Learn 3 different ways to stretch your psoas!
What is the psoas?
It’s important to know a little but of information about the anatomy of your muscles so that you can get the most out of stretching or strengthening.
The psoas muscle (full name is iliopsoas but we’ll just shorten to psoas) is one of the major muscles of our hips. It’s a hip flexor, meaning it lifts your leg up and in.
Although it’s a hip muscle, the psoas muscle also attaches into the lumbar spine (the low back).
Due to this reason, it’s commonly tight in people experiencing lower back issues. It also tends to be tight in people dealing with pelvic health issues.
Sitting causes the psoas muscle to be in a shortened position so this muscle is also commonly tight in people who sit a lot. Click here for my FREE 5 day program to reverse the effects of sitting.
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 this stretch?
Based on the location of the psoas, when you are stretching this muscle you want to feel the stretch in the lower abdomen. For example, if you are stretching the right side, you should feel the stretch in the right lower abdomen.
You may also feel some stretching in the front region of the hip.
There is another muscle in the body that is also a hip flexor called the rectus femoris. This muscle runs down the front of the thigh. With the stretches I am going to show you, 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.
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. You may want to fold up a towel and place it under the back knee for extra cushion.
4. Keep your torso up tall and stacked over the pelvis and 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 in this photo is pretty low and isn’t ideal for this stretch. You can do this stretch lying on your bed as well.
1. Start by lying on your back 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. Make sure the other leg has your knee bent and foot flat on the surface.
3. You want the leg toward the edge to come off the bed/couch and just let it hang there. (Really try to let it relax.)
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 options for stretching your psoas.
There are so many options for stretching and strengthening different parts of the body and it’s important to find what works best for you.
Enjoy stretching your psoas! 😃
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