I am writing from the perspectives I am most familiar with from my 30 years of teaching about movement, coordination and dance, I would like to share a perhaps different viewpoint about the psoas group. It is the only muscle that attaches/connects the legs via the deep and profound support that the pelvis gives, to the spine. It supports, as well, the lumber spine. It is therefore an immensely important connection to the simplest and most complex movement. In everyday life, walking and standing is ideally supported from deep underneath the outer, more easily accessed muscles of the trunk and legs. It connects to and moves the leg, organizes and supports the lumbar spine. Energy, defined here as movement, passes back and forth from the earth, through our legs, which move us, giving us flight.
This movement passes through the spine and pelvis and back to the ground which gives us support, metaphorically and physically. The diaphragm is also involved and our movement patterns affect our lungs, and breathing mechanisms.
The psoas is profoundly underused or overused: often not “connected” to the function of the whole person/body. It can be the over use, mis-use of the quadriceps (the six muscles on the front of the femur), the rectus abdominis, the transverse, and or the pectoralis group at the front of the chest that undermine the superb integrating factors of the psoas. Many exercises, as well as ways of thinking, doing and being, can kink up the works so to speak. The quadriceps can hold us in flexion at the hip, bringing dysfunction to our knees, and holding us in hyper extension in our lower back. These things can shorten our movement/dancing lives, or just bring pain. They affect our relationship to the ground for support. The hamstrings extend, connect and bring the pelvis into a relationship to the spine and legs that creates a “open door” in which to find and use the psoas, which should not be held, but instead, used fluidly. The hamstrings, which “right the pelvis on top of the legs (Gray’s Anatomy) help to bring the pelvis in alignment to the legs so that the psoas is more easily accessible to support our movement. It cannot be exercised. The goal is to re-pattern, and re-educate our minds and bodies. The psoas mirrors the depth with which it moves and supports us. Read:
Ida Rolfe, developer of Rolfing author of “Structural Integration”, in all her wisdom, has very much to say about the psoas, as does Irmgard Bartenieff, (LIMS), a visionary in new ways of thinking about movement coordination and functioning as is Susan Klein, master teacher and body worker, originator of Klein Technique. Esoteric? No, not all. Profoundly simple and thereby often elusive. Our biggest obstacle can be our thinking, the way we hold our minds in terms of defining strength. Always back to the pelvis, and grounding.