How to Release the Psoas Muscles

How to Release the Psoas Muscles


hi I’m Susan Koenig and Danny Burke the new editor of the Sohma Times asked me to make a video of a movement pattern I’ve been working with that deals with a very very common contraction pattern and I’m going to stand up to show you the pattern it’s when the low back is contracted and the hip flexors are contracted I’m going to sit down again and just talk a little bit about one of the reasons this comes about is because we sit for long long hours looking at the computer often our head goes forward we’re looking at the screen it brings ourselves our upper body forward we over contract our lower back and you can possibly see that that actually increases hip flexion and then after hours and hours we finally stand up so I’m going to stand up again I’m going to exaggerate what happens and I’m going to turn to the side so you can see me better so we stand up and we think we’re standing up straight and I’m going to turn to the side so we might look like this and I’m actually got a little hip flexion left but I’m going to exaggerate and put a little bit more in we stand up we think we’re straight but we’re not really straight because our hip flexors have been short for so long that they don’t completely lengthen then when we straighten our back it hyperextends our back and then we walk around with this a hyper-extended back the back and contraction the hip flexors and contraction and this represents a co contraction and it creates stiffness in the back in the pelvis in the hips it impedes walking so here’s a simple movement pattern that I’ve begun to incorporate in my daily cat stretch on the floor and I’m sure many of you can come up with wonderful movement patterns as well but here’s the one I like to do so I’m going to lie down on the pad now and what I like to start with is a little bit of warm up in some arch and flattening you can do that on your own I’m going to go right into the contraction pattern so I just mimic the pattern I just talked about I gently arch my lower back and I hold the arch I’m going to take my right hip flexors and flex them more and then I’m slowly going to release both my low back and my right hip flexors and just lengthen my leg to let them lengthen out more and in between each set I’m going to do an arch and a flatten and then I’m just going to bend my leg and start again arch flex the right hip slowly release lengthen the hip flexors on the right do an arch and a flatten and one more time in keeping with our three sets arch hold the arch hip flexor contraction on the right slowly release both lengthen out the hip flexors even more and take an arch and a flatten and relax now this is the one I most commonly use but sometimes I do a variation and I’m only going to recommend this variation which I’ll show you on the left if you feel your back can handle it if there’s any pain of course go back to the first one on this one I arch and I increase hip flexion on the left but as I release I straighten out my leg so I’m straightening out the hip flexors which just a little bit more lateral rotation to get into the psoas a little bit more but I still do the arch and the flatten I still like to come from this starting position and I’ll do it two more times arch hold the arch increase it flexion slowly release both as you straighten the left leg straight nothing hip flexor slowly put the leg down rest arch flatten and then last set inhale arch increase hip flexion and then release lengthening out of hip flexion slowly come down let everything relax and one last arch and flatten so I hope you try this out and I bet you can come up with many many wonderful movement patterns to release this co-contraction that affects the low back the hip flexors the deep soaz muscles and maybe you’d like to submit either in writing or in video your way of dealing with this pattern all you have to do is contact on that Danny Burke of the soma times thank you

97 Comments

  • Thomas Michalski says:

    Thanks for this…keep these videos coming. Your explanations are very simple and to the point.

  • chozhavendan says:

    Very useful and easy to do and effective. Thanks many.

  • Jon Tobol says:

    Thank you, how long should this take b4 I notice improvement?

  • susan koenig says:

    Everyone is different and improvement levels over time also vary since there are so many variables.  Variables to consider are:  what are you doing everyday to reinforce the movement that is at the root of the pain; what related postures do you also need to pay attention to such as forward head, rounded shoulders, hyper-extended knees; …..

  • Davien Littlefield says:

    what is that wonderful matt?

  • susan koenig says:

    It's a great mat, I think created by a Feldenkrais person.  Here's what the label says and that is also how I bought it online: Debbie Ashton; www.wellmats.net; [email protected]; 865-690-9548 or 888-935-6287.  good luck!

  • Kate Laurie says:

    Susan, thank you for sharing here or otherwise I may have never learn of these techniques. 

  • Felicity says:

    Lovely. Concise and very clear instruction, Thank you!

  • Ali says:

    Lovely exersizes. I think you should be aware though that you are doing three repetitions or 'reps' on each side, NOT three sets. When you already know many of the common psoas stretches these are a few nice additions.

  • sharon gonzales says:

    Thank you!!!

  • wai teng yang says:

    Thank you Susan for sharing…. will try this definitely!

