According to the pop singer Shakira – our hips don’t lie. Especially if they are in pain, or really tight. Read on for fun facts about the power behind our pelvis muscles, and different ways we can lengthen and loosen up in the hips.
The hip flexors literally carry the human body all day, every day. However, due to the fact that our hip muscles are responsible for walking, sitting, standing they are constantly activated and at a great risk of being injured.
The iliopsoas muscle (psoas for short) starts from the low back area then travels through the pelvis, attaching to the thigh bone. It is almost always involved when there is pain in the hip flexor region. This muscle is also known to be one of the ‘tightest’ muscles in the human body.
Symptoms of a tight psoas:
- Lower back and or abdominal Pain
- Leg and or groin pain
- Pelvic discomfort
- Trouble standing/sitting
- Inability to perform sit-ups
Causes of psoas pain:
- Sitting for extended periods
- Sleeping on the side, or fetal position
- Excess weight
- Running excessively
- Climbing large amounts of stairs
- Performing high number of sit-ups or leg ups (repetitive strain)
Due to the fact that the psoas is largely responsible for keeping proper posture, it is wise to include regular hip opening and lengthening in our daily exercise routines. Healthy hip muscles (not tight) can reduce many age related issues and assist with an upright posture well into old age. Targeting the iliopsoas with Yoga postures is easy, and rather fun to do. Regular practice of these hip opening postures can greatly reduce wear and tear on the hip joints, spine and knees.
How to Release the Psoas (Constructive Rest Position )
Lay on your back, with a relaxed spine, find a neutral and restful position.Bend the knees and place the feet hip width apart on the floor. Your feet should be 1 or 2ft from your buttocks.Keep gazing towards the ceiling and avoid moving your pelvis in any direction, nor flatten the spine. Optional, you can place a pillow or yoga blog between the knees, and you can cross the arms over your chest just under the neck.Hold this position for 10 or 20 minutes.
This will help loosen the psoas, creating a supple relaxed muscle.
Yoga Postures for Psoas Release
The following Yoga asanas, also known as poses, help to engage, lengthen and release the tight iliopsoas muscles. Practice each pose regularly to obtain supple psoas muscles which will help to prevent pain, strain or future injury to the hip flexors.
Reclining Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)
This pose helps to elongate the hamstring muscles and spinal column.
While laying flat on your back bring your right leg upwards.Use a Yoga belt around the balls of the feet just under the toes, or grab onto the right big toe with your index finger and attempt to straighten the right leg foot up to the ceiling. Keep the left leg straight and strong, pressing the back of the knee into the floor to assist in opening the lower spine.Keep the head and neck relaxed but long.Hold for 5-10 breaths then switch to the other side and repeat.
Boat Pose (Navasana)
This pose helps strengthen the abdominal muscles, hip flexors and spine. Start by sitting on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you.Engage your abdominal muscles, keep your spine long then begin to raise both of your legs up in the air at the same time.Relax into the pose by drawing the lower rib cage closer to the spine.Keep the jaw line parallel to the floor.The legs should be held firmly together, gently gaze forward and hold this position for 5-10 deep breaths.
There are many other poses than can assist with opening the hips and loosening the infamously tight psoas muscles. If you would like to take your hip flexor stretches to the next level, try Pigeon Pose for extra lengthening. Lastly, to relax after an intense happy hip opening yoga class, enjoy a Supine Spinal Twist which will aid in easing the psoas muscles back into a busy day.