David Goggins on Stretching and Releasing a Tight Psoas Muscle
David Goggins is one of the most remarkable athletes in modern history. His combined military career and achievements in the world of grueling ultra-endurance challenges read almost as if they’re a work of fiction.
Aside from his notorious mental resiliency and physical capacity, one of the most fascinating perspectives from Goggins is his philosophy on stretching.
This article covers David Goggins’ dramatic shift in perspective on stretching, how a little-known muscle called the psoas fundamentally changed his athletic performance and mental state, and stretches and tools you can use to release a tight psoas yourself.
Who Is David Goggins?
David Goggins is a renowned ultra-endurance athlete, sought-after public speaker, and has had an extensive career in multiple United States Special Operations forces.
Goggins’ journey in endurance challenges first began in his initial attempts to become a United States Navy SEAL, where he is the only person to have gone through BUD/s three times (and once with a broken leg.) After graduating from Class 235 in 2001, he was assigned to SEAL Team 5 and served in the military for 20 years.
And if three Hell Weeks and a career in the SEAL Teams weren’t enough. Goggins is also the only member of the United States Military to complete SEAL training, Air Force Tactical Air Controller training, and the United States Army Ranger School where he graduated as Enlisted Honor Man.
Goggins’ drive for endurance racing began as a way to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation after several of his friends were killed in action during Operation Red Wings.
Since then, Goggins has completed over 60 ultra-endurance races, including the Badwater 135, Leadville Trail 100, Hurt 100, Western States, and the iconic Moab 240. And to prove that his mental resiliency isn’t limited to grueling long-distance running, he has also held the world record for pull-ups completing 4,030 in 17 hours.
Learn about the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and donate here.
David Goggins Mentality on Stretching
David Goggins used to think stretching was a scam. But experiencing the changes in his biomechanics and mood for himself led to a complete 180-degree change in his philosophy on stretching. Now he fits in a two-hour stretching session into his routine every single night before bed.
During an interview with Albert Preciado, Goggins outlines his experience and his body’s reaction before he implemented his strict stretching regimen:
“My body was so tight. And when your body is tight, it gives your mind the illusion that you’re under stress. So when your mind has the illusion it’s under stress, it then starts to work like it’s in stress mode. Therefore, igniting all of these different endocrine systems like your adrenal glands […] tricking you to say ‘fight or flight, we’re in it right now’ because you’re so tight.”
Stress is a response that needs to be controlled as an athlete. Not only does it affect your mindset and demeanor, but it also creates a cascade of physiological responses that can stall both your performance and recovery.
The Importance of Stretching for Athletes
Aside from the hormonal responses from the stress that a tight body produces, athletes have numerous performance benefits that stem from stretching and restoring your range of motion.
If you’re doing squats in the gym, any inhibitions in your range of motion will make the exercise less effective at activating the muscles you set out to train. Additionally, you limit power output and put yourself at a higher risk of injury.
For runners, tight muscles limit your biomechanics and ultimately add time to every mile. Speed is an equation of stride length multiplied by stride frequency. Opening up your stride through proper muscle flexibility makes up an entire half of increasing your running speed.
The agility required by any sport also relies on the flexibility and mobility of your muscles and joints to allow you to move effectively. Making stretching an essential staple in both maximizing athletic potential and mitigating time spent out of training from injury.
David Goggins on Stretching the Psoas Muscle
During his numerous podcast interviews, Goggins has discussed the discovery of the impacts a tight psoas muscle had on his athletic performance and mental state.
“So as I started stretching out, I started loosening up this muscle called the psoas muscle. And the psoas muscle is almost like the soul of the body. So it almost gives your body and your mind permission to relax. And there is no growth in a stressed mind. The growth comes in a relaxed mind. Therefore, the thoughts really flood in. So for me, I become more inspired by simply stretching. And not only that, I’m in the best shape of my life because all of those tight muscles weren’t allowing me to run properly. Everything was bound up, so now my gait is longer. Even in the gym, I’m stronger because I’m not all bound up. Everything is opened up to the point that my muscles work freely.”
Releasing a tight psoas muscle was a fundamental shift in Goggins’ athletic performance and dramatically shifted his initial disbelief in the effectiveness of stretching. Not only did it bring improvements to his speed and strength in training and competition, but it also improved his stress levels and mental state.
Goggins’ belief that growth comes from a relaxed mind has a lot of merits. Recovery from intense training sessions requires a proper hormonal balance to maximize the regeneration of muscle and tissues. Additionally, a calm mind is crucial for developing the mental resiliency needed for optimizing athletic performance and pushing through high-intensity situations where your mind wants to give up.
Best Ways to Release a Tight Psoas
The psoas is a fantastic place to start if you’re looking to expand your stretching regimen. It’s chronically tight due to our modern lifestyles having us in a seated position for long periods of time and provides very apparent results to your athletic performance when it’s released.
- With your feet hip-width apart, step one foot back into a lunge position.
- Ensure you step back far enough so that your front knee is directly over the ankle while maintaining your foot flat on the floor.
- Extending back through your heel, lift the back of the thigh upward while drawing your chest and naval forward.
- Keep your hips level and draw your shoulder blades down.
- Hold the stretch for up to 10 full breaths and switch sides.
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground about hip-width apart.
- Lift your hips off of the ground through the glutes while drawing in your abs to keep your back from over-extending.
- Hold for 15-30 Seconds.
Side-Lying Psoas Stretch:
- Lie on your side with your lower leg bent at the knee.
- Prop yourself up with your bottom forearm, similar to a side-plank position.
- Grab the bent leg and draw the heel inwards towards your glutes with your upper arm.
- Hold the stretch for up to 10 full breaths and switch sides.
Psoas Release Tools
The Pso-Rite works by sustaining pressure on the psoas muscle. This sustained pressure alleviates muscle tension, increases blood flow, and releases the adhesions between muscle fibers.
Traditional self-myofascial release tools like foam rollers aren’t equipped for reaching the psoas muscle. The Pso-Rite mimics the hands of a massage therapist to allow for deeper sustained pressure in the hard-to-reach region of the iliopsoas. Making it a phenomenal tool for releasing a tight psoas.
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