Get a new back with these 4 stretches

If you sit all day, these stretches will help you




Anatomy of a muscle

The psoas and iliacus (hip flexors) are situated deep in the muscular system. They originate from the front side of the lower vertebrae and the front of the hip bone. They run down the front of the pubic bone and attach to the inside of the upper femur. The hip flexors flex and internally rotate the hip joint as well as increase the arch of the lower back.


Causes of tightness


These muscles become shortened by any activity that flexes the hips for a long period of time, such as sitting.

Results of tightness

Constant and prolonged hip flexion from sitting all day can cause tightness in the hip flexors. This can make them chronically tense which can prevent the leg from traveling behind the body correctly – when you walk or run. As a result, other areas of the body compensate such as overarching of the low back.

Symptoms of tightness

  • Ache or pain in the low back

  • Pain in the groin or the inside of the thigh

Flexibility test

Lie on the floor on your back with both legs straight.

  • Bend the right knee and pull it to your chest until your low back flattens against the floor

  • If the left knee raises off the floor you have a tight left hip flexor

  • Repeat test on other leg

  • Tip - do not allow the foot of the straightened leg to turn out to the side

The fixes

Do one of the following daily.

Lying

  • Sit on the edge of a stable table or bench

  • Lie down on your back and pull both legs toward your rib cage with your hands

  • Your low back should be pressed against the surface

  • Grab your left leg in between your thigh and lower leg to protect your knee

  • Slowly extend your right leg until it hangs freely in the air and relax for 10 seconds

  • Resist by lifting your right leg toward the ceiling 1 to 2 inches and hold for 5 seconds

  • Deepen to a new stretch point by relaxing the leg and hold for 10 seconds

  • Repeat steps 6 and 7 three more times

  • Repeat other leg

To increase the stretch in the muscle, hang a weight or a bag from your right leg.

Kneeling

  1. Kneel with one leg in front of the other

  2. Tuck your hips under until you feel the glutes of your kneeling leg contract – pretend you are a scared dog hiding your tail

  3. Keep the torso upright without arching the low back

  4. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds

  5. Isometrically contract the hip flexors by trying to pull the bottom knee forward along the floor and hold 5 seconds

  6. Relax the contraction and lean the whole body forward to a new stretch point and hold 10 seconds

  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 three more times

Standing

  1. With both feet pointing straight forward, stand back with the right leg

  2. Tuck your hips underneath you (like the dog mentioned above)

  3. Lean the whole body forward keeping your torso upright

  4. Raise the right arm up and over your head and hold 10 seconds

  5. Relax your arm down while you isometrically contract your hip flexor by pulling your right foot forward and hold for 5 seconds

  6. Relax the contraction and raise your arm up and over your head and hold for 10 seconds

  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 three more times

This version has the added advantage of stretching your calves and upper back.


Using the calf/chest stretching strap



This also helps with posture as it stretches the muscles responsible for rounded shoulders. Click here for more information.


Any of these stretches should be done daily to relieve hip flexor tightness reducing the pressure on the low back.


Enjoy!

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