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Discover the top 14 things you’re doing that are damaging your bones.

Weekend Challenge: The Lunge Stretch

weekend-challenge

Today’s Weekend Challenge is an exercise that focuses on a seldom-mentioned but very important pair of muscles located deep within your core: the psoas (so-az) muscles. The Lunge Stretch works the hips and legs, but it has a myriad of bone health benefits that go well beyond your lower body.

You’ll be glad to know that this exercise offsets the unhealthy effects of sitting for long periods. It will also help you increase bone density more effectively, improve your posture, protect your spine, relieve lower back pain, and more.

Why: The psoas muscles are located deep in your core, one on either side of the lower spine, and they connect to the top of the femur. Because they are not superficial muscles, it’s easy to forget about their central role in balance and motion.

The Lunge Stretch tones and stretches the psoas. It’s excellent for correcting pelvic alignment because…

The Psoas Stabilizes Your Foundation

You might think that the waist is your “middle,” but the pelvis is actually your central point. You see, the pelvic bones act as a foundation for both basic and complex movements, and keeping them stable and aligned is vital for proper posture, better balance, and improved range of motion.

In fact, a rigid and tight psoas can pull your pelvis out of alignment, affecting your posture and range of motion. Also, a psoas that lacks tone allows the pelvis and lower vertebrae to slip out of line.

Stretch and Strengthen Your Psoas To Counteract The Damaging Effects Of Sitting

Our modern world demands a great deal of sitting in order to get things done. Consequently, our health, posture, and bones deteriorate from prolonged sitting day after day.

Among the problems induced by too much sitting are misaligned, weak psoas muscles.

Toning, stretching, and strengthening the psoas is a great way to offset the detrimental effects of our sedentary life, and will also help you to move with poise. In addition…

An Aligned Spine And Pelvis Are Essential For Increasing Bone Density

Here’s why: the action of muscle on bone is one of the primary mechanisms behind increasing bone density through exercise. So when bone and muscle are misaligned, you don’t reap the maximum benefits of density increasing exercises

You’ll get the most out of bone strengthening exercises when muscles pull the skeleton properly. In short, a misaligned skeleton can’t bear weight properly, making weight-bearing exercises less effective.

The Lunge Stretch Helps Your Bones In Many Ways!

As mentioned earlier, the Lunge Stretch tones and stretches the psoas muscles. In addition, this stretch:

  • Improves balance
  • Stabilizes skeleton
  • Aligns pelvis
  • Relieves some types of lower back pain
  • Reduces tension
  • Protects your spine via a more stable skeleton
  • Improves posture and gives you a more youthful gait
  • Relieves pressure on lower back caused by long periods of sitting

How: To do the Lunge Stretch, you’ll need a towel or small pillow.

  1. Lay the folded towel or pillow on the floor. If necessary, hold on to a chair, wall, or any stable object.
  2. Go down into a lunge position with your lower knee on the towel.
  3. Squeeze the gluteal muscle of your leg that’s on the towel while simultaneously pushing your knee down into the floor. If you’re comfortable with it, you can move your lower leg back as you deepen the stretch.
  4. Let your hip sink down.
  5. Keep your abs braced, imagining stabilizing your pelvis, and don’t allow them to sag outward.
  6. Make sure your pelvis does not tilt forward.
  7. Hold for 2 minutes, then switch sides. Do at least 3 stretches on each side, or as many as you comfortably can.

Tips:

  • Your back should be straight through this stretch.
  • Don’t let your pelvis tilt – keep it square.
  • Make sure your glute stays tight through the stretch.
  • Your lower back should not round out – you can place your hand on your back to make sure it’s straight.
  • The above move is the basic Lunge Stretch. Next I give you one variation that is just as beneficial, and may be a better match to your fitness level. Once you practice and get comfortable with the basic stretch, you can try the variation.

Variation: Combined Psoas And Quadriceps Stretch

Begin with the lunge position, and then:

  1. Reach back and take the ankle of the lower leg.
  2. Pull your foot up and toward your body.
  3. Keep your back straight and your pelvis square.
  4. Squeeze the glute of the leg you’re stretching.
  5. Hold for 2 minutes or as long as you comfortably can (you can work up to this of course).
  6. Repeat a total of 3 times or as many times as you comfortably can and switch sides.

There you have it! I hope you will practice these moves that will help you increase your bone density more effectively. As always, I’d love to hear what you think about this Weekend Challenge, so please leave your comments below.

Have a restful and fun weekend!

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29 comments. Leave Yours Now →

  1. Marguerite Tulett June 28, 2014, 2:36 pm

    In the lunge pose, should the front leg bend forward as long as the knee doesn’t extend past the end of the foot?

  2. Shahnaz May 4, 2014, 11:37 pm

    Hi Vivian
    I love to read and do whatever exercises my body can easily handle. I religiously follow your “save our bones” program. I wanted to know if this exercise should be ok to do with my knee arthritis?
    Please let me know.
    God bless you
    Shahnaz.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA May 5, 2014, 8:45 am

      I am so glad you’re enjoying the Weekend Challenges, Shahnaz! I can’t recommend whether an exercise is right for any particular individual, but I can tell you that if any exercise causes pain, stop. We don’t want you to hurt yourself!

