Your Iliopsoas (“psoas”) muscles allow you to maintain your uprightness when sitting, your spinal alignment and balanced equilibrium when standing, and your efficiency of movement bending, twisting, walking and running. Your psoas muscles are initiators of movement and dynamic stabilizers. The psoas muscles are your deepest core muscles, and they are
When the psoas muscles function properly, they stabilize the lumbar spine, causing a feeling of better support and strength; they allow the spine and abdomen to fall back, giving the appearance of strong abdominal muscles and the feel of a strong, effortlessly supportive core. It's not strength that's being felt, though, but control and balance.
The psoas muscles help regulate our changes of position as we move from rest to activity and from activity to rest. They help maintain our balance and stability and are central to movements from lying to sitting, from sitting to standing, and from standing to walking and running.
Through your psoas muscles, your brain adjusts your spinal curves (and balance) as you bend forward, lean back, move side-to-side, and twist and turn. Overly tight psoas muscles don’t lengthen enough as you stand straight; they pull from your groin to your low back, causing lumbopelvic or lumbrosacral pain.
If the tension is unequal from one side to the other, the psoas can affect the straightness of the spine from side to side, and can cause your pelvic girdle to twist with one side coming forward and the other falling back.
Overly tight psoas muscles create groin pain or deep low back pain. You may have the experience of a groin pull or of muscles seizing up in your pelvis or low back. Overly tight psoas muscles that create too deep a fold at your groin and too much back arch contribute to groin pain and back muscle fatigue and soreness.
Overly tight psoas muscles shorten your stride and require your hamstrings and gluteus medius muscles to work harder to bring your “standing” leg back as you step forward. You end up with tight hamstrings and tight gluteus medius muscles (hip pain in back). Basically, your brain has learned to hold your psoas muscles at a level of tension that’s related to the tension of other muscles. In extreme cases, and over extended periods of time, imbalanced psoas muscles will contribute to spinal disc compression.
In actuality, most people never experience complete relaxation or complete activation; they're stuck with elevated muscle tone somewhere in between, stuck with limitations of movement and posture, stuck with ungainly movement (taken as normal "individual differences"), stuck with some degree of muscle fatigue (often mistaken for weakness).
The reason: muscle memory.
Muscles have no control of their own. Memory resides in the nervous system; the nervous system controls the muscular system to coordinate movement and maintain balance, something no muscle can do on its own. No muscle controls any other muscle; the nervous system does that. To do that, it remembers (or we remember, both at a conscious and at a subconscious level) what movement and balance feels like and our nervous system coordinates (we coordinate) our movements to re-create and maintain those familiar sensations of movement and balance.
Muscles never work alone; they always work in concert with other muscles. What any muscle does affects our entire balance. Other muscles have to compensate for those effects on balance by tightening or relaxing. Your brain controls these entire patterns of movement and compensation with memories of movement ("muscle memory").
Because your nervous system and muscular system cooperate as a whole, to try to change the movement and tension behavior of tight psoas muscles without changing the larger movement pattern of which they are a part is to work against the rest of the system and its (our) memory of how movements go and feel. That's why methods of muscle manipulation (e.g., massage, myofascial release, stretching) produce changes that are either temporary or slow in coming - and why psoas release by manipulation is painful: it works directly on sore, contracted psoas muscles against the conditioning of the entire movement system.
Releasing the psoas muscles using Ortho-Bionomy, however, is painless with longer lasting results. Because Ortho-Bionomy releases work with the innate intelligence of the body (including the nervous system) to release unhealthy muscle tension, the results affect related muscles and last much longer than traditional forms of massage, such as Sports Massage, Deep Tissue or Rolfing. When combined with stretching and strengthening routines specific to you, your psoas will return to a healthy state more quickly, giving your body more space to breath, relieving low back and hip pain and improving your balance and stability.