  • Lowpro says:

    Thank you for the video Susan! 🙂

  • Rustom Kambata says:

    Thank you Susan Koenig for this most important demosntration. I have certainly gained a new insight today.

  • LevityLia says:

    Ohhh thank you thank you!

  • Karly Schmitt says:

    Thank you Susan! I enjoyed the exercises! 🙂

  • miguel c says:

    not understand english

  • Betty Lenora says:

    Thank you for this beautiful, well done video~~ <3

  • Matthew Johnson says:

    I'm a trucker. Going to try this. Sounds like something all truck drivers need. God Bless you!

  • Uncontrollable Love says:

    I have an office job and I am an active athlete, last season I started to feel discomfort in my soas while squatting and sprinting. from what I have read it seems that I have poor ankle mobility and soas tightness. Thank you for this video I am going to work on this. Thank!

  • Eric Nathan says:

    Thank you!

  • Nancy Lamb says:

    Thanks so much. I'd gotten so much better, but with increases walking came increased pain on rising. I'm looking for some psoas release so that this can be healed. I've done Physical Therapy for months, and this exercise was included in her repertoire except she didn't include the arched back. Seems to me I get a negative response from the psoas if I do low lunges, back bridges, or anything that truly stretches. Last night, after doing bridge, and this exercise, I went to stand up and actually screamed in pain.

  • Lenka Manning-Warder says:

    Great and it looks very helpful( I haven't tried it yet) One question, do you do all the moments on both sides? Thank you for posting.

  • Didi Cudby says:

    that's helpful, thank you. I had never considered how damaging the habit of sitting at the computer was causing this problem. Thanks for making me aware of the pattern and showing a simple and gentle way to counter it :o)

  • susan koenig says:

    Thank you. Yes, after hours of sitting we can easily develop this pattern. And this movement is a very good way to release out of it. Do it often!

  • SFC says:

    is it possible i have breathing problems, like short breathing and anxiety because of psoas tightness? i found out today that there might be a connection. anybody had the same problem? should i just do the releases and no stretching or? great video btw 😀

  • NasTime says:

    Thank you.

  • Adriana Allegri says:

    Thanks so much for this video. Question: My mom can't get down onto the floor, because getting up is a problem. Do you see any problems with her doing this in bed? Thanks!

  • Brandon Roskelley says:

    I notice that to bring your knee back up from extension you externally rotate, then flex the knee and hip, then adduct the femur to bring it back to the starting position. Why is that?

  • ronna berezin says:

    Thx so much. Verrrrry helpful for my sore rt. hip. I had a friend in high school with the same name as you! ( Woodrow Wilson High School in Wash.,D.C.

  • Ron Posvar says:

    My Dear Lady, I did not even know what the Psoas muscles were. Thank you. I just started with the three on each side. Is there an amount of these that you recommend to do each day? Thank you again!

  • kishanabear says:

    can you please tell me about the blue floor mat you're using? name/brand! it looks like just what I need! thank you.

  • Joyful Stones says:

    Thank you !

  • françoise turlure says:

    tres attentive à celà ! car j'en aie souffert ! si possible j'aimerai la traduction en français !

  • Gladys Fuentes says:

    I have fallen 2 times in 2 months, I am operated of the meniscus of right knee. I do work out, and do Yoga once a week. As a senior I do Silver Sneakers, so we stretch a bit. My friend said maybe my Psoas was weak, and after reading about the muscle, when I fell I just 90 degrees and fell on my right side. From the explanation here I may have a weak psoas muscle, but will find out soon.After Dr. says I can return to my routine of exercises. This video is good, and what I read about Yoga helped me a lot. Thanks so much.

  • Gladys Fuentes says:

    Well today I went to the Orthopedic and told me I had bone on bone, arthritis and needed a knee replacement…Not good, but will check this out…

  • serena swanson says:

    Can exercising this muscle help with Sciatic nerve problems?

  • Wonder Breed says:

    recently got a new desk job and it's been about 3 weeks and my back has already started killing me. I soon realized it was my posture and that I need to change something immediately. I have also noticed a pain in my right testicle when sitting down or laying down that goes on and off. completely random. I feel like this coupled with other stretches will help me get out of this rut thank you Susan. I will give this a try. would you recommend any other simple stretches for posture?

  • Jenny says:

    Seems like there are few DVD instructions for somatics. Can you suggest one?

