By Amy Price PhD
The psoas muscle starts in the lower back at which point the paired psoas muscles act as anchors on either side of the spine. These muscles wrap around the pelvic area attaching at the knobby part of the hip with several strong tendons. The psoas muscles are considered to be crucial among the hip flexor muscles. Hip flexors allow people to bend their bodies into their hips and to pull their hips into their bodies. Low back or hip pain can come from contracted psoas muscles which fail to provide support. They can gently stretch to elongate their muscles and make them more flexible, as well as seeking medical attention if the pain continues, grows worse, or changes. Engaging in a regular physical fitness routine which includes stretching such as Pilates or Yoga will help to keep the psoas muscle aligned, strong, and flexible, along with other vital muscles of the body.
A gentle psoas stretch, involves lying on your back on the floor. Make sure that your pelvic position is neutral, your shoulder blades are flush with the floor, with your spine and head aligned, forming a straight, smooth line. Gently bring one knee up to your chest while extending the other leg along the floor, breathing deeply and evenly. Hold the position for 10 breaths before switching sides, and repeat 3 times. You should feel a gentle stretching action but not pain
For a deeper psoas stretch, adopt a lunging position with one knee forward, forming a 90 degree angle, if possible, between the hip and the calf. Extend the other leg behind you, kneeling slightly, and lower yourself slowly into the stretch, which you will feel in the front of the hip. Make sure you don’t increase the curve in your back as you come forward (the Psoas connects the back with the front of the hip). Sometimes it helps to tighten the stomach muscles as you come
Please Consult Your medical professional before stretching the psoas, In some cases psoas stretches can be counterproductive
Richard Don Tigney referenced below states, “Stretching the psoas is usually counter productive as a dysfunction of the SIJ will cause the psoas to become tight while correction of the dysfunction will loosen it. If you stretch the psoas you will increase the dysfunction in anterior rotation of the psoas.
Similarly the SIJ dysfunction will cause a vertical shear on the piriformis at the S3 segment. Correction of the dysfunction corrects and relieves the vertical shear. The piriformis, the G. max and the iliacus all have origins on both the sacrum and the ilia. The shear is the cause of the piriformis syndrome. Similarly the sacral origin of the G. Max will tend to separate from its ilial origin and the ilial origin of the iliacus m will tend to separate from a small slip on the sacrum.(1)
Periarticular injections are superior to intra-articular injections for diagnosis of SIJ dysfunction.(2)Murakami
Fukushima (3) found that many times cervical strain will not release until the SIJ is corrected.”
1. DonTigny, RL: A detailed and critical biomechanical analysis of the sacroiliac joints and relevant kinesiology: the implications for lumbopelvic function and dysfunction. In Vleeming A, Mooney V, Stoeckart R: Movement, Stability& Lumbopelvic Pain: Integration of Research and Therapy. 2nd edition. Edinburgh, Churchill Livingstone, 2007, Chapter 18, pp 265-278
2. Murakami E, Tanaka Y, Aizawa T, Ishizuka M, Kokubun S: Effect of periarticular and intraarticular lidocaine injections for sacroiliac joint pain: Prospective comparative study.J of Ortho Science 12(3):274-280, May 2007
3. Fukushima M: Radiographic findings before and after manual therapy for acute neck pain. International Musculoskeletal Medicine, 30(1): 1-19, 2008