Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you’re hammering the core exercises every day? It’s a common myth that bulging belly is due to weak abdominal muscles.
The real cause is likely to be tight psoas muscles, which cause the lower back to curve pushing out the stomach. When the psoas works properly it pulls the abdomen back tucking the tummy in, giving you a strong, flat stomach.
Your psoas is intimately involved in the fight or flight response of the body. This response can curl you into a protective ball or prepare you to jump or run to avoid harm. And since the psoas is so intimately involved in such basic physical and emotional reactions, a chronically tightened psoas continually signals your body that you’re in danger.
When the body is in danger the SNS activates the body’s natural survival response, which will ultimately exhaust the adrenal glands and depleting the immune system as long as the body is considered in danger.
Unfortunately tight hips will give the brain biofeedback similar to that of danger. When that feedback is given back from the hips to the mind the body will subconsciously stay in that ‘survival’ state.
Again, the body is designed to survive and the body’s natural response is to protect it so what happens to our body when faced with danger? It wants to curl up into that ball to protect its vital organs.
Think about this for a minute. If the physical body is constantly placed in a curled position, similar to how we sit in a chair, the mind will respond to the body position as it would danger. Do you see the parallel? In other words, when we sit all day our hips shorten pulling us into the fetal position and it’s this fetal position that the brain associates with survival.
Now, let’s look at how detrimental this is when we are in this survival position… the adrenal glands become overworked and at some point they will become exhausted.
Our adrenal glands govern our stress response, by secreting hormones relative to our stress levels. They actually help control many hormonal cycles and functions in our body. When the adrenal glands are overworked, the body prepares for disaster by storing fat and calories.
Adrenal imbalance can cause a number of issues, including an expanded waistline. The science behind it is quite fascinating. Normally when we begin to feel hungry, our blood sugar drops and the brain sends a message to the adrenal glands to release cortisol. Cortisol activates glucose, fats, and amino acids to keep our body fueled with energy until we eat. Cortisol maintains blood sugar levels, and insulin helps our cells absorb glucose. When we have long-term stress (sitting for hours is considered stress), both insulin and cortisol remain elevated in the blood, and the extra glucose is stored as fat–mostly in the abdomen.
In modern-day thinking we most often associated stress to our emotions, yet few of us really understand the intense effect it has on us physically. The most frustrating way that it affects us is by storing any calories that are not absolutely necessary, and most often the storage occurs in the abdominal area and thighs.
The real problem here is that these physiological responses take place whether the threat is real or not. Because most of the everyday stressors we experience on a day-to-day basis, like sitting, don’t require the true fight or flight response, we are opening up our body to do something that it really doesn’t need to be doing. And since most of the time there is no imminent danger sitting at a desk we really don’t need the extra calories our body is so efficiently storing in preparation for survival.
See the connection?
The psoas is more important than you think.
But what does this mean on a grand scale for overall health?
Many consider the psoas the most important muscle in the body and to disregard the role this powerful player has in the body is foolish. Everyone wants to live healthy and happy, but most become stuck in their normal routines without wanting to make change. Not that this is a bad thing, but it can become a bad thing when the normal we have created establishes unhealthy habits. And the unfortunate part is that the habits we have created will become our stumbling block in life.
I write this not to discourage you but to give you hope and to show you a way to improve your quality of life, improve your performance, reduce pain and discomfort and to lose that bulging belly that has been bothering us for years.