip extension – bringing your leg backwards, like when your leg is at the back part of gait.

The lateral rotator group is in charge of the obvious, lateral (and medial) rotation of the hips – turning the leg in and out, like when you are dancing.

The abductor/ adductor group controls the outward and inward movement of the leg, side to side

The iliopsoas group does the opposite of the gluteal group, hip flexion – bringing your leg forwards, like walking up the stairs or sitting

In order for each muscle group to properly move as it was designed, certain things must happen in order for the hips to function properly. These 4 muscle groups have their own certain functions, but one group has a little more responsibility than the others and this cannot be disregarded. It’s the iliopsoas group.

The reason the psoas is so popular is because it has numerous duties. On the structural level, it is responsible for stabilising the spine and flexing the hip but also assists in rotating the femur outward and adducting it (moving it toward the midline).

One of the most significant things about the psoas is that it connects the legs to the spine, which means that what you do with your legs could possibly affect your spine without you thinking about it, or even feeling it.

The psoas muscles can be found deep within the front part of your hip joint and lower spine; The psoas attaches to the side and toward the front of the 12th thoracic vertebrae (the thoracic is the part of your spine where your ribs are, so the 12th thoracic is the bottom rib) and each of the lumbar vertebrae (the big parts of your lower back). Moving through the pelvis without attaching to bone, the psoas inserts with a tendon at the top of the femur. The anatomy of psoas and its structure makes it a critical component for optimal postural alignment, movement, and overall well-being.

The psoas is the only muscle in the human organism that connects the upper body to the lower body, and its importance extends to the nerve complex and energy systems that run through the centre of your body.

In addition, the psoas provides a diagonal support through the trunk, creating a shelf for the organs of the abdominal area. When walking, the psoas moves freely and joins with a released diaphragm in order to maintain a stable and secured spine as well as the organs, blood vessels, and nerves of the trunk. A healthy functioning psoas provides a delicate but important connection between the upper body and the legs

In a perfect situation, the psoas guides the transfer of weight from the trunk into the legs and also acts as a pathway guiding the flow of subtle energies. When the psoas is working properly, it functions like the guy ropes of a tent, stabilising your spine just as the guy ropes help stabilise the main pole(s) of the tent. At any point should one of those guy ropes snap, the entire tent becomes vulnerable collapsing from high wind or the fact that the stability of the foundation has been compromised.

When the psoas has been chronically shortened, a list of unfortunate conditions can surface if not treated appropriately. Inevitably, other muscle groups become involved in compensating for the loss of structural reliability. The hips begin to tilt forward, altering the distances in certain joints and bony structures, and the femurs are compacted heavily into the hip sockets. To compensate for this change, the quadriceps muscles become overdeveloped which can be a recipe for knee and lower back pain. in essence, not looking after the psoas can lead to major chronic and acute issues in all of your joints and compromise posture and organ function.

Bodyman-iliopsoas-refered-pain-2

As modern-day populations grow more sedentary thanks to technology and an over-emphasised use of “comfortable” chairs, psoas-related lower back, knee and hip pain, and the condition of “sitting too much,” are quickly skyrocketing.

Luckily, I can help.

If you want to learn more about how, then please contact me

amy@mgbfitness.com

 

 

 

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