One of the origins of your back pain could be found in the psoas muscle. This vital muscle is the only one that connects the upper body to the lower body. For that reason it’s functions can have many ramifications on the body should the psoas be out of sync. This muscle acts as a prime mover of an action or as a critical stabilizer in concert with other prime movers. So whether in the pelvis and lower body in walking, or in the upper body throwing a ball or reaching for something at the back of your highest kitchen cupboard, your psoas will be in use. It’s a busy muscle.
The psoas can:
- balance the core
- stimulate organs and nerves
- contract, release, stabilize, neutralize or deteriorate like any other muscle
- connect the upper body to the lower body
- create movement and flow that can be transmitted throughout the body
If you find yourself suffering back pain one of the best reliefs is to lie in the constructive rest position. This has been taught for many years and was first introduced by Mabel Todd in the early part of the 20th Century in Boston and New York City as an alternative to strict military PE. This position helps to rebalance the body in a natural way. In CRP the body will give in to gravity – let go, and become balanced and receptive to its natural alignment and posture.
- Lie on your back on a firm flat surface like a yoga mat.
- Bend the knees, feet flat on the floor, hip width apart. Your head can be supported on a folded up towel so that your head is in line with your spine. If you find it hard to keep the hip knees and feet in line with each other you can rest your knees together with your feet wider and toes turned in.
- An alternative position, raise the lower legs on a stool or chair that is the same height as your thigh bone so there is a right angle at the knee to the hip joint and the calf is at the same height as the knee and the ankle in line with the knee.
- The femur or thigh bone, will rest gently into the hip socket and release the hip flexors that have a tendency to grip. The spine will follow it’s natural curves and free the psoas.
Lying there, you then use this imagery script to help the body relax and release. If you have someone who can read it out, all the better. If not, you could record it on your phone and play it back as you lie down.
Close your eyes and envision the full length of the spine from the base of the skull to your tailbone. Think of energy traveling down the back of the spine and up the front of the spine. Inhale as this energy flows down the spine and exhale as it flows through the front of the spine creating a circular energy flow. Allow the weight of the head to melt into the surface in line with your neutral spine. Relax. Allow your spine to melt onto the mat, visualise each vertebra and the pelvic bones supporting the body without using any muscles. Feel as if the knees are draped over a clothes hanger, thighs hanging on one side, the lower legs on the other, with the hanger supported from above. Bring your mental attention into the thighs and imagine a waterfall flowing down from the knees into the hip sockets, releasing the thigh muscles. Imagine another waterfall trickling from the knees, down the shins to the ankles. And again and again… Feel your feet, as well as your eyes, relaxing in clear pools of water.
Repeat for 10 minutes. When you have completed, roll to one side of the body and push up to sitting slowly so you don’t disrupt any alignment correction.
Enjoy. The psoas is now released and in a relaxed state in the lumbar spine. Try this daily, anytime. When first you practice this you may experience slight discomfort or emotional feelings. This is OK but if you feel extreme discomfort then do not persist. The more you practice, any uncomfortable feeling will fade.
References: The Vital Psoas, Jo Ann Staugaard-Jones and Dynamic Alignment through Imagery, Eric Franklin