There's nothing like releasing the tensions of the day to help you prepare for a good night's sleep.
Spending 5-10 minutes relaxing your all important psoas muscles can do wonders to reset and calm your nervous system.
Get relief from low back pain
Our psoas muscles do a lot of work to stabilize our spine.
In addition to that job, they often step in to pick up the slack for other muscles.
In short, they're usually overworked and sometimes this can result in lower back pain.
So, if you're someone who has an achey low back at the end of the day or you want to get relief from low back pain, these psoas releases can be quite helpful.
Quick anatomy lesson
You have 2 psoas muscles. Your psoai attach to T12 and your lumbar vertebrae (low back) as well as your intervertebral discs.
Each psoas muscle travels out to the side and downward to cross the front of your pelvis where it then attaches to the inside of the uppor portion of your femur (thigh bone).
A couple other fascinating facts about the psoai are:
1. Embedded within the 2 layers of each psoas muscle is your lumbar plexus - the bundle of nerves that communicate with some of your pelvic floor, abdominal and leg muscles.
When your psoai are tight and short, circulation (and therefore oxygen supply) to the muscle and the nerves is less than ideal.
2. Your kidneys with their adrenal gland "caps" sit right in front of the psoai (see image on the right).
Put simply, when you're under stress, your adrenal glands go to work. This is not their primary job, but if you're under stress a lot, dealing with stress can become their primary job.
Let's take a moment to pause and give thanks and apologies to our adrenal glands for all we ask of them. Helping the environment around your adrenals relax can be very supportive for your adrenals.
And another thing.....
When we sit, we put our psoai muscles in a shortened position. When we sit for hours and hours, the muscles fibers that form the psoas muscle adapt to being in a shortened position.
As I talked about yesterday, muscles in a shortened position don't get optimal amounts of electricity, oxygen or waste removal.
What do we want?
How do we get that?
Sorry about that, my inner drill sergeant wanted to chime in :).
A tale of 2 psoas releases
These are 2 psoas releases that I do before going to bed. They're a great way to relax at the end of the day and prepare yourself for a good night's sleep. Bonus, if you hold tension in your back this is an excellent way to give yourself relief.
Note: before doing the psoas releases, lie flat on the floor and just notice
1. whether or not your hamstrings (backs of your legs) are making contact with the floor or if you have space underneath them and
2. are the fronts of your ribs sticking out above the flesh of your abdomen. Space under your hamstrings and/or your ribs sticking out above your abs are indicators that your psoai are in need of some relief and release.
Psoas release #1
- Use as many pillows/cushions as you need to raise your torso high enough to allow your hamstrings to make full contact with the floor (legs are straight)
- Place the pillows under your upper back, about the level of the shoulder blades - make sure they are high enough & don't prevent your rib cage from dropping down towards the floor
- Let the front of your ribs sink down into the flesh of your abdomen
- Focus on allowing the back of your ribs to relax down towards the floor
- Release and relax
Psoas release #2
- Bend your knees so that your shins are vertical (straight up and down)
- Slide a cushion or yoga block underneath your pelvis - make sure the block/cushion is low enough that it doesn’t prevent your low back from sinking down towards the floor
- Allow your low back to gently relax down towards the floor
I recommend being with these releases a minimum of 5 minutes each and yes, I've drifted off while doing them :)
When you're done, stretch back out so you're lying flat on the floor and notice what's different from when you first checked in here.
If you prefer the video version - I demonstrate both releases in this video. Enjoy!
I also highly recommend Katy Bowman’s Alignment Snack Frankie Says Relax The Psoas to support optimal length of your psoas muscles – only $5!