Friday, September 20, 2013

Psoas-Nasal Connection..?

Just a short post on an odd and interesting occurrence I have noted twice now..  Often when I find myself up at 1am, and not sleepy, I will have a movement exploration session (with lights off).  Twice now, I have decided to explore stretching of the deep hip flexor (psoas) muscle, via a number of methods.

Getting a stretch directly in the psoas is no small feat, and as I have mentioned in another blog, people often put themselves into poses/postures that should stretch the psoas, theoretically; but in actuality they have little stretch in it and no sensory awareness of it.  This was what I was doing for a very long time, too.  A true psoas stretch is an odd and somewhat confronting sensation (and it can be a very strong sensation).  It feels fantastic after it has been carefully stretched (passive, or better yet, PNF style).

Besides the wide-ranging postural, movement and gait benefits that are felt after this (or I should say, that I personally feel after I do it), I noticed a strange connection.  On the first night I really 'got into' psoas, and felt it tangibly relax (PNF style), I had a moderately strong head cold and blockages in both nasal passages.  After the post-isometric contraction relaxation of the deep hip flexor had happened, and I was in the 'relax and re-pattern' phase of the stretch, my nasal passage on the side of the hip flexor being stretched dramatically cleared.  Hmmm..  interesting.  I stretched the second side and, sure enough, the other nostril cleared.

Two nights ago, I was up at 1am again.  I decided to do some late night deep hip flexor exploration and stretching-with-awareness.  This time I had no cold.  What I did notice was a very large, tangible increase in my awareness of the breath going in and out of the my nostril, nose and nasopharynx!

Two attempts does not make anything conclusive, but it is interesting enough for me to continue to play around with.  If it turns out to be something, the method of its working is an interesting thing to contemplate.. does it work via freeing the movement of lumbar spine (thus whole spine) up; is it somehow linked to the nerves of the lumbar plexus being freed.. or something more reflexive.  First I need to continue to observe if it works every time. 

No nasal sensory enhancement from rectus femoris dominant hip flexor stretches, no matter how good a stretch I get from them (and they are great stretches for other reasons).  Simon Thakur's (Ancestral Movement) comment's from facebook were:

" ..could be some sort of stimulation of the autonomic nervous system. Either the sympathetic trunk in the deep abdomen, or the sacral branches of the parasympathetic system. Either way, there's a reasonable amount of evidence linking breath flow in each nostril to relative dominance of the opposite cerebral hemisphere..."

Do, please, let me know if you try it and get similar (or different) results.


  1. How do you recommend stretching the psoas?

  2. Here is a video I made of one way I have personally found stretches my psoas quite well:

    As I mention in the video, and elsewhere, stretching the psoas requires quite a high degree of body awareness and muscular control; and quite possibly a supple enough rectus femoris in some positions. Once you have the sensory-motor awareness of the psoas, you can even use basic hip flexor positions to stretch it, but without that awareness there will be no, or little, stretch. D

  3. Here's the deep front line from Anatomy Trains:

    Goes from the toes to the tongue through the psoas, diaphragm, and lungs.

    Easier breathing seems like it would make sense.

  4. Thanks for the link Josh! Anatomy Trains is one of my favorite books, I'll write about the DFL, and also the yogic perspectives, in part two. I want to play around with it a bit more first. I can feel some of those other locations doing interesting things during the psoas stretch (as I keep part of my focus on what is happening in my whole body). Cheers, D

  5. "Extremely interesting Dave. I look forward to the presentation of this at the NW.Why don't we add some specific fascial release methods as a partner assist?

    k "


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