Basic Anatomy of Stretching the Hip Flexors

This week we are returning to our discussion of 'the basic anatomy' series and we are taking a look at the hip flexors, but specifically the psoas and iliacus muscles.

The hip flexors are all the muscles that flex the hip joint. Surprise!

There are 4: sartorius, rectus femoris, iliacus, and psoas.

Commonly the psoas and iliacus are termed, together, the iliopsoas. it isn't a separate muscle.

Anyway, muscles that cross multiple joints are interesting to me because you can predispose that muscle to be stretched by getting into certain joint positions.

For example, if you wanted to stretch the rectus femoris instead of the psoas, you would want to do a lunge stretch with the knee bent. Why? Because the rectus femoris crosses the knee and the psoas does not. You can pre-load the rectus femoris by bending the knee and then go into hip extension.

If you wanted to get more psoas, you would want to have a less bent knee to slack the rectus femoris and then use the fact that the psoas connects to your lumbar spine to predispose it into a stretch. This would be done by side-bending away from your hip that is in extension (so if you were in a lunge position with your right knee on the ground, you'd want to side bend to the left).

Take advantage of these anatomical connections to target different tissues.

You could also just stretch the hip into extension and you will probably be doing yourself a lot of good. But if you have reason to target a specific muscle, use pre-loading to your advantage.

The psoas especially is pretty deep in your abdomen. I highly doubt you are going to roll it out. In fact, I made a video with a surgeon a few years ago to talk about how this probably isn't a good idea. Check it out below:

Additionally, you may find this video useful as I commonly think people blame their hip flexors for being tight but it is more of a relative stiffness issue between their trunk and their hips (meaning they are just weak):

Thanks for reading,

Ryan

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