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Le Refuge Yoga Mississauga ~ Blog

Can a tight psoas lead to back pain?

In a previous article, I mentioned that back pain is one of the primary reasons for visiting your doctor. The pain is either a constant dull throbbing or a sharp pointed pain, and in a desperate attempt to resolve the issue, you trek all the way to your doctor... but what if you could take control and do something to feel better?
A major contributor to lower back pain is a tight psoas muscle, or rather group of muscles. The psoas group attach at the lumbar spine, run through the pelvis and then connect on the inside of the femur bone.
This group of muscles flexes and bends the spine, so when it gets tight, it pulls on your spine, tilts your pelvis forward, and creates tension on the vertebraes.
Unfortunately, the psoas is hard to find as it is deep, and often obscured by tight quadriceps or weak abdominal muscles. When the abdominals are weak, the psoas takes over and supports these weak muscles which is the primary cause of low back pain.
With yoga you can target the psoas group with poses such as lunges, back bends, and hip stretches. The variety and efficiency with which yoga pinpoints and lengthens the psoas is amazing!
What are the signs of tight psoas?
  • While doing abdominal strengthening exercises, are you using your core, or your hip flexor muscles? If you feel like you are using the hip flexors, your psoas muscle group is more than likely very tight.
  • In straight leg stretches, does the top of your thigh feel bunchy and hard, or deep and soft? You may have guessed: it should feel deep and soft.
  • In backbends such as bridge or wheel pose, are the top of your thighs soft and supple or bulging and tight? They should feel supple. In general, if you are experiencing low back pain, try working with the psoas muscle to find relief. Keep the tops of your thighs moving back toward your hamstrings. Soften and lengthen your breath to help smooth the muscles out.
  • Try our beginner classes or our stress relief and flexibility class to learn to distinguish the psoas from the quadriceps or the abdominals. Experience working with the psoas muscle and soothe your lower back pain!
Click here for our class schedule.

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