May 13, 2017
If you have back pain and your doctor has told you its from tight or sore muscles, then the single best exercise for you to do for your low back pain is probably going to be the Psoas, or hip flexor stretch.
The Psoas (So-az with a long ‘o’) muscle lies deep in your abdominal cavity and attaches to the front of your back bone. It helps to stabilize your body when you’re walking or upright. And it also helps to raise your knee as when you’re going up steps or kicking a ball.
It’s one of the essential “core” muscles everyone has heard about and is a workhorse when it comes to keeping you from falling over when you’re walking, running, carrying a heavy load, etc. In short, it’s a really important muscle.
The Problem With Sitting
The problem is this: They get neglected in this high tech 21st century. And because they get neglected, they get weak and tight. This happens because of all the sitting people do nowadays. People are sitting in their cars, on trains, on buses, at desks, at dinner tables and so on.
Since these muscles attach to the lower portion of your spine, when they get short and tight from prolonged sitting, they tend to pull on your lower spine when you’re in any position other than sitting.
You may feel that it’s hard to straighten up when you first get up out of a chair. Or, you may have a lot of back pain when you’re walking for longer periods of time. Both of these issues with back pain are probably coming from the fact that your hip flexor muscles have become shortened and tight.
In order to be healthy and not cause any back pain, they need exercise. They get worked out and stay healthy and strong with a lot of physical activity. Like when you’re using your legs to hold you up against gravity like when you’re walking, running, dancing, playing sports and so on.
You hear a lot about how you should stay active for good heart health and lose weight. But, it’s essential to stay active if you want a healthy back also.
Hip Flexor Stretch Is Best Exercise For Back Pain
Now when I say that the one best exercise for back pain is the stretching the psoas, that is not to say that others should be avoided. Not at all.
However, for someone that has back pain, doing a simple stretch may be more convenient an exercise than trying to do something else. Plus it may not hurt as much if you find a good way for you do do it.
There are several ways to stretch your hip flexor muscle group. You can do it in standing, kneeling, sitting, and even lying on the bed on your back.
Hip Flexor Stretch In Standing
Doing this stretch in standing is easier for those of you who may not be in as much pain or may be able to move better. You basically just place one foot on an elevated surface like a step or chair. Then you simply move your belly button forward stretching the front of the thigh of the rear leg.
Hip Flexor Stretch In Sitting
You can do this stretch in sitting also. Simply move your rear end to the front of the chair and turn your body slightly so that one leg falls off the chair. This is the leg that will be stretched. You need to really stretch your foot behind your body to feel this stretch.
Hip Flexor Stretch in Kneeling
If you have bad knees you may need a pillow to do this one. I like to call it the “proposal” stretch. You simply rest on one knee, place the opposite foot a short distance ahead of it’s knee and lunge forward. This will stretch the psoas on the rear leg. Remember to keep your body straight with your head and shoulders above your hips.
Hip Flexor Stretch Lying Down
This technique is for folks who have a lot of back pain or are stiff in other areas of their bodies. It keeps your back straight and supported through the whole stretch. Drop the leg you want to stretch off the bed or bench. Then pull the opposite knee towards your chest. You only have to pull until you feel a stretch in the opposite leg. Don’t try to tie yourself in knots.
Each method will stretch the Psoas to one degree or another and should relieve some of the pain that may be caused by tension in your hip flexor muscles. But it’s important to remember that for any exercise program to work, it needs to be done on a consistent basis and over the course of several weeks.
After you limber up a progressive strengthening program for your hip extensor muscles may be in order.
Get On A Stretching Program
So, while I believe this particular stretch to be the single best exercise for you to do if you want to start getting a handle on your back pain, it’s not a quick fix.
Keep in mind that if your back pain is caused by sitting all day at work, in front of a computer, or in a car, doing one or two exercises a couple of times a week isn’t going to reverse something you do day in and day out. You need an exercise plan thats simple and easy to do and will fit in with your life’s schedule.