The Psoas, Liz, and Me, the Queen of Down Under.

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!

When: Wednesday, August, 11th at 12PM PST (3PM EST) Liz is interviewing biomechanical scientist Katy Bowman (that’s me!) on pelvic integrity, sacrum positioning, and pelvic/ foot relationships. Plus, Where is the center of your Core? Find out!

How: Just register here.  It’s free, but you have to get the number to call in (you have to pay your own phone bill, sorry!)  Just go to this link here: Once you register you will get your log-in/call info.

Are you still interested in learning more on this?

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7 thoughts on “The Psoas, Liz, and Me, the Queen of Down Under.

  1. Interesting blog! I like the psoas description as ‘the womb of the kidney’. Interesting to note that in Chinese Medicine the kidney is the foundation of health and is always treated in low back problems. The Chinese kidney system includes the pelvis, low back, adrenals, bladder, and entire reproductive system. The kidney system (water element) is also largely responsible for the health of the bones in the body and deals with the emotions fear/security… Conincidentally, there is an herb called ‘Psoralea’ seed that tonifies the ‘kidney yang’ in traditional Chinese herbology…

  2. I’m almost scared to ask, but…there’s not enough womb in my schedule unfortunately (it’s fearfully tight). Will this interview be recorded psoas not to miss it if we’re otherwise engaged at that time?

    1. Lee –
      There will be a recording! I’ll post the link psoas to allow you to listen to it at a later time 🙂
      You’re hilarious…

  3. In my chiropractic practice, I find that the #1 reason for back pain is psoas muscle dysfunction. Ironic that I treat my patient’s backs while working on their fronts.

    Incidentally, the other most ubiquitous thing I find in my patients is adrenal stress syndrome. Though that is related to the psoas muscle dysfunction in many ways, it also related to so many other things (neuroendocrin-immune dysfunction), that James Wilson, ND calls Adrenal Stress Syndrome the “21st century disease.” I think the back and subsequent back pain end up being one of the last things in a huge chain of dysfunction that seems to start with what we put in our mouths…

  4. I am a sponge right now in that I am trying to soak up all I possibly can on this subject since being recently diag w CPPS. It is the one of the worst things that has ever hsppened to my body & mind…

    Glad to find this.

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