A little anatomy for you:
- Your psoas muscles are two huge muscle groups that run either side of your torso, connecting your vertebra in your lower back to your pelvis and leg bone! That’s quite a large area to cover for one muscle right!
- Your psoas plays a huge part in controlling your lower back and pelvis during pregnancy.
- Your psoas helps to keep your spine balanced. If one side gets tight, the other side will have to lengthen, causing a tilt of your spine and pelvis.
- When both sides are the same length and tone, your body is central and balanced.
- The postural changes that occur during pregnancy can cause these muscles to stop working well, contributing to lower back, hip pain, twisting of your pelvis and more.
- Your psoas muscles work closely with your Quadratus Lumborum (aka QL) muscles which insert into your lower ribs and pelvic bone.
- A little muscle getting a bit lazy (or a little hyperactive), may go unnoticed by your body for a while. However, a huge muscle like this will definitely make a lot more noise when it becomes dysfunctional.
Let's take a closer look...
Psoas muscle releases play a huge part in the treatment plan of most pregnant women. Gentle releases are performed on most (if not every) treatment when you visit a prenatal chiropractor. This helps keep each psoas muscle under as little tension as possible during pregnancy. This is particularly important due the psoas muscles' proximity to the uterus.
Psoas releases can also have a great impact on relieving heartburn when coupled with diaphragm releases. Again these are special techniques prenatal chiropractors perform on pregnant women when needed to help keep your body as balanced as possible.
One way you can have a positive impact on keeping your psoas muscles balanced and healthy is by stretching; a simple stretch can go a long way. Think about the anatomy of the muscle, while you stretch it to help get most out of the stretch.
Here is how it's done:
Start: Kneel on the floor and with your right leg, take a big stride forward so you end up in a big lunge position. Keep your torso as straight and upright as possible and a gently pelvic tilt. Your weight should be balanced between the heel of your front foot and your hind knee.
Imagine you trying to push your pubic bone forwards and slightly up towards the ceiling. Shift your body weight forward (like a lunge), as far as you can comfortably without arching your lower back. You should be able to maintain your pelvic tilt, if not you have gone too far forwards.
You will feel a stretch at the front of your hind thigh and a little in the back of the front leg (hamstring).
Action: Reach your arm on the opposite side to your front leg, up towards the ceiling.
Reach toward the ceiling as if you want to touch it with your fingertips. Then slowly let your arm and body drop over away from your hind leg.
Your focus should be reaching up and curving to the side, rather than scrunching up your once side of your body. Imagine you are making a capital 'C' with your body. Make sure your torso is not dropping forwards or backwards, imagine you are between two panes of glass; one behind you and one in front of you.
To enhance the stretch, take a slow deep breath in. Feel your ribs expand and your arm wanting to reach further up and over. Then slowly breathe out. Repeat for 2 more deep breaths, each time reaching further up. On your third exhalation drop your arm down, and return to your start position.
This is one repetition. Now repeat on your other side.
A total of three deep breaths on each side will do the trick.