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RX For Low-Back Pain: Stretch Your Hip Flexors

Low-back pain is a common complaint and if your run, bike, or sit too much tight hips could be contributing to the ache around your spine. A major hip flexor muscle, the psoas, not only draws the thigh toward the abdomen, it is also attached to the five lowest vertebrae of the spine. When the psoas shortens and tighten from activities like sprinting or biking, it can pull on the vertebrae, creating a sensation of tightness in the low back. The good news is that stretching out the hip flexors can alleviate a lot of lower back pain. Once you are warmed up, you should stretch your psoas. Try these two stretches after you next run or ride.

Hip Flexor Stretch



Photo: Jenny Sugar
This is an effective stretch you can do anywhere.

  • Fold up a towel and place it about eight inches away from a wall.
  • Kneel down and place your left knee on the towel and your toes against the wall.
  • Now place your right foot on the ground in front of you and lower your hips down until you feel a stretch in the front of your left hip. Make sure your right knee is directly above your right ankle.
  • Place your hands on your front knee to help keep your torso straight. Stay here for at least 30 seconds — if your quads are tight you feel them getting a big stretch too.
  • To increase the stretch, lift your left arm overhead and side bend to the right. Then slowly release and do this stretch on the other side.

Psoas Stretch on Roller

Source: Megan Wolfe Photography

If you have a foam roller, try this passive, relaxing psoas stretch.

  • Place the roller perpendicular to your spine and lie with your sacrum, the back of your pelvis — not your spine — on the roller.
  • Pull your right knee toward your chest, keeping your left heel on the ground. You should feel a stretch on the front of your left hip.
  • To increase the stretch, reach your left arm over your head and open your knee slightly out to the right.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
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