Psoas muscle involvement in fearful situations

The Role of the Psoas muscle in the fear response

The use of the 5 pointed star energy pattern in Polarity bodywork is crucial to the resolution of many problems that beset people. We know that it can bring up deep seated emotions, influence the digestive system and pelvic problems, as well as relieve shoulder and neck problems, but one of its other affects is to release the psoas muscle.

The psoas, is a large muscle approximately 16 inches long. In fact there are two psoas muscles, each attaching on either side of the lumbar spine. The attachment begins at T12 and then further attachments occur at each of the five lumbar vertebrae. Both psoas muscles then pass through the pelvis, over the ball and socket joint of the hip and then attach to the inner side of the lesser trocanter of the femor. Such a large and important muscle rightly deserves our attention as bodyworkers. 

The psoas is basically a hip flexor (see diagram above) yet it also supports the free swing of the leg in walking and plays an important role in weight transference through the trunk of the body to the legs and feet. As well as these functions it has a reciprocal relationship with the erector spinea muscles and therefore can be at the root of many back pain problems.

As a core muscle , it also functions to stimulate the viscera and massage the spinal column with every step that we take. However there is one instance when this muscle has the ability to literally stop us in our tracks. That instance is the experience of fear!

The psoas muscles contracts whenever the fear reflex fires. It forms a primitive defensive posture that brings the extremities of the body together to protect the soft vulnerable parts such as the eyes, the genitals, the vital organs and the head. It is as if the body wants to roll into a ball.

If the psoas does not release after the fearful situation has passed, the feeling of anxiety becomes locked into the body where it vibrates in the nervous system and can be easily evoked in other less dangerous situations. Indeed it can be source of many panic attacks where the person is aware of the suddenly onset of anxiety but does not know what triggers it.


When the psoas is released by working the lower points of the five pointed star over the pouparts ligament in the pelvis, people can report feelings of fear and unrest. Often this is accompanied by trembling in the lower half of the body. The pelvis may also jerk uncontrollably and the legs jerk or vibrate. It is important to encourage this release even though it may be temporary somewhat disturbing. As the psoas continues to release the pelvis extends and a strong flow of energy, experienced as excitation occurs. This sensation too should be encouraged as it will eventually become an all body sensation. The release can bring up feelings of vulnerability in the person accompanied by associations and attitudes that they have become conditioned to.

For these reasons the contact at the base of the star, though deep, should proceed slowly and with sensitivity. A release signals the first sprouting of the seeds of change and the re-establishing of long lost ties with sensation - sensation that we have repressed  through a life time of the need to control ourselves.


Psoas muscle

Psoas Stretch

The most basic psoas stretch, and one of the most gentle, involves lying on your back on the floor. Make sure that your pelvic position is neutral, your scapulae are flush with the floor, and that your spine and head are in perfect alignment, forming a straight, smooth line. Gently bring one knee up to your chest while extending the other leg along the floor, breathing deeply and evenly. Hold the position for several breaths before switching sides, and repeat several times.

For a deeper psoas stretch, adopt a lunging position with one knee forward, forming a 90 degree angle, if possible, between the hip and the calf. Extend the other leg behind you, kneeling slightly, and lower yourself slowly into the stretch, which you will feel in the front of the hip. Keep your spine perfectly straight while performing this stretch, and do not allow the knee of your forward leg to overhang your toes

psoas stretch.jpg

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