Hook Lying for Safe Release of Back Muscles

A woman performs the pelvic tilt exercise in hooklying.
A woman performs the pelvic tilt exercise in hooklying. Forgiss

Hook Lying Position 

If you're like me, you feel like throwing protocol - sit in chair, endure pain - out the window when your back hurts. You just want to lie down on your back and let the muscle tension drain away. Well now you can, with "hook lying." (Just don't let your boss see you.)

Hook lying is often recommended as a great way to relax back muscles. Just lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

An alternative hook-lying position is one in which you place your lower legs up on the edge of a chair, bed or other raised surface that is large enough to support your legs and feet.

Hook Lying's Effect on Spinal Motion

With your knees bent, your spine tends to flex. In the hook-lying position, the flex will likely be pretty minimal. Just the same, if you have disc problems, this position may bring on your symptoms. If it does, stop the activity. Hook lying may not be the position for you.

To help support your back while hook lying, you might think about relaxing your quadriceps muscles, which are located at the front of your hip joints. Just let the weight of your thighs sink into your hip sockets. The weight of your legs into your hips may help you maintain a small (desirable for good posture and back health) anterior tilt of your pelvis, which has the effect of slightly arching your lower back.

Related: Stretch Your Quadriceps Muscles

If you have spinal arthritis, facet pain or another condition in which you feel more pain or irritation when your low back is in extension, please monitor your comfort level as you work with the sinking-thigh technique. It's important to stop if it causes any pain.

The reason: Back arching (even small amounts of it) may make symptoms associated with these types of conditions worse.   Most of the time this equates to problems in the back of the spinal column or vertebrae.


Kinser, C., Colby, L.A., Therapeutic Exercise: Foundations and Techniques. 4th Edition. F.A. Davis Company. Philadelphia, PA. 2002.

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