Stretch of the Week: Psoas Opener

by AthleticoLeave a Comment

During the month of May we will be focusing on a crucial muscle involved in low back pain, our psoas muscle. Back in December we addressed our quads and hip flexors (please feel free to check back through our Stretch of the Week archive for those stretches!), which did get into the psoas a little, but this month we will try to isolate it. For the first week we will start with a gentle psoas opener, it’s a variation of what’s called a Bridge in the exercise world.聽

What you will need for this stretch: a yoga mat, a strap, and a wool blanket or a yoga block. If you don’t have all of these items you can improvise with what you do have using a belt or a pillow in place of a strap or block. But if you have been following along with this blog or feel like you want to continue following along, I would highly recommend purchasing these items. You can get them very reasonably priced at Walmart or target, or even on Amazon. I guarantee that they will improve and enhance your stretching practice! 馃檪

There are really no constraints or restrictions聽for this stretch because it can be so gentle. If you experience low back pain I would suggest giving it a try. If it aggravates it in any way then stop doing it.

聽How to do the Psoas Opener:

  1. Start by sitting on your yoga mat. Take the strap and make a loop. The loop will be the same width as the yoga mat. The loop will go around the outside of both of your feet as shown in the first group of photos, in the bottom right corner. Once the strap is around your feet keep the feet the width of the mat so the tension stays on the strap. Then lower yourself down onto your back, knees will be bent.
  1. Here is where you will need the folded wool blanket or a yoga block. Everyone is different in what they can tolerate during a stretch. Using the blanket is extremely gentle. Using the block will intensify the stretch a little more. So if you know you have low back problems start with the blanket and progress to the block if it feels ok. If you don’t have any low back problems you can use the block instead. From laying on your back, lift your hips to the ceiling, just like a bridge. Then place the blanket underneath your sacrum, as shown in the first set of photos in the top left corner. If you are using the block, put the block on its lowest height and place it underneath your sacrum, as shown on the top right photo.

Athletico May Stretch lower back

  1. From here straighten the legs and keep the tension on the strap by pushing into it with your feet. Then take you arms up over your head towards the floor. You can grab your elbows here or keep them straight.

Tip: be mindful of where you place the block. You don’t want it too high, digging into the low back. And you don’t want it too low digging into the lower half of the glutes and hamstrings, as shown in the photo below. It should feel comfortable, just right. The sacrum is right where the curve of your low back ends.Athletico Stretch of the week lower back

  1. Stay here for thirty seconds, up to a couple minutes depending on how you feel. If you aren’t feeling much of a stretch on the lowest block height then you can lift your hips and turn it to the second tallest height to increase the stretch, as shown in the bottom left photo in the first set of photos. Unless you are a practitioner of backbends I do not recommend turning the block on its tallest side for safety reasons.
  1. To come out of the stretch bend the knees, placing the feet on the floor, then lift the hips and remove the prop. Then let the low back rest on the floor for a few breaths to neutralize the back.

Questions? Email me at

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *