Iliopsoas Stretches To Incorporate Into Your Routine

What Is The Iliopsoas Muscle?

The iliopsoas muscle is the muscle responsible for flexing and externally rotating the thigh at the hip joint. This muscle also helps to flex and stabilise the trunk and assists with correct posture.

The iliopsoas is a combo of the psoas major, the psoas minor and the iliacus muscles, which join together and make up the iliopsoas muscle. This muscle group is the one that connects the femur to the spine.

The Importance of Stretching the Iliopsoas Muscle

Many people suffer from tight iliopsoas muscles, especially if they spend most of their day seated. This is because when we are seated, the iliopsoas muscle can shorten and become inactive – but it’s not just too much sitting that can cause issues for your iliopsoas muscles.

Frequent stretching of the iliopsoas muscle can help to decrease the risk of injuries, improve the posture and stabilise the trunk. On top of this, it can help you move from a seated position to a standing one. By stretching the iliopsoas muscle you can also reduce hip pain and increase mobility in the hip. If you are suffering from pain in your lower back, working the iliopsoas muscle with the appropriate stretches can help prevent further injury while decreasing pain.

There is a multitude of factors that can cause your iliopsoas to become tight, such as football, basketball, running, or having weak glute muscles or tight hamstrings. For certain people, short or tight iliopsoas muscles can lead to iliopsoas tendinitis, iliopsoas syndrome or iliopsoas impingement – all of which are conditions that require intervention to improve and get better.

The great news is – by performing moves like the kneeling hip flexor stretch and the glute bridge, you can help avoid these more serious conditions that allow you to perform daily tasks with ease.

It’s a simple task to add in a few iliopsoas stretches to your daily routine, just be sure to warm yourself up before getting into a stretch.

Example Iliopsoas Stretches

Popular stretches for the iliopsoas muscles include kneeling hip flexor stretches, standing hip flexor stretches, hip flexor bed stretch and the glute bridge stretch. All of these stretches can help lengthen the iliopsoas muscles. You should try and get a feel for all of these stretches before choosing the ones that best suit your abilities.

Standing Hip Flexor Stretch

This nice little stretch works on the psoas muscle which is located in the lower lumbar region of the spine and extends through the pelvis to the femur. This muscle can become tight from extended sitting or from repetitive aerobic exercises such as running.

How To:

  1. Take a split stance by bringing one foot forward and the other foot back.
  2. Drop your back knee and tailbone an inch closer to the ground while lightly tucking your pelvis forward.
  3. Keep your spine neutral by avoiding rounding or arching your back.
  4. Hold.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Glute Bridge

The Glute Bridge workout will target one of the biggest muscles on your lower half – your glutes! Glute bridges will also contribute to the development of your leg muscles and help with core stabilisation.

How To:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and with your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart while holding a dumbbell in each hand, resting them under your hip bones.
  2. Push up through your heels while squeezing your glutes and abs. Lift your hips a few inches off the ground until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
  3. Hold this pose for a second and then slowly lower yourself back down to your starting position.

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

If you have no problem kneeling, you will find that this move can allow you to get a deep stretch in your iliopsoas muscle. Just like the standing hip flexor stretch, you can control the depth of the stretch by lengthening or shortening your leg stride.

How To: 

  1. Start by getting into a half-kneeling position with your left leg about two feet in front of the right leg. The left knee should form a 90-degree angle. You can use a mat for cushioning.
  2. Place your hands on your left knee, maintaining an upright posture, leaning slightly forward until you can feel a stretch in the front of your groin, hip and thigh on your right side.
  3. Hold this pose for 25-35 seconds. You should not feel any lower back pain, and if you do – ease up during the stretch.
  4. Slowly return to your starting pose and switch sides.
  5. Perform the kneeling hip flexor stretch three times on each side.

Hip Flexor Bed Stretch

The hip flexor bed stretch is usually used in physical therapy sessions for rehab purposes. The hip flexor bed stretch is a great option if balance or kneeling is an issue for you.

How To:

  1. Start by lying on your back on your bed, positioning yourself with your left leg closest to the age of the bed.
  2. Slowly allow your left leg to hang over the side of your bed, your right leg can stay bent with your foot on the bed. You will feel a nice stretch on the hip flexor. Ideally, your foot should hover over the ground instead of touching – but it is okay if it does touch.
  3. You can deepen this stretch by gently bending your knee. You should feel this across the thigh and front of the hip.
  4. Hold this pose for 25-35 seconds.
  5. Return the left leg to the bed and rotate so your right side is closest to the edge of the bed.
  6. Perform this stretch three times on each side.