The psoas (pronounced so-az) is a large muscle that runs from the front of each upper thigh, through your core, to the lower 4-5 vertebrae on your spine. This hip flexor is the muscle that lifts your leg up high when you march in place (but who ever does that, really?).
The psoas is in its contracted position while you sit. This shortens its fibres over time, making it tight when you sit a lot. A tight psoas can pull on the lower vertebrae and lead to lower back pain. Stretching the psoas is important for everyone but is especially important to avoid or reduce lower back pain in people who sit all day.
One of the most effective yoga postures for stretching the psoas is Low Lunge. There are several variations on this pose. Here’s the one that I find most effective for stretching the psoas:
- Stand up with your feet hip distance apart and parallel to one another.
- Put your hands on your hips, and lengthen your spine as you breathe in. Make your chest proud!
- Bend forward at the waist, keeping a straight back.
- Bend your knees a lot, rest your belly on your thighs, and place your hands on the floor in front of you.
- Step way back with your right foot, keeping your left knee over your left ankle.
- Lower your right knee to the floor (put some padding, such as a folded towel, under your knee if it needs the extra cushion… mine does), and turn your foot to point your toes back.
- Place your hands on your left thigh.
- Gently push your left hip backward and your right hip forward a bit.
- Lunge gently forward into your left knee, making sure that your knee doesn’t go farther forward than your toes. If it does, move your left foot forward a bit until it doesn’t.
- You should be feeling a deep stretch in the front of your upper right thigh. Hold this for 30 seconds, back off from the lunge, bring your hands to the floor, and step forward with your right leg.
- Step back with your left foot and repeat.
Other Articles in this issue:
This is Your Health on Sitting
Take 5 – Make Time for this Quick Stretch: Standing Back Bend
Health Tip: Hydration
Philosophy Byte: Namasté
Eat Well: Apple Muffins
Balance At Work News