Sitting Series – Muscle of the Soul

You sit. I sit. We all sit.

With all the hype (and a bit of Googling), it’s easy to think that sitting for long periods of time equals a slow, lonely, and painful death. Let’s get our heads out of the morgue, and into the sunshine, folks. There are plenty of solutions – standing desk, exercise ball, walk around every 30 minutes, etc…but let’s say all goes wrong and you have a full day/week of sitting or you’re trapped in a car/train/plane? These are the muscles that will need the extra love.

Each article will talk about a muscle affected by sitting for long periods of time. It will discuss how to know if the muscle is weak/strong from sitting, and how to take care of an imbalance or weak muscles that are a result of sitting from long periods of time.

Muscle for today? The Psoas. Pronouncedpsoas-muscle-group_354719591.jpg “So-as.” For example: ‘so as your boss, I’m going to need you to sit all day or you’re fired.’

A current theory is that the Psoas is kept in a shortened state during the day by sitting, which causes the muscle to stay tight due to muscle memory.

We’ll go with that theory for now, but know there is some hot debate on the nuances of the psoas’ bio-mechanical function. What we do know is that the psoas is a super important muscle used everyday for core function. Here’s a video highlighting the actions and anatomy if you want to get geeky.

The psoas, or the muscle of the soul in yoga, is a deep muscle underneath a lot of organs. Because of it’s depth, the psoas is hard to get to (not impossible) as a massage therapist (MT). MTs will want to develop a repertoire with their client before working this muscle, as it requires trust and good communication to sink into the abdomen. Many MTs can accomplish the same goals by working other muscles that are more accessible. They may even recommend the exercises/stretches seen in this post before doing hands-on techniques. These measures are the best bet, especially if you’ve tested positive for a tight psoas and you’re a chronic sitter.

Making sure this muscle is flexible, happy, and healthy will prevent injury and may relieve back pain. Is your psoas tight or weak or just right? Try this test

**You are going to have imbalances between your left and right psoas/hip flexors! You’re not a robot that is perfectly ambidextrous. You have a dominant side.** Mine was my right.

Depending on the state of the muscles – check out this site for exercises on either strengthening or stretching the psoas.

  • Strong muscle? Stretch it (dynamic > static stretches)
  • Weak muscle? Strengthen it (I would start with bodyweight exercises since they’re easiest to do.)

Pop quiz! Can you spot the psoas in the picture below? That’s all I have today folks, good work, let’s get up and moving!