A while back I received a call from Liz Koch, wanting to know a bit more of my thoughts on The Pelvis. She had read the MamaSweat article on squats instead of kegels and had long been teaching how the tailbone-out position (which is called Anterior Pelvis or Bootylicious, depending if you're talking to an anatomy professor or Beyonce) is required for correct Psoas function.
Psoa muscle is one of my favorite topics to teach. This muscle has such a rich history in anatomy, and when working correctly gives the body tons of stability. When not working correctly, it can wreak havoc on the knees and hip joints, degenerate the lumbar spine, and increase fracture risk of the thoracic vertebrae. Each psoa also attach to the intervertebral disks of T-12 and the lumbar spine. If your disks are prolapsing into the body, constant psoai tension can be the primary cause.
The word Psoas is interesting, even before getting to what it does. In modern Greek, the word psoa means "pertaining to the loin." In the 1500's, French anatomist (but obviously not Latin language expert) Riolanus began to refer to the pair of psoa as the musculus psoas. Because there were two. Technically, two psoa make a psoai, which was the more common form used by Hippocrates and other ancient Greek physicians. That's why you will hear me refer to the psoa or psoai when I do a podcast-tele-interview with Liz Koch next week. But wait, there's more. Before the word psoa was used, ancient Greek anatomists referred to this muscle as the origin or womb of the kidney.
This was a compound between kidney and the second part, which means womb, origin, source. FYI, trying to get your computer to type in ancient Greek is a time-consuming task, but I thought you'd appreciate it. And no, this information did not come from Wikipedia (ew), but from (NERD ALERT!), the Lexicon of Orthopaedic Etymology, which, yes, sits by my bed. Thanks for asking.
Issues of the psoas are often considered emotional in root by almost every somatic therapist and non-Western trained medical professional. The adrenals, or organs of reaction, as I like to call them, are located at the top of the kidneys (ad-above, renal-kidney). One of the psoai attachments are located just at this location. Anecdotal data shows that the curling tendency (spinal flexion) of the body occurs when stressed, just as a cat (and many other animals) flexes its spine to appear menacing when threatened. Is it to appear larger? Is it to protect the vitals? No one knows for sure why it happens, but still the reflex is in our biology. Turns out those Ancient Greeks were pretty smart. Just watch Clash of the Titans. Not the new one, but the old one. Harry Hamlin. Meow! It's chock full of history.
There are also structural reasons the psoai do not yield properly, i.e. using them to hold yourself up all the time. Forward pelvis anyone? If the psoai released you would fall over, so it turns out your psoa tension may be a self-induced stability mechanism. The length (and therefore electrical flow) of the psoai are absolutely dependent on skeletal position. The more you know about where your body is in space, the better you can determine if you've got your muscles at the right length.
Anyhow, my point. Liz Koch (an international somatic educator and creator of Core Awareness™, and author of the Psoas Book, Unraveling Scoliosis CD, Core Awareness, Enhancing Yoga, Pilates, Exercise & Dance, and Psoas and Back Pain CD) will be interviewing me in a format you can all join to listen and ask questions!
Listen to my interview with Liz Koch here!