  • Bill Lee says:

    I was having such terrible pain in my right leg and lower back that I was desperately searching for some idea how to get relief. Your video was so simple i had doubts that it would be helpful at all but nothing else had worked so I tried it. By tbe time i had completed the exercise my leg had stopped hurting and my back had eased up. I was shocked! Witbin 15 minutes I could feelnthe pain sneaking up again in mynleg so i repeated the exercise and it webt completely awzy and my lower back eased up even more. I am writing this commemt 24 hours later and the pain inmy leg has not returned!! My lower back is slightly sore but not so tight as it usually is. I am going to do this everyday. I feel like I have a tool that will let me manage my pain now. Thank you so much!!!

  • Clover Clover says:

    Where did you get your mat? What brand is it?! I want to buy one exactly like the one you have!

  • redneckgirl587 says:

    I am hoping this will help me. I was told I had bone spurs in my lower back on both sides also in the middle of my lower back between the two spurs is very tender. I sit at a desk and i didn't realize the damage I am doing to my body. I am definitely going to move more often and try this when I get home at night. Thank you for the video

  • Eddie George says:

    usually after sleeping I feel this the worst

  • FRESHENDEAVOUR says:

    Hi, I can't wait to try this out, I have a weak back // multifidus muscle and overactive hip flexors and glutes. Will I need to stretch the piriformis as well as the psoas? Thanks

  • Excuses Begone says:

    101716

  • potato psoas says:

    My right foot is like adjacent to the rest of my body when I do this exercise :/

  • interlina says:

    Muchas gracias por compartir este ejercicio, trabajo sentada gran parte del día y realmente me están molestando mis lumbares, veremos como evoluciono con estos ejercicios.

  • Ashley L says:

    I'm very confused. This isn't working for me. My back stays arched the whole time. I can't get it to go flat against the floor without tensing up the psoas muscle.

  • Peter Hoatson says:

    This is really helpful, thank you

  • jon compu says:

    Thank you for the video! It has been quite helpful.

    When you bring your leg up from having it out straight, you flare the leg outwards from the body as you bring it up again. See 2:55. Is this a personal preference, or is there a specific reason?

  • Maida Beslagic says:

    Thank you Susan, I will try your way and soon let you know.

  • Sebastian Helm says:

    you remind me of the yoga inmate from orange is the new black 😀 good video!

  • Rollo Q says:

    Shaking when doing this. Is my hip flexor the problem instead of psoas?

  • Corns Ronald says:

    I bought instruction from Unflexal and I learned about workouts.

  • Lynn S says:

    Hi would you recommend stretching with acute groin pain

  • Marie Mac says:

    I'm a dental hygienist. I also have a lot of macular issues. long story short, I feel a lot of pain upper thigh by hip joint. can this be caused by the same thing? also lower back left side pulling. thanks

  • VIP Chiropractic says:

    great simple video, well said.

  • Carole Linstead says:

    this has helped me a lot thank you is there a movement to help a sore tailbone

  • Jennifer Reid says:

    I'm going to try this. I've been having trouble with my psoas on and off since 2010. I've been to physio, and the stretches help but this past 1.5 weeks has been difficult. While my job involves some desk duty, a lot of it is field work. Unfortunately the district I provide services to is 4 hours away in one direction. I need to be better at stretching daily, and not only when the pain kicks in. I'll let you know if this helped.

  • Isabelle Bouchard says:

    When I extend, the glute of that leg becomes contracted. Is this a problem? Normal? Not recommended?

  • Claudia Mejia says:

    Thank you

  • Susan B says:

    thank you! i was in pain for 6 days and on the verge of tears

  • Deb Walker says:

    Could these exercises be done on a bed? My Dad, at 89 does not get onto the floor well. Thanks! Deb

  • janna7207 says:

    I liked your video but it is unhelpful because you don't talk in simple english so I can't understand it enough to use it.

  • Mason 1 says:

    My back goes out every couple weeks. Delayed onset, 1 day cant walk, 2nd crawling,3 on my feet shuffling, 4th day almost normal , 5th day ok but fearful of re-injury guarded movements, 2-3 week muscle spasm and back to square 1. Rinse and repeat.

  • Naveen Ahmad says:

    When I straighten my leg slowly there is a sound (kind of tug of bone , hard to explain ) is the hip flexor too tight ?

  • Adam Wilkey says:

    I can't thank you enough. I tried this last night before I went to bed and this morning, while I was stretching, something realigned and most of the pain went away. I've had pain for almost 4 years and tried almost everything to release this muscle. You are an angel. Thank you!

