Stretches for the Psoas

Last month, we featured the psoas (hip flexor) muscle and some of its’ mysteries. If the psoas muscle goes into spasm frequently enough, over time the muscle will take on a shortened position. A shortened psoas will not extend or lengthen to accommodate changes in position and movement. This pattern of muscular shortening can be experienced as hip or back pain often during the transition from sitting to standing or from standing to walking.

Here are some psoas stretches from several different disciplines. Always stay inside the pain free range.

  1. Hip Circles – This Yi Jin Jing Qigong exercise is a wonderful hip opener and stretches all the muscles of the hip including the psoas.
  • Stand erect with the feet apart and parallel.
  • Choose a point ahead of you to focus upon.
  • Place the palm of your hands on the small of your back and with the middle finger tips touching.
  • Bring the pelvis forward (12 o’clock and move counter clockwise through the clock until you’ve made a complete circle.
  • As you circle, breath in as you move your hips back and breath out as you move your hips forwards.
  • Repeat up to 12 times, than reverse to a clockwise motion.

  1. Pelvic Tilt – This subtle movement helps you become more in touch with the muscles of the pelvis and low back.
  • Ly on your back with your knees bent.
  • Slowly flatten you back on the floor by gently tightening your abdominal muscles and turning your coccyx bone (tailbone) slightly up towards the ceiling. Your buttocks may lift slightly.
  • Than, slowly release the abdominal muscles and tailbone and return to the resting position.
  • Slowly repeat.
  1. Warrior Pose 1 – This standing yoga pose is a good hip flexor and adductor stretch.
  • Hold this pose for up to a minute, than reverse with the right foot forward.
  • Look straight ahead at a focal point on the horizon.
  • Extend your arms up toward the ceiling with palms facing each other.
  • Maintain an erect posture.
  • Bend the front knee and keep the back leg relatively straight.
  • Keep your pelvis pointing towards the front foot.
  • Stand with the left foot in front of the right (as though you were taking a big step.
  1. Bridge Pose –This back bend stretches the hip flexors, low back, thoracic spine and neck.
  • Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. You can place a folded blanket under your shoulders to minimize stress to your neck.
  • Gently raise the buttocks towards the ceiling. Keep the feet and thighs parallel. Clasp your hands together under the buttocks and reach down towards your feet.
  • Gently turn your tailbone upwards and lengthen the back of the neck.
  • Hold for up to one minute, than slowly uncurl the spine, one vertebrae at a time until you reach the position of rest.

Hip flexor problems can be debilitating. These stretches are not a comprehensive treatment plan for a serous psoas spasm. In our Physical Therapy practice, we have used both Rolfing and Five Element Acupuncture to help patients recover from a shortened psoas.

The contents in this article are not meant to be diagnostic or prescriptive. Hip flexor problems are often complex and a physician should always be consulted before choosing a course of treatment.

Also Read:

Rolfing, Back Pain and Psoas

7 Stretches To Do At Your Desk