Psoas Muscle Stretches That Physical Therapists Swear By

Tight psoas muscles can cause stiffness, pain, and achiness at the hip. These psoas muscle stretches can help loosen things back up.

Published Date: Nov 3, 2023
woman-doing-psoas-muscle-stretches-outside

Psoas Muscle Stretches That Physical Therapists Swear By

Tight psoas muscles can cause stiffness, pain, and achiness at the hip. These psoas muscle stretches can help loosen things back up.

Published Date: Nov 3, 2023
woman-doing-psoas-muscle-stretches-outside

Psoas Muscle Stretches That Physical Therapists Swear By

Tight psoas muscles can cause stiffness, pain, and achiness at the hip. These psoas muscle stretches can help loosen things back up.

Published Date: Nov 3, 2023
woman-doing-psoas-muscle-stretches-outside

Psoas Muscle Stretches That Physical Therapists Swear By

Tight psoas muscles can cause stiffness, pain, and achiness at the hip. These psoas muscle stretches can help loosen things back up.

Published Date: Nov 3, 2023
woman-doing-psoas-muscle-stretches-outside
Table of Contents

Your psoas muscle is a bit of an unsung hero. It’s a muscular connection between your upper and lower body. You use it every day when you stand, walk, run, jump, or even just maintain an upright posture. It springs into action any time you bring your knee toward your chest, which is more often than you might think.

It’s important to show your psoas muscles love because they can naturally tighten up when we spend time in one position. “When we sit or stand in one position, blood flow to our muscles can decrease and cause them to feel stiff and achy,” says Dipalee Babaria, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at Hinge Health. Over time, that tightness and achiness can make it harder for you to do the activities you enjoy. But you can help prevent this from happening with psoas muscle stretches.

Read on to learn more about the psoas muscle, why it’s important to your overall mobility, and how to keep it loose with psoas muscle stretches from our Hinge Health physical therapists.

Our Hinge Health Experts

Dipalee Babaria, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Dr. Babaria is a Hinge Health physical therapist and a board-certified orthopedic specialist.
Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.
Jonathan Lee, MD, MBA
Orthopedic Surgeon and Medical Reviewer
Dr. Lee is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and an Associate Medical Director at Hinge Health.

What Is the Psoas Muscle?

The psoas muscle is technically a hip flexor muscle that connects to either side of your spine and runs all the way down your pelvis to your thigh bone, says Dr. Babaria. It’s long — up to about 16 inches, and it’s the muscle that allows you to bring your knee to your chest. “Any type of leg-lifting motion, whether it’s walking upstairs, kicking, or running, uses this muscle,” she says.

Since you do activities that use your psoas muscle all day long, yours is probably already strong, says Dr. Babaria. But when we spend prolonged periods of time seated at work or at home, our psoas muscles are placed into a shortened position, which can cause stiffness. This is why psoas muscle stretches are so important — you want to be intentional about stretching out the muscle regularly, especially before and after exercise. 

Why You Should Stretch Your Psoas Muscle

A tight psoas muscle isn’t just uncomfortable, it can also cause other problems, including:  

  • Low back pain. “When your psoas muscle is tight, it can pull your pelvis forward, which puts tension on your lower back causing back pain,” says Dr. Babaria. 

  • Osteoarthritis. Tight hip flexor muscles can increase pressure on your hip joint, which may make arthritis symptoms worse. Research also shows that hip osteoarthritis is potentially associated with reduced psoas muscle strength and flexibility.

The best way to help avoid these compounding issues is to keep your psoas muscle loose and limber, says Dr. Babaria. It won’t just help reduce your risk of developing low back pain — it can also help other joint pain (like knee pain) and make it easier for you to move, improving your workout and athletic performance.

Psoas Stretches That Physical Therapists Recommend

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  • Hip Flexor Stretch
  • Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
  • Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch Overhead Reach
  • Bridge
  • Straight Leg Raise
  • Standing March
  • Frankenstein Walk

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If you develop pain from tight psoas muscles, these psoas muscles stretches and strengthening exercises are recommended by Hinge Health physical therapists. They include hip stretching and strengthening that directly impact the psoas muscle and can aid in loosening it up. In addition to these moves, Dr. Babaria recommends yoga, especially the camel pose, where you push your hips forward over your knees and open your chest to the ceiling.

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

PT Tip: Warm Up and Cool Down

Proper pre- and post-workout stretching can help prevent straining your psoas muscles during exercise. “It’s a common muscle to strain, especially among soccer players,” says Dr. Babaria. One way to avoid this is to do a dynamic stretch to warm up, like the Frankenstein walks mentioned above. After your workout, add the suggested psoas muscle stretches to your cooldown routine. “This will loosen the psoas muscles so that you’re less prone to injury,” says Dr. Babaria.

How Hinge Health Can Help You

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program. 

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you. 

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. 

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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References

  1. Siccardi, M. A., Tariq, M. A., & Valle, C. August 8, 2023. Anatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb: Psoas Major. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535418/ 

  2. Lee, B., Lee, S. E., Kim, Y. H., Park, J. H., Lee, K. H., Kang, E., Kim, S., Lee, N., & Oh, D. (2021). Severe Atrophy of the Ipsilateral Psoas Muscle Associated with Hip Osteoarthritis and Spinal Stenosis-A Case Report. Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania), 57(1), 73. doi:10.3390/medicina57010073

  3. Caffey, S. October 19, 2020. So it’s your Psoas: A common hidden cause of lower back pain. ACRO Physical Therapy & Fitness. https://www.acropt.com/blog/2020/10/19/so-its-your-psoas-a-common-hidden-cause-of-lower-back-pain