Looking for stretches for lower back pain? Hip flexor stretch is the place to start - Be My Healer
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3 most effective hip flexor stretches for lower back pain

number 1 stretch for lower back pain hip flexor

Lower back pain is often caused by a tug-o-war between tight muscles and weak muscles. In order for core exercises to be effective, proper stretching is a must. 

In this post, I am going to show you a game-changing stretch that will fundamentally change the mechanics of your back pain. And you have a few different options to fit this stretch into your daily routine.

This stretch is so essential for starting lower back pain rehab that it is always the first thing I assess and stretch with all of my lower back pain patients.

WHAT: One accused suspect: Iliopsoas muscle, often referred to as the hip flexor muscle.

Iliopsoas muscles are a pair of lower back muscles frequently overlooked when we study our lower back. Its main function is to allow you to bend your hips (knee to chest).

iliopsoas muscle

This muscle becomes an issue when we have developed weakness in the core muscle (abdominal muscles and gluteus muscles). Iliopsoas muscle becomes the primary compensator. Soon enough, it will become overused and tight. A tight iliopsoas muscle severely limits our pelvic movement. It also creates tension that forces our lower back to be stuck in highly unnatural alignment, unable to relax.

WHY: Two ways that iliopsoas muscle is related to lower back pain

For those who have chronic lower back aches and pain, the iliopsoas muscle has been in the role of stabilizing our back and pelvis (instead of letting core muscles do the job), and become tender and tight. This result of compensation creates unrelenting tension in your pelvis and lower back at all times, and even more during bending and lifting activities.

When we hurt our back with a bad movement or an accident, pain will trigger the iliopsoas muscle to tense up and protect our spine. However, the iliopsoas muscle may never get the signal to let go. 

In both cases, releasing and stretching your iliopsoas muscle will provide fast pain relief.

HOW: Three ways to stretch iliopsoas muscle

Standing Stretch

hip flexor stretch standing

Image source: HEP2go.com

  • If you are stretching the right iliopsoas muscle, take a big step forward with your left leg and bend your knee as if performing a lunge.
  • Keep right leg straight. Straighten up your back for good posture and suck your belly button towards your spine as far as you can.
  • You should now feel a stretch in the front of your right hip anywhere between above hip level to mid-thigh.
  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and relax. Then switch to stretch the opposite side.

Kneeling Stretch

hip flexor stretch
  • If you are stretching the right iliopsoas muscle, kneel your left knee either on the floor or a knee height surface.
  • Take a large step forward with your right leg and bend your right knee.
  • Straighten up your back for good posture and suck your belly button towards your spine as far as you can.
  • You should now feel a stretch in the front of your right hip anywhere between above hip level to mid-thigh.
  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and relax. Then switch to stretch the opposite side. 

The kneeling stretch is slightly less convenient than the standing one, however it is more comfortable and supported, allowing for a better magnitude of stretch.

Laying down Stretch

hip flexor stretch supine
  • Find a tall surface and lay down facing up along the edge of the surface. (Ideal surfaces like a firm mattress, massage mat or table padded with cushions)
  • Drop your stretching leg and hip off the edge of table while bending the opposite knee for comfort. (If your feet touches the floor during the stretch, your surface might be too low)
  • Suck your belly button towards your spine as far as you can. The stretch on this one is gentler, thus you can stay with the stretch for up to 3 mins before switching sides.

This version of the iliopsoas stretch is more appropriate for those who have lower back pain at the moment to be more comfortable lying down.

NOTE: if you experience pinch pain in your lower back during the stretch, try to pull your belly button in really tight. If the pain is still there, try the stretch in a different position, or try back later after some abdominal muscle strengthening.

 I am not claiming that this stretch will cure your lower back pain. However, it is a great point to start actively care for your spine condition. I hope this stretch becomes your new starting point towards fitness and a pain-free life again.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you find this post helpful. 

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