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Pilates, Psoas and Pain

If you’ve become a regular at our South Bay Pilates studio, then you probably are already aware of the benefits that taking Pilates classes can have on your health and fitness, as well in pain reduction and management. What plays a major role in relieving back pain, tight hamstrings and quads, is the health of one of our most critical muscles, the psoas (pronounced SO-AZ).

Many tout the psoas as our most important “core” muscle. Located deep behind the abdominal muscles, it provides a shelf that supports our organs. Spanning the solar plexus to inner thigh, it is one of two muscles that connect your upper and lower body. With each step we take, it gives us a sort of internal massage and is essential for activities like walking and standing.

When our psoas is healthy and supple, it is always released and responds to our movements in a fight or flight manner to protect the spine from painful injuries such as herniated discs and punched nerves. Do your abs ever tighten when you’re frightened? That’s the psoas reacting to a message received from your nervous system.

When we are in a constant state of fight or flight, our deep muscles stay contracted. As you may have learned in Pilates classes, over time, contracted muscles eventually shorten and lose flexibility. If this happens to such a critical muscle that protects your spine, imagine what can occur—you may experience a strain in your lower back that prevents you from activities as simple as walking for days, if not weeks. Add to that all the sitting we do all day long, from driving to sitting at a desk, and you have muscles that our essential to stabilizing our body growing weak and losing elasticity. It’s a recipe for pain.

Pilates is essential for improving this type of pain and strengthening important core muscles such as the psoas. It strengthens, helps us stretch and elongates these muscles, so that our body and all its interconnected parts can be protected and healthy all the time. Whether you go to our South Bay Pilates studio, practice at home or attend workshops at your gym, a Pilates practice is going to help alleviate pain and reduce the chance of injuries that can seriously affect your quality of life.


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