Muscle of the Month: Iliopsoas

If you're a nine-to-fiver like many of us in Hood River, or if you simply find yourself sitting for long periods of time, chances are you've stood up to a feeling of tightness in the front of your hip. Even though you're not in front of us explaining the symptoms and particularities of your body's goings on, that pain could be a direct cause of a pissed off iliopsoas. Want to know for sure? Make an appointment, and we'll help you get to the bottom of it.

Your iliopsoas (also referred to simply as your psoas) originates in your lower back and stretches down towards your inner thigh, and it plays a crucial role in walking, running, or any action that requires you to lift your leg. When it's unhappy, it's hard to feel healthy and active. Below we outline some stretches and suggestions for whipping it into shape.

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Fun facts about the psoas

This incredibly well-used muscle is one of the only muscles that connects your upper half to your lower, and, because it attaches to the lumbar vertebrae towards the bottom of your back, it can be a major contributor to low back pain. When sitting for long periods of time, the psoas can contract and become tight and when you stand back up, increased lumbar lordosis, or curve in your lower back occurs.

Sometimes, a tight psoas can also decrease circulation and innervation to the uterus and other nearby organs—this has been known to cause problems with pain and function for some women in labor.

A happier psoas

Weak, tight psoas muscles are extremely common. The good news: Strengthening and stretching exercises that target the psoas are easy and require super minimal equipment.

Strengthening:

Resisted knee drives using a TheraBand can make a serious difference for a weak psoas. Both marching in place (demonstrated above) or walking forward with high knees are highly effective. Remember to coordinate opposite arm with opposite knee to replicate the motion of walking. If you want a challenge, a great way to ramp this exercise up is by performing fast high knees. Exercise for 1:00 minute and repeat three times. 

Stretching:

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EASY: Always focus on shifting the pelvis in a posterior position (as if you were tucking your buttock underneath) to get an extra stretch before shifting your weight forward to your front leg. Focus on keeping your front heel grounded. You should feel a deep stretch in the front of your thigh. 

MODERATE: Repeat the above stretch, but bring your foot up about a foot on the wall. If extra support is needed on the knee, be sure to place a blanket or yoga block underneath. 

ADVANCED: Repeat the stretch above, but elevate the back knee against the wall. Be sure to use a stick or yoga blocks in front of you for extra assistance when getting into this position. Hold for 30-45 seconds, repeat three times. 

Want to schedule an appointment with a psoas expert? Get in touch with us today. For more updates on the goings on around our office, catch us on Facebook and keep an eye out for upcoming free events!