Do you currently experience stress during your workday or daily life? The situation we’re in can be tough and if you find yourself having extra stress, you’re not alone. Stress can be the cause of low back pain in addition to movement patterns and it’s affecting your psoas. There are a few simple ways to relieve stress and low back pain and all you need is yourself and a couple of things you already own.
What can you do for your psoas? You may be wondering what the heck is your psoas. Pronounced (so-ahz), this is the muscle of your soul. This muscle responds to fear and stress. When you are in your mother’s womb you are in the fetal position. There isn’t a lot of room inside the womb and you fit comfortably inside it for 9 months. Once you are born and grow and move, your spine goes from a C shaped position to straight and then begins to form two curves.
Do you remember feeling scared as a kid and maybe going in your closet to hide? If you haven’t experienced this, have you seen it in a movie? The door opens and a little kid is sitting on the floor with his knees bent and against his chest with his arms wrapped around his legs. The little kid is in the fetal position because he’s scared. It’s natural to be in this position.
In times of stress, your body might respond in a similar way by rounding the shoulders and feeling like a turtle retreating in its shell. These responses hinder our psoas the more often we feel this way. There are ways you can help your psoas when feeling stressed, fearful, or anxious.
First, take a deep breath. By taking a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth you are tapping into your parasympathetic nervous system which helps calm you down. It also helps keep you in the present moment. Most likely your mind has wandered down a path of the past or future and it’s important to be in the present moment.
Second, recognize what emotion you are feeling and say it aloud or to someone in the room with you. When saying the emotion out loud you are identifying how you feel and helping to release and let go of it. It’s harder to continue feeling negative emotions than it is to let go of them.
Thirdly, if you are able to take a break for 13 minutes and lie down, try this breathing exercise. Lie on your mat on your back with a small pillow or folded hand towel underneath your head (not your neck) with your knees bent and your feet on the mat. Place your feet and knees about 2-3 inches apart. If you have trouble keeping your knees bent or have low back pain, place your feet on a chair.
Place your hands on your hips or rib cage while breathing and close your eyes.
Set a timer for 10 minutes or use Insight Timer’s Cello music and close your eyes and just breathe. Focus on your breathing and if thoughts come into your mind, it’s ok. When the timer ends lie on your side with a hand under your head and knees bent. Set another timer for 3 minutes before getting off the floor.
After doing this exercise you will feel amazing! The first time I did it I felt relaxed and awake. Before the exercise, I had been experiencing foot pain with no rhyme or reason. Afterward, my foot pain was gone! Any tension and stress I was feeling before were gone! Try this out and let me know if it helps you relax AND relieve pain and tension in your body. It also helped my lower back lengthen and feel flat against the mat without me doing anything.
Try this breathing technique any time throughout the day except before bed. While this helps you relax and feel awake, it can disrupt your circadian rhythm. It will help you sleep better at night! The first time I did it I slept through the night like a baby.
If you’d like to learn more about your Psoas, I recommend Liz Koch’s book The Psoas Muscle.
Will you give this a try? Which tip did you find most helpful?