How to Stretch the Hip Flexors and Psoas Muscles

How to Safely Stretch the Hip Flexors and Psoas Muscles

man doing hip flexor stretch on beach
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There are several different exercises used to stretch the hip flexors and psoas muscles. These are two of the basic stretches to get you started. Both are variations of the popular lunge exercise.

Before You Stretch

Prior to doing these stretches, warm up to avoid overstretching a cold muscle. Great ways to warm up include jumping jacks, skipping, side-stepping, running in place, or any dynamic movements that mimic whatever sport you do.

But since these stretches are done with the lower half of your body, it's best to choose movements that will make the muscles in the groin and inner thigh areas warm and pliable.

Beginner Hip Flexor Stretch 

  1. Stand in a split stance with your right front forward and your left foot straight back. Bend your right knee so that it is at about a 90-degree angle. This should put you into a forward lunge position. Place your hands on your forward knee.
  2. Press down with your hands and drive the hips forward until you feel a stretch from the front of your hip, groin and thigh on your left side.
  3. Hold the stretch for about 20-30 seconds, release and repeat on the other leg.

Advanced Hip Flexor Stretch (See Photo)

  1. Begin in a forward lunge position, as described in step 1 above, and drop your back knee to the floor.
  2. Place your hands on the forward leg. If you feel that your balance is steady, raise your arms and hands up over your head and look up.
  1. Press your hips forward and down toward the floor. You should be able to feel a stretch through your torso, hip, groin, and thigh.
  2. Hold the stretch for about 20-30 seconds, release and repeat on the other leg.

You can modify either of these stretches based upon your own anatomy, flexibility and limitations.

Be sure to keep your forward knee over or behind your ankle and not in front of your ankle.

Tips to insure proper form

Just as you can get injured doing sports and activities, you can also hurt yourself while stretching if certain precautions are not taken. One that has already been mentioned is: Warm-up by doing some sort of dynamic activity for at least 5 minutes. Others include:

Do not bounce. As this can tug on tendons and muscle insertion points instead of what you want to do, which is lengthen the muscle. In addition, bouncing can create small tears in the muscle, and as they heal scar tissue forms which can make the muscle more stiff and less flexible. Basically, bouncing can leads to hypermobile joints and muscle imbalances. Instead, use slow, smooth movements when performing your stretch.

Do not press down with great force. Just like bouncing, this can put unwanted pressure on the tendons, ligaments, and insertion points; thus making you more prone to injury or overstretching.

Do not hold your breathe while stretching. If we have learned anything from yoga, the breath can help you stretch deeper.

Inhale as you rest and exhale as you initially do the work.

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