Small and Mighty: The Roles of the Piriformis and Psoas Muscles in Posture

There are upwards of 650 different muscles in your body, all working hard to support you and help you function. They range in size and shape, as well as what they’re responsible for. And while you’re likely familiar with the popular ones like biceps and quadriceps, there are countless others that are even more critical than you might ever imagine.

A prime example of two overlooked yet highly important muscles are the piriformis and the psoas. These muscles are two of the three that are responsible for connecting your spine to your legs (along with gluteus maximus). Keeping them toned and strong is absolutely essential in helping you maintain posture and lumbar support.

At Ideal Spine, we work hard to educate patients on the vital role their muscles play in overall spine health. In many cases, for patients with chronic low back, hip, and thigh pain, an introduction to the piriformis and psoas is long overdue.

The role of the piriformis and psoas

To understand what makes the piriformis and psoas muscles so important and vital to our everyday movements, it’s important to understand first what duties they have.

The piriformis muscle is minuscule, located near the sacrum. It assists in hip extension and flexion, supporting lateral rotation. This muscle is engaged in a wide variety of situations, including basic walking. When weak or compromised, a person is liable to experience pain throughout the low back, hips, and groin. Problems with the piriformis are even categorized by their own condition: piriformis syndrome.

The psoas are also integral for stability and lower body movement. In addition, psoas muscles are responsible for upright posture, helping to create the natural lumbar curve as they connect your spine to your lower body. When weak or injured, psoas muscles tend to cause lumbar pain and chronic tightness. Just like with your piriformis muscles, we rely on psoas for walking, running and other upright movement.

Maintaining good posture

While primarily responsible for assisting with dynamic movement, the piriformis and psoas muscles also play a role in proper posture. Maintaining the strength and integrity of these muscles means contributing to a healthier posture and, in turn, better spine health.

A strong piriformis will make sitting easier. In fact, a weakened piriformis muscle is likely to get worse with a sedentary lifestyle, since compression of the sciatic nerve is common. If your piriformis is strong, you’ll be able to offset the flexion of quadriceps, which might otherwise compromise hamstrings and the low back. As you go from sitting to standing, your piriformis will be able to better handle the demands of your body.

Likewise, strong psoas muscles make for great standing posture. As mentioned, these muscles will help induce the natural lumbar curve of the spine and can lend strength to the core in a way that further supports the spine.

Stronger muscles; better posture

Just like you might strengthen your bicep to be able to lift heavier weights, it’s important to strengthen your piriformis and psoas to incite better posture. Keeping these muscles loose and limber, as well as strong and conditioned, will help you sit, stand, walk, and run with better posture – not to mention less of an impact on your spine.

Ideal Spine is happy to educate patients on the role of their piriformis and psoas, and will take the time to help develop a plan that strengthens these muscles to promote positive posture.

Chiropractic BioPhysics® corrective care trained Chiropractors are located throughout the United States and in several international locations. CBP providers have helped thousands of people throughout the world realign their spine back to health, and eliminate a source of chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, chronic headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, and a wide range of other health conditions. If you are serious about your health and the health of your loved ones, contact a CBP trained provider today to see if you qualify for care. The exam and consultation are often FREE. See www.CBPpatient.com for providers in your area.