Stretches for Tight Psoas Muscles

The psoas major and minor are two muscle groups that are part of the hip flexor complex. They work with other hip muscles to flex and extend the hip and leg and provide some rotation and lateral flexion of the pelvis and trunk, according to corrective exercise specialist Anthony Carey, owner of Function First Exercise Studio in San Diego. Stretching the psoas and associated muscles helps to alleviate back pain and hip stiffness that are caused by tight hip flexors.


Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Kneel on the ground on your left knee, and place your right leg in front of you. Both legs should be bent at 90 degrees. Curl your left toes on the ground to stretch the sole of your left foot. Tighten your left buttock, and lean your body forward slightly to increase the stretch. Raise your left hand above your head, and hold the stretch for five to six deep breaths. Switch legs and repeat the stretch on your right side. You may do one additional set of stretches if one side feels tighter than the other side.

Active Standing Hip Flexor Stretch

Stand with your legs together, and step forward with your left leg into a slight lunge. Raise both arms up at the same time, and tighten your right buttock. Hold the stretch for two seconds, and return to the starting position. Perform eight to 10 reps on each hip flexor for one or two sets.

When you have completed the exercise, step back with your right leg and raise both arms up at the same time. Hold the stretch for two seconds, and return to the starting position. Perform eight to 10 reps on each side for one or two sets.

Self-Myofascial Release

Self-myofascial release, or SMR, is a type of flexibility training where you perform self-massage on your muscles and tissues to release tight adhesions, according to physical therapist Chris Frederick, co-author of “Stretch to Win.” You can use a foam roller or a massage stick to do SMR. To do SMR on your psoas, place your right upper thigh near the pelvis on top of the foam roller with your forearms on the ground. Gently roll up toward the pelvis and lower abdominals until you feel tenderness in the area. Hold and gently rub the area until the tenderness disappears.

Expert Insight

Carey suggests that you also incorporate strength exercises for your hips to decrease hip flexor tightness. Tight hip flexors have too much neural stimulation while their opposing muscles, the buttocks, lack neural stimulus. By increasing hip activity, this balances both sides of neural activity in your muscles. Sample exercises include hip bridges, squats and kneeling hip extensions.

  • Pain-Free Program; Anthony Carey
  • Stretch to Win; Ann and Chris Frederick

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or