Well, It's just one of the most important muscle groups in the body, connecting the upper and lower halves. Made up of the psoas major and the iliacus. Also referred to as the hip flexor. We don't think about these muscles unless we become aware of how they work and what to look for when they are out of balance.
I have many clients coming to me with sciatica and lower back pain unknowing of the role that these 2 muscles play. I always say that sciatica is my specialty because it is typically an easy fix if the client is also doing the work I prescribe. Because the psoas attaches to T12 the lower spine can feel compacted when this muscle is tight. It can also pull vertebrae/hips out of alignment.
Here are my favorite Iliopsoas stretches:
This stretch can be done with the back leg in a lunge position with knee pointing straight down and then raising same arm, on the lunging leg side, straight up then back a few inches until the intense stretch is felt. I recommend using a chair for balance.
This is a good one for people who are experiencing knee pain or cannot put pressure on
their knees. Same as above - you can add the arm in and a chair for balance.
This is a great one that can also be done in a chair you would just lean straight back forward to feel stretch. Important to use muscular strength of legs to perform stretch rather than pulling with your arms. Also flexing the foot of the leg crossing over is essential for keeping the knee join protected.
This is a personal favorite! Only do this if you have good balance. I like to make an X with arms and legs to ensure more stability.
You can also lay frontward over the ball with bent legs out like a frog... releasing core and giving a lower lumbar release. When in this position you can put your elbows into the ball while completely relaxing lower half for a deeper stretch.
This is a great one if your lower back is locking up and it hurts to sit. It is less intense but will help release. can be done on the bed too just move to the edge.
If you are a client of mine then I have already insisted that you buy a dense foam roller. Here you place the roller on your sacrum - not on lower lumbar! You can also do the happy baby yoga pose on the roller which feels really good. Only do this if you are not experiencing back pain.
All of these stretches are good but may not be good for your situation. So proceed with caution and listen to your body! If something causes pain do not do it. If the stretch feels good then it is good for you. We are all at different levels of physical shape and injury history so, if you are uncertain then consult a professional before trying these to make sure it is indeed your iliopsoas.
If you have a combination of the above symptoms give me a call today to set up a session to test your iliopsoas!