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  • The Core Muscle

    LIZ KOCH – Special to the Sentinel
    Article Launched: 04/09/2002 3:00:00 AM PDT

    psoas-09The day my mom went in the hospital for her hip replacement, the doctor had already performed eight of the same operations. Some 65 percent of us will have hip socket problems. Back and knee problems are as common as the cold.

    So what gives? Is it true the body wears out like an old car part?

    Or is that mindset a common but limited perspective of the healing capabilities of the human body? The industrial revolution set in motion an idea that people were like machines. Like a clockwork toy, the body was seen as capable of being taken apart, parts replaced, and the body put back together again. Although this perspective has produced powerful life-saving procedures, the view also limits the wonders of the human body and life itself.

    Broadening our understanding of the body as a living system shifts the paradigm of health. The same self-healing possibilities that repair a cut or heal a bruise are always working to self-correct every system within us

    Understanding that we are interfering with the body’s capability to self-correct shifts the perspective from having the problem fixed to the ancient concept of prevention. Beyond curtailing discomfort, pain and illness, prevention means inhabiting a joyful body. Why then not take the steps to prevent wear and tear?

    A vital key for prevention and igniting our self-correcting potential for health is a muscle called the iliopsoas.Most people have never heard of it. If you ask people, “What is a psoas?” you will get some pretty funny answers. Yet getting to know this one muscle can have far-reaching results for reducing wear and tear on hip joints, knees and spine. A supple, dynamic psoas reduces stress, enhances digestion and eliminates fatigue.

    Sound too good to be true? Here are a few facts about the psoas that might encourage you to discover yours”

    The core muscle of the body, the psoas is a guy wire that attaches along the front of the spine and maintains fluid motion while walking. It is the only muscle to attach the spine to the leg as it spans from solar plexus to upper thigh. All problems associated with the lower back, hip sockets, knees and ankles can be greatly improved by learning to release the psoas muscle of any unnecessary tension and to engage it properly when sitting and walking.

    But the psoas is so much more than a muscle. It is a shelf that provides support for all the abdominal organs. It is a hydraulic pump that (in combination with the diaphragm) massages the internal organs, viscera and spine. And as part of the fear reflex (the flee/fight survival mechanism), it has everything to do with gut feelings and what you know to be true for you. All core fears are housed in the psoas muscle.

    Like the infomercial products that clean everything with from car parts to fine china, learning about your psoas muscle may help just about everything. Gaining a functioning psoas relieves a wide range of symptoms: menstrual cramps, water retention, sleeping difficulties, foot rotations, and recovering from deep-seated fears and trauma. Most importantly, learning the many ways to keep the muscle released and supple helps to engage the self-corrective system so vital for ease of movement and self-expression. Such a simple idea may sound too good to be true, but some of life’s greatest treasures are just that simple

    Liz Koch is the author of “The Psoas Book,” a comprehensive guide to the iliopsoas muscle and its profound affect on the body/mind/emotions. She is also the education coordinator for the Way of Life health lecture series.