Low-back pain is plaguing the nation! 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, but is also attached to the five lowest vertebrae of the spine. When the psoas shortens and tightens from activities like sprinting or cycling, 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, and after every workout, you should stretch your psoas. Try these two stretches after you next run or ride.
Hip Flexor Stretch
This is an effective stretch you can do anywhere to lengthen the quad, the muscle on front of the thigh, along with the psoas.
- Begin in a lunge with your right foot forward. Slowly lower your left knee to the floor.
- Take a few moments to find balance, and once you're stable, reach your left arm back to grab your left foot. Pull your foot toward your pelvis to increase the stretch. Squeezing your left glute will increase the stretch, too.
- Hold for 30 seconds. Slowly release your hold on your left foot. Come back to the high lunge position, then switch sides with your left foot forward to stretch your right hip.
Psoas Stretch on Roller
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.