The Psoas And The Child Within
How many of you are familiar with the song These Boots Are Made For Walking? (Here's a link for those of you not familiar with it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV-iL-1mjf8)
This morning I woke up with Nancy Sinatra's song in my head. Specifically the line, "these boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do..." got me thinking that our bodies are meant for moving, but that's just NOT what we do - at least not often enough. Lack of movement shows up in so many ways. Maybe for you, it is a stiff neck or wonky low back that goes out every so often.
In my practice, I've found the psoas to be a muscle that contributes to issues on many levels. This muscle has been coined the "fight or flight" muscle. From an evolutionary standpoint, when we perceive danger, this muscle contracts and readies itself to either stand our ground and fight or to get us the heck out of there!
However, in our day-to-day lives, we tend to sit more than move. Spending long stretches of time in front of the computer or binge-watching shows on TV may have a detrimental effect on this muscle. The more time we spend in a sitting position can cause this muscle to shorten.
Have you ever been on a road trip with long distances between rest stops? How did your body react when you got out of the car? Did it take a while to stand up straight or get your legs moving well? A tight psoas is associated with difficulty standing straight from a seated position or low back pain when walking for an extended time. Think - hunched over and a shortened stride when walking to relieve the discomfort.
Something Else About The Psoas
You may have read or heard that the body stores emotion and trauma. The psoas is ground zero for this. Remember, this is the fight or flight muscle. If there was ever a time in your life that you wanted to get away from an emotional, physical, or traumatic event, were verbally or physically abused, and could not run away or fight your way through it your body and specifically, the psoas still readied itself to act. Those feelings, emotions, and memories are not only accumulated in the mind but are also cached in our tissues and energetic field. That has a lasting impact on the mind, the body, and the spirit.
Think about your six-year-old self. Say there's a situation that you want to run and hide from but can't. The visceral reaction. the clenching of the psoas becomes associated with those feelings of fear, and inadequacy. The emotions, feelings, and tension are stored in the body. As an adult, maybe you have an injury to the hip/low back area, and it stays tight and won't release - it just won't go away. Well, the past may be informing the present. Sure, as a grown-up you have more understanding. Maybe you ice the area or add heat. Perhaps you get a massage but still, the tension in the area persists. Could it be time to look deeper?
That six-year-old had a limited vocabulary or didn't feel safe telling someone what happened or how she felt about it so she kept it inside. That tension may never have gone away in the body. The psoas is always ready to get up and go if needed. As an adult with that injury, the deep memory of emotion and the inability to respond is still there as memory in the muscle also referred to as "issues in the tissues" by some massage therapists. It's very likely you don't remember this event that buried hidden feelings in the body.
As part of a healing process including massage, stretching, and strengthening it m