How to Strengthen Psoas Muscles

When psoas muscles, which are major flexors, become weak, they can cause the surrounding muscles to be strained from compensating.

Psoas Muscle

What Is The Psoas Muscles?

The psoas muscles are the only muscles that connect the spine to the legs. They are located in the lower back and extend to the pelvis to the thighbone. The psoas muscles are major hip flexors, that’s why the primary role of the psoas muscles is to contract and pull the thighs toward the torso. Through this, you are able to do things like running and climbing stairs. They are essential for the movements of our back, pelvis, hips, and legs. Whether you dance, run, bike, practice yoga, or even sleep, your psoas muscles are involved. They affect posture and help stabilize the spine.

How Can The Psoas Muscles Be Weakened?

Sitting for long periods of time, while you are at work or in a car, maybe the most common reason for short and tight psoas muscles. However, even a sleeping position, particularly the fetal position, can also contribute to the tightening and shortening of your psoas muscles. They can also be overstretched if you engage in excessive running or cycling and do a lot of sit-ups or weight-training exercises. Tight psoas muscles usually occur in athletes because they tend to overuse them. These may include dancers, runners, cyclists, and soccer players. Moreover, when your psoas muscles are tight, the length of your strides when walking or running is reduced. This is because your hips can’t stretch as much as it should.

When psoas muscles, which are major flexors, become weak, they can cause the surrounding muscles to be strained from compensating. That is why tight or overstretched psoas muscles could be the major cause of pains you may experience in your hip, groin, and lower back. Additionally, a tight psoas can cause serious postural problems, such as lordosis (an overarching of the spine). It is a common cause of low back pain and stiffness.

Strengthening Exercises

If your psoas muscles are short and tight, then you need stretching. However, if they are weak and overstretched, then they need strengthening.

If you cannot straighten your back while you’re standing, then you probably have tight psoas muscles. Another thing that you can do to determine if your psoas muscles are tight is to lie down, then pull one leg up to your chest. If the other leg comes up as you do this and does not drop down, there’s a good chance that your psoas muscles are tight.

To determine if your psoas muscles are weak, sit on a chair and lift up your knee. Then, have someone push the lifted knee. If your knee just easily drops back down, then your psoas muscles are probably weak. If it shows resistance, then your psoas muscles are most likely to be strong.

For this article, we are going to focus on how to strengthen your weak psoas muscles. Before doing any of the exercises below, we recommend that you first consult your doctor to rule out any conditions or injuries may negatively affect your health while doing any of these exercises.

Hanging Leg Lift

  1. To perform the hanging leg lift, hang from a pull-up bar that is high enough your feet do not touch the floor when they are fully extended.
  2. Next, flex your hips and knees simultaneously as you pull your knees up as high as possible.
  3. Then, slowly extend your legs back down.
  4. Repeat until the desired amount of repetitions is acquired.
  5. To build momentum as you pull up, avoid swinging your legs. You may add ankle weights if you would like to increase the resistance.

The contraction of the psoas muscles during this exercise is guaranteed to help strengthen them.

Resisted Psoas March

  1. Perform the resisted psoas march by lying on your back.
  2. Make sure that your lower back is held flat on the ground.
  3. Get a small resistance band and put it around both your feet.
  4. Then, pull both of your knees up forming a 90 degrees angle.
  5. Next, kick one leg into the resistance band. Pull it back up and do the same for the other leg.
  6. Repeat until the desired amount of repetitions is acquired.

This exercise causes a strong contraction that challenges the psoas to hold the spine and pelvis in position. This quickly eliminates the tightness that you may feel around your hips or lower back.

Standing Gate Openers

  1. To do the standing gate openers, stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your side.
  2. Lift your right knee up towards your chest. Maintain this leg position as you bring your right knee to the left, across the center of your body, and then to the right. Make sure to open your hip as far as possible.
  3. Return to your starting position and do the same for your left leg.
  4. Repeat until the desired amount of repetitions is acquired. You may wear ankle weights to make things tougher.

4. Leg Throws

  1. Start the leg throw exercise by lying down with your back flat against the ground. Have a partner stand above your head.
  2. Extend your legs above your waist, feet pointed to the ceiling. Have your partner push your feet back down. Let your legs follow the direction where they are being pushed. Just before they hit the floor, lift them back up again.
  3. Then, let your partner push your legs again.
  4. For a more challenging exercise, have your partner push your legs harder. Repeat until the desired amount of repetitions is acquired.

During the leg throw exercise, the psoas muscles contract eccentrically (muscles lengthen). The leg throw is also an exercise that targets the abs, quads, and hip flexors.

5. One-Legged Plank Pose

  1. This one is a yoga pose. Start the one-legged plank pose by getting on all your fours on the floor.
  2. Keep your arms in a straight line.
  3. Align your shoulders with your wrists, then ensure that you do not let your hips collapse towards the floor.
  4. Inhale, look forward, exhale, then lift your right leg up and let it hover. Maintain a neutral pelvis by drawing your hip points forward towards the chest.
  5. Hold this pose for as long as you can and then do the same for the other leg.

This pose will strengthen the psoas muscles as it works to keep the pelvis stable. To be more specific, the psoas of the left leg is going to stabilize the pelvis. Then, the psoas of the right leg is going to stabilize the lifted leg.

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