How to stretch your psoas muscle
Stretching For Tight Hip Flexors
If you’re looking for ways to stretch your psoas, you’re in the right place. Here you’ll learn 3 different ways you can stretch this hip flexor; choose which option works best for you!
What is the psoas?
It’s important to know a little bit of information about the anatomy of your muscles so that you can get the most out of stretching or strengthening.
The psoas’ full name is iliopsoas, but it’s commonly shortened to psoas so we’ll stick with that for this post.
The psoas is one of the major muscles of our hips. This muscle is a hip flexor, meaning it lifts your leg up and in. If someone says they have ‘tight hip flexors,’ they are most likely referencing the psoas as it is the primary hip flexor of the body.
Although the psoas is a hip muscle, it also attaches into the lumbar spine (the low back). You can think of this muscle as not only a hip muscle, but also a muscle that is part of the ‘front’ of your lower back.
Due to this reason, it’s commonly tight in people experiencing lower back issues.
Sitting causes the psoas muscle to be in a shortened position so this muscle may become tight in people who sit a lot.
Keep in mind, a muscle can become both tight and weak, so you may need to do some strengthening in addition to stretching, but we’ll go into that in another post.
Where should you feel these stretches?
Based on the location of the psoas, you want to feel a stretch in your lower abdomen and in the front of your hip when performing the stretches below.
For example, if you’re stretching the right side, you should feel the stretch in the right lower abdomen and in the front of your right hip.
There’s another muscle in the body that is also a hip flexor called the rectus femoris. This muscle runs down the front of the thigh and is part of your quad. With the stretches that I’m sharing below, we are targeting the psoas, not the rectus femoris, but you may feel some stretching in the quad region if the rectus femoris is tight.
3 Ways To Stretch Your Psoas
Stretches For Tight Hip Flexors
1. Low Lunge Stretch
This stretch is really great at lengthening the psoas muscle but if you have difficulty kneeling, one of the other two stretches below might be better for you.
1. Kneel on the back knee and place the other leg in front with your foot on the floor.
2. Make sure that the front knee stays in good alignment by ensuring that the knee stays in line with the ankle.
3. I suggest using something for extra cushion under the knee on the ground. You can fold up a towel and place it under the back knee, or you could use a pillow or fold up a yoga mat.
4. Keep your torso up tall and stacked over the pelvis. Gently drop your tailbone down. (Do this instead of just leaning forward into the stretch. When you drop the tailbone down, this places the pelvis in the proper position to stretch the psoas.)
Hold 20-30 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side.
2. Stride Stretch
This stretch is like a modified version of the low lunge stretch.
1. Stand facing a wall.
2. Place hands on the wall.
3. Place one leg in front with the knee bent and the other leg behind you with the knee straight.
4. Keep both toes pointing forward.
5. You may feel a stretch in the calf of the back leg but to isolate this stretch to the psoas, drop the tailbone down.
Hold 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
3. Supine Hip Flexor Stretch
Just a quick note: I recommend performing this stretch on a higher surface. My couch (which you see in this photo) is pretty low and isn’t ideal for this stretch. A bed is most likely better for this stretch. My bed just happens to be low as well so I was kind of out of luck for a good photo spot.
1. Start by lying on your back. You’ll need to be pretty close to the edge of a bed or couch. If you’re too far away from the edge, your leg won’t be in the correct position for the stretch, but obviously, make sure your pelvis is still supported.
2. The leg closest to the edge is going to come off to stretch that side. The other leg should have your knee bent and foot flat on the surface. (Seen in option 1.)
3. You want the leg that is off the bed/couch to literally just hang there. (Really try to let it relax.) That’s why a higher surface would be better because you can really let the leg hang.
4. If this doesn’t feel like enough of a stretch, you can move to option 2. Here you hug the opposite knee into your chest to intensify this stretch.
Hold 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
So there you have 3 different ways you can stretch your psoas muscle!
You only need to choose one of these stretches; doing all three stretches in one session would be overkill.
There are so many options for stretching and strengthening different parts of the body. It’s important to take the time to find what works best for you.