  • Luke Skywalking says:

    Hi Susan. What is that blue pad you have? Been looking for something like that!

  • Erik Gordon says:

    I feel my hips clunking when i do these

  • German says:

    JRE brought me here

  • Florence flo says:

    trés bonne vidéo c'est dommage que ce n'est pas en français 🙁

  • Kelly Garringer-Maccabe says:

    Thank you for posting this!!! I didn't have any luck with the first method but then I tried the variation and it worked immediately. Going to be doing this more often.

  • Thow Guandong says:

    I've been dealing with this for 4 years, constantly pain on my QL and hip psoas muscles. What should I do for exercise?

  • Shan Ra says:

    Wow! Thank you Susan, I've been stuck in bed because I couldn't get up. After watching several videos yours hit the spot. I was able to get up and stand up after a few hours. I will continue this exercise, thank you! thank you! thank you!

  • Cody Hoard says:

    Thank you!!! Gonna do this as part of my yoga routine

  • ImWatchingYew says:

    right side psoas is very tight….the biggest problem doing this exercise is the GLUTES not working when trying to lift the leg up….

  • Shiva Kasi says:

    I really don't know from where to start the comment. In 2010 I got a sedentary job as medical transcriptionist and I am very happy for that. In just 8 months I started gaining weight, then I started doing workouts. One day while I am playing cricket I started getting acute shortness of breath and I really do not what is the reason. Later I went to night shifts and I started getting dry cough. I suffered from it for at least 6 months. I went for all medical examinations, but all are negative. Even though I started doing exercises with shortness of breath I use to gain weight. First time in my life I got severe snoring. Later I developed ringing in the ears and acne on my back. All of these happened one after another. I am unable to sweat as I used to before. I struggled a lot with acid reflux too. I am telling all of this because I just had one problem i.e. my psoas muscle. After 8 years of struggling I came to know that due to long hours of sitting my hip flexors became shorter. Whenever I stretch my psoas muscle then I use to breath easy. Now I am working on stretching the psoas muscle. I just want to ask you one question. Can I stretch my psoas by taking diet whey protein so that it will strengthen that muscle?

  • Shanna Folden says:

    👍

  • Bill Kruse says:

    These have been a help to me, thank you 🙂

  • aphrospice says:

    Your yoga mat is the perfect thickness – how do I get one?!

  • Heythere Stand says:

    Awesome!!

  • Nadine Gehrke says:

    It's feldenkrais right!?

  • filledb says:

    Thank you..

  • heavenlymxss says:

    I went to the chiropractor about a month ago with this terrible back pain that wouldn’t go away, and she told me that my psoas had spasmed, she fixed it and the back pain got worse, then better within a few days, but now I think i’m having the same issue, so if i’m going to keep doing it, i might as well figure out how to fix it myself. thank you for this 💕

  • simon woods says:

    Thank you for this. I think I shortened my psoas muscles doing sit-ups on an incline board. My problem was aching on the left side of the lower back.

  • susan swaan says:

    Also look at maximizing awareness those are the best for all kinds of troubles with muscles

  • susan swaan says:

    Thank you for your helping video ❣

  • Termén Termén says:

    Looks simple. But after doing these movements I felt like I have been excercising my back for hours😁. Hoping on the result. Thank you

  • Termén Termén says:

    Can you recommend smth to unblock the following: upper left side of pelvis ( I do not know if it is pelvis or psoas). It is blocked and influences my hip and knee. Or maybe it is my hip that is blocked. No idea

  • Metin Altan says:

    thank you . Its really help me

  • Jimmy Vu says:

    My hips pop when i do these exercises is that normal? 🙁

  • The Counselor says:

    2:21

  • Althea Fallon says:

    Thank you for this video. I've been trying it and it works. Awesome. I like combining it with this: tinyurl.com/y39oem54 that i'm doing too and they work wonders for me. It's incredible how lose hips can make a really deep change in your life, not just jump higher but feeling lose and light as well. Thank you again_;)

  • Wee Al's Wheels says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to demonstrate this movement, I feel the heal & can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel 🙏

  • Eric S says:

    Had to pause at 2:12 to make sure those sirens weren't coming from my end

  • Sugamelt Pastries & Coffee says:

    Spot on explanation. Exactly what happens to my father in law. Going to share the video. Thank you very much

  • Daniel Morley says:

    Hi I am constantly tensing my pelvic floors muscles can this help?

  • Travis Y says:

    Great video

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