Psoas Stretch Using Pilates Moves

A good Psoas stretch is done by extending the thigh at the hip joint, or any action that place the thigh behind the pelvis helps in stretching the lower psoas muscle on that side.

psoas muscle image

Anterior View of the Hip Joint

The psoas muscle is the only muscle in the body that connects the upper and lower parts of the body. 

The tendons of the psoas muscle are attached to all 5 lumbar vertebrae and then they travel anteriorly past the pelvis to the top of the femur at the hip joint.

This is the only muscle in the body that is bi-articulate.  It work at 2 different joints in the body!  The hip and the back.

Ways to do a Psoas Stretch using Pilates Moves:

Bridge Up and with Leg Drop:

pilates bridge exercise image

The Pilates Bridge is a great way to stretch and open the hip joint including the psoas muscle.

When you think about our activities every day, for the most part we are sitting at work, eating, watching tv, working on the computer, etc.

This contributes to a tight and short psoas muscle, which leads to an increase in back pain.

Do the bridge as shown above, pressing into your feet and lifting your hips off the ground with an exhale.  Then take a breath in and exhale as you peel or articulate your spine back down to the ground.

bridge with psoas stretch image

One Leg Drop Variation: 

Drop one thigh towards the ground and press into the opposite foot to lift the hip on that side.

Inhale, then exhale to bring the hips down and the thigh moves back to the center.

Keep your shoulder blades heavy on the mat, lower ribs may lift off.

Repeat on each side for 4-6 repetitions to really get a good psoas stretch.

Lunges on the Pilates Reformer:

psoas stretch on the Pilates reformer image

One of my favorite ways to stretch the psoas muscle, hamstrings, and just really open up the front of the body is using the Pilates Reformer to stretch.

I use about 1 1/2 spring tension.  From a kneeling position on the reformer place one foot on the foot bar and the other against the shoulder pad, as shown. 

Exhale as you press the back leg out and then begin pushing off the front leg as far back as you are able to really open the hips in the back and get a good hamstring stretch in the front leg.

Hold and breathe, then slowly resist the spring tension to come back in to start.

Repeat for 4-6 repetitions on each side. 

Cobra or Back Extension Stretch

back extension stretch image

This Pilates exercise is a great way to open both the front and back of the body, specifically a tight or weak spine.

The back extension stretch not only stretches and elongates the low back, but also opens up the pelvis and hip flexors, including the psoas major.

Begin lying on your belly face down.  With hands under your shoulders inhale as you begin to peel your spine up off the mat drawing your abdominal muscles up and in deeply into your spine.

Hold for a few breaths and then exhale as you peel back down. 

Repeat for 6-8 repetitions or whatever feels good.

Piriformis Muscle or Crossover Stretch

piriformis muscle stretch image

Because the Psoas muscle runs from back to front another way to get into the muscle and stretch is from the si joint posteriorly.

This crossover psoas stretch is also considered a good piriformis or sciatic stretch.

Begin lying on your back, it's helpful to wrap a band or towel around your foot for support as shown.

Inhale as you begin to bring one leg across the midline of the body until you feel a stretch or pull into that hip or si joint area in the deep part of the buttock.  Hold for a couple of breaths and then come back to start. 

Keep your shoulder blades on the mat, your waist and lower ribs can roll off a bit.

Repeat for 4-6 repetitions on each side.

Leave Psoas Stretch and find out more ways to stretch and exercise your hip muscles here.

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