  3. Chris Jackson April 26, 2014, 5:51 am

    Thank you so much for these exercises that give me hope as does your advice on eating habits. I will not take the offered medication and that is it as far as my gp is concerned. She will give me a dex scan in 3 yrs! No advise, no exercises. I have hypothyroid so am seeing my consultant. He has more interest and advise. Noone every told me that as a thyroid patient I had a greater risk of osteoporosis – if only………

  4. Ms. L. Carmel March 27, 2014, 12:17 pm

    Hi! Vivian,

    Thank You Very Much For The Weekend LUNGE STRETCH Exercise.
    Your Exercises Are Always Very Helpful!

    Take Care, And Stay Well.

    LOVE, LESLIE (MS. L. CARMEL)

  5. Laura March 24, 2014, 10:52 am

    I just learned about the psoas muscles 3 weeks ago from my chiropractor after a painful hip from misalignment and weak muscles. She taught me a slightly different stretch to do after sitting a long time. I am happy to add these to my repertoire. Thanks!

  6. ROWENA March 23, 2014, 11:58 pm

    Thanks Vivian – again !!!
    love getting information – feel great and your saveourbones book is something you can refer to often – especially if you go off the boil at times – reading it puts you back ontrack

  7. Liz Wallace March 23, 2014, 7:57 pm

    A video of this, and your first excellent exercises, would be appreciated so
    much.I’d be happy to buy one, as it’s too frustrating writing down steps(with rough sketches) and reading through…viewing would just be wonderful. Thanks Liz

  8. Barbara Handa March 23, 2014, 9:43 am

    Hi –

    The Physical Therapist commented that my Sacral Iliac Joint (left side) is not perfectly aligned and is causing constant discomfort. He mentioned that the psoas muscles needed to be strengthened. Are there additional exercises that I can do?

    Thanks for your help.
    Barbara

  9. Irmgard Santaiti March 23, 2014, 9:31 am

    I think it would be helpful if you had a brief video of each exercise. It would get us away from the computer quicker. Too much time spent sitting at the computer to try and figure out the technique. Thank you.

  10. william eigen March 23, 2014, 8:23 am

    Dear Vivian,
    You and your program are the very best of all the rest. I trust your stuff!!! Blessings on you and yours,
    “Grampa” Bill

  11. Ruth March 23, 2014, 7:16 am

    Vivian, These are very good stretches and will be trying them out today, my hip rotators have been very tight and these stretches should help. Thank you once again, for all your information. <3

  12. Kate Hackney March 23, 2014, 3:21 am

    I had two serious spinal ops just before Christmas, and find that trying the lunge stretch causes cramps in the backs of my legs from the base of the glutes all the way to the feet. I am 72 years old, but in reasonable physical condition, and have recovered well from the operations. Any other suggestions? Have much faith in you!!

  13. shula March 22, 2014, 10:44 pm

    That’s a nice stretch, feels good. Thanks.

  14. Jamala March 22, 2014, 10:01 pm

    This is great-thank you!

  15. Tina March 22, 2014, 7:33 pm

    When I was in Physical Therapy, I was told to only hold a stretch for 30 seconds max but to repeat 10 times. What do you think about that?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA March 22, 2014, 8:58 pm

      I say go with what your physical therapist recommends! :)

  16. EB March 22, 2014, 6:38 pm

    You are so awesome to share this information. Thanks again!

  17. LynnCS March 22, 2014, 6:35 pm

    So important to know these exercises and stretches. Thanks for the weekend posts. Very helpful. Lynn

  18. Diane Moodley March 22, 2014, 3:44 pm

    Sorry the exercise suggestion was for Laverne Clement with the total knee replacements

  19. Diane Moodley March 22, 2014, 3:41 pm

    I am a physiotherapist in London and I have a suggestion for Millie. You can do a psoas lunge on a step. Place one leg on the 2nd step. You can hold onto the stair rails for balance and gently lunge forward. Hold stretch for 20-30 sec and change legs. Vivien love your site .

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA March 22, 2014, 3:42 pm

      Great suggestion, Diane! I’m thrilled you’re a part of the Save Our Bones community and thank you for your kind words!

  20. LaVerne Clement March 22, 2014, 3:18 pm

    I would love to be able to do this stretch exercise, but I have bilateral total knee replacements and putting any pressure on either knee is very painful. Also, stretching my foot out as illustrated causes severe cramping in both my foot and calf. Do you have any other type of exercise for the Psoas ? Thanks for your time. LaVerne

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA March 22, 2014, 3:41 pm

      You should certainly stay away from any exercise that’s painful to you… You might want to try the Native Squat, which also helps stretch the hips and psoas. It’s especially good if you spend long hours sitting down:

      http://saveourbones.com/daily-double-challenge-day-2/
      Let us know if that works for you :)

  21. Millie March 22, 2014, 3:05 pm

    Vivian, thank you so much for these weekend challenges. I am incorporating them into my weekly routine. It is so good to know that I can add more exercises that benefit my bones. You are a God-send!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA March 22, 2014, 3:16 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoy the Weekend Challenge, Millie!! And I really thank you for your kind words!

  22. Marg March 22, