Sometimes we runners overdo it in the sagittal plane! As someone who is guilty of this, I really value getting into hip opening activities that will support my endurance activities. Running is a very sagittal plane-oriented activity and with endurance running, hip muscles that are big sagittal plane players can get “bossy” and take charge just a little too much! As an endurance athlete and a physical therapist, I truly believe that one of the top muscular culprits of “tight hips” and painful limitations is the Iliopsoas, “psoas”for short. The Psoas is a powerful hip flexor and covers a lot of structural distance, originating from the 12th thoracic and lumbar vertebrae and inserting on the upper femur. Tightness of the psoas can functionally increase both low back extension and anterior pelvic tilt. Knowing this, you can understand why it’s important to properly stretch this muscle when you are covering a lot of ground in your running shoes!!! Here are some ways you can keep your “bossy” Psoas in check:
- Static STRETCH: Get into the position (shown by the skeletal model above:) with the stretching leg kneeled (knee touching floor). Maintain your pelvis in neutral and lean forward until you feel a good, strong pull over the front of your hip. Hold stretch for at least 30 seconds, repeat 3-4X. Switch legs.
- Targeted muscular Iliopsoas RELEASE: This requires a deep approach underneath the stomach. Find a skilled therapist who can do it for you and teach you how to successfully do it yourself. Releases are performed with deep, direct, sustained pressure on the muscle belly. You should be positioned on your back with your knees bent to place the muscle on slack.
- Dynamic STRETCHES: 1) Standing sideways leg swing (swinging leg crossing as far as possible side-to-side in front of standing leg for active hip opening, 2) “Spiderman stretches” (for a distance of 10 m, move forward into reciprocating lunges with the non-lunging leg stretched out to the side and upper body rotating away from stretching leg)