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If you’re looking to alleviate tight hip flexors, reduce lower back pain, and improve your overall flexibility, then incorporating psoas stretching exercises into your routine can be incredibly beneficial.
When your psoas muscle becomes tight or is strained, it can lead to a range of issues to the lower body, including low back pain, hip pain and even discomfort to your abdominal muscles.
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A weak psoas muscle can also impact your range of motion which may affect activities such as walking or running.
Fortunately, there are a variety of psoas muscle stretching exercises and some low impact yoga poses that you can do to help alleviate psoas tightness.
The Importance Of Psoas Muscles
The psoas muscle, which is located to the lumbar vertebrae of your lower spine, is one of the most important muscles in your body.
Also referred to as the iliopsoas muscle, it’s a deep core muscle comprising of two parts: the psoas major and the iliacus muscle.
They are a major muscle group located deep within your core.
This paraspinal muscle plays a vital role in stabilizing your spine and pelvis whilst playing an important part in overall back health.
They are considered primary hip flexors, responsible for bending your hip joint and lifting your leg towards your body.
The muscle itself originates from the lumbar spine and inserts into the inner thigh bone (top of the femur).
The psoas is the strongest of the hip flexor muscles and has several actions and functions including the following:
- It connects the upper body to the lower body.
- When sitting it helps to stabilize your lower spine.
- It works with the iliopsoas muscle to aid with hip flexion.
- It helps to stabilize the hip joint.
- Assists with lateral motions of the body (side to side movements).
- Helps you maintain good posture by stabilizing the core.
Stretching and strengthening your psoas muscles is important for maintaining a healthy spine and pelvis.
Regularly performing the exercises suggested in this article can help to improve your range of motion, making everyday activities easier to undertake whilst minimizing your risk of injury.
What Are the Symptoms Of A Tight Psoas Muscle?
If you experience pain or tightness in your lower back, hips, knees, or pelvis, you may have an extremely tight psoas muscle.
When the psoas muscle is tight, it can result in chronic pain and discomfort.
For a proper diagnosis you should always seek the advice from a medical professional such as a physical therapist.
They may ask you to perform various tests such as the supine to sit test, to help determine the cause of your back and hip pain.
However, there are some common symptoms to be aware of including the following:
When the psoas muscle is tight this cause discomfort and pain to the lower back region, particularly around the lumbar spine.
As the psoas muscle attaches to the front of your hip, if it becomes tight, it can lead to hip pain, especially in the front of the hip or groin area.
Decreased Range of Motion
When the psoas becomes tight this can restrict the movement of your hip joint.
This could affect your flexibility and limit your range of motion.
Moreover, this may lead to certain daily activities becoming more challenging such as walking, running, or climbing stairs.
The psoas muscle connects the lumbar spine to the pelvis.
Because of this, tightness to the muscle can result in pain or discomfort in the pelvic area.
As the psoas is a deep muscle any tightness can cause problems to your core muscles and even result in pain which radiates down your leg.
A tight psoas muscle can affect your posture, leading to anterior pelvic tilt.
This can cause an exaggerated curve to your lower back, which can contribute to back pain and other postural issues.
The psoas is relatively close to organs within the abdominal cavity.
If the psoas becomes tight or is strained, it may irritate and put pressure on the digestive organs.
This may lead to symptoms such as indigestion, bloating or constipation.
As the psoas major is connected to your diaphragm, when it becomes tight it can impact your ability to breathe deeply.
This is because is restricts the movement of the diaphragm allowing only for shallow breathes.
If you find it difficult to take a deep breath and fill both your lungs and diaphragm, this could be due to a tight psoas.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is important to stretch and strengthen your psoas muscle to relieve pain and prevent further injury.
What Causes A Tight Psoas Muscle?
Typically, your psoas muscle can become tight or weak due to the following:
- Side sleeping – If you tend to sleep on your side this can put your legs in an awkward position causing tightness.
- Sitting too long – If you spend long periods sitting this can cause the muscle to shorten and become weak, this in turn leads to tightness.
- Overuse injury – If you partake in lots of running or cycling this may lead to overuse of the psoas.
Easy Psoas Stretching Exercises
Stretching and strengthening your psoas muscle is important to maintain hip mobility, alleviate tight hips and help to prevent pain.
Below are some exercises that you can do to help stretch and strengthen your psoas muscle.
Kneeling Lunge Stretch
The kneeling lunge stretch is particularly beneficial for those of you who spend much of your day sitting at a desk.
It’s also easy to perform.
- Start in a kneeling position.
- Take your left foot and place it on the ground in front of you.
- Your left leg should be at a 90-degree angle with the knee directly above your ankle.
- From here tilt the front of your hips up whilst tucking your glutes under slightly.
- Lean forward so that your left knee tracks just over the toes.
- You should feel a stretch to the right hip flexor. Hold this position for 60 seconds.
- Now switch to work the opposite side.
Seated Butterfly Stretch
This exercise is excellent for opening up the hips and helping to improve mobility to the hip joints.
- Begin in a seated position with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
- Now rotate your legs outwards so your knees drop towards the ground until the soles of your feet are pressing together.
- How far you drop your knees to the ground will depend on your flexibility.
- Take hold of your feet with both hands and slowly lean forwards.
- You should feel a good stretch to your inner thigh muscles.
- The further forward you lean, the greater the stretch.
Reclined Hero Pose
Often performed in yoga practice, the reclined hero pose is a challenging movement that requires good mobility to your ankle and hip joints.
To make it easier you could place a bolster cushion or two behind you to support your spine.
- Start in a kneeling position where you sit on, or in between your feet.
- Place your hands just behind you resting on your palms with fingers facing forwards.
- Move one forearm down to the ground followed by the other, your back should be moving closer to the floor.
- Place your hands on your belly and hold this position for around a minute.
- You should feel a stretch to your quads and hip extensor muscles.
It’s important that the pigeon pose exercise is performed slowly and with control to prevent injury when initiating the stretch.
When performed properly, it’s a great movement for stretching out the major hip flexors.
- Begin in tabletop position so that your hands are under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
- Take your right foot and cross it just in front of your left knee. Your right lower leg should be resting on the ground.
- Carefully edge your left leg backwards to straighten it out whilst keeping your right leg in position.
- Stop when you feel a good stretch to your hips and hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Once complete, repeat on the other side.
The main muscles worked during the boat pose include the core muscles, lower back and the pelvis.
It’s a good and easy exercise to help strengthen the hip flexors and abdominals.
- Start in a seated position with your knees bent and arms behind you resting on your palms.
- Keep your chest pushed up and draw your belly button in.
- Raise both feet off the ground until your lower legs are parallel to the ground and toes pointing forwards.
- To make it more challenging, position your arms straight out in front of you and in line with your legs.
- For further progression you could straighten your legs.
- Lift your chest and look upwards.
- Hold this position for 60 seconds.
Warrior II Pose
The Warrior II pose is an excellent way of opening up your hips and helps to enhance your balance and stability.
- Start in a standing position.
- Take a large step backwards with one foot so you’re now in a high lunge position.
- Open your hips and place your rear foot at a 90-degree angle, keep your front foot facing forwards.
- Sink a little lower if you can so that the knee of your front foot is directly above the ankle.
- Keeping your head and chest up, extend both arms out horizontally and keep your shoulders relaxed.
- Turn your head to the side.
- Maintain this position for 60 seconds.
Lying Straight Leg Raise
- Start by lying down on an exercise mat with legs extended and arms down by your sides.
- Brace your core and raise one leg straight up until your toes point towards the ceiling.
- Pause for a couple of seconds before lowering the leg back to the starting position.
- Repeat with the other leg.
- Complete 2 sets of between 8 and 10 repetitions.
Incorporating psoas stretching exercises into your daily routine can have numerous benefits for your overall health and well-being.
By taking just a few minutes each day to stretch your psoas muscle, you can improve your posture, reduce lower back pain, and increase your flexibility.
Remember, there are many different types of psoas stretches to choose from, so it’s important to find the ones that work best for you.
Experiment with different stretches and listen to your body to determine which ones feel the most effective.
So why not start incorporating psoas stretching exercises into your daily routine today?
Your body will thank you for it!