In addition to the psoas being tight, it is also typically weak at the same time. This creates dysfunction in the muscle. Our brain has trouble controlling the muscle because it has been in a shortened position for so long, thinking the psoas always needs to be flexed. We can stretch endlessly, but if we do not build functionality, then it will easily tighten up again.
Psoas Strength Test
(Modified Sahrmann’s Test (3))
Here is a general way to determine if your psoas is weak:
- Standing, grab and pull your knee to your chest as high as you can without leaning backward. You will need to get your thigh well past 90° (in relation to your supporting leg).
- Once your knee is close to your chest, release your hands and attempt to keep your leg above 90 degrees for 15 seconds.
- Start timing when you release your hands and stop when your thigh drops below 90° (make sure to use a clock on the wall).
In addition to stretching, strengthening is key to achieve a fully functional psoas muscle. Here are some basic psoas exercises:
Make sure to keep you abs tight and don't over arch your lower back. Keep your legs close to 90° at the knees and hips.
Pull one leg in as far into your chest as you can and hold the contraction for 2-3 seconds. Return to the start position and repeat with the other leg. This exercise should be done slowly focusing on control and the contraction.
1) Warren Hammer, M.S., D.C., DABCO (January 31, 1992). The Psoas Syndrome. Dynamic Chiroopractic volume 10 issue 3. Retrieved from http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=43076
2)John S. Gillick, MD, MPH, FACP (December 1, 2003) Ilio-psoas muscle strain – The Fillet Mignon of Back Aches. UCSD Healthcare. Retrieved from http://www.simple-ergonomics.com/pdf/Ilio-Psoas-07-2003.pdf
3)Michael Boyle (July 15, 2006) Understanding Hip Flexion. Ptonthenet. Retrieved from http://user152646.websitewizard.com/files/unprotected/Understanding_The_Psoas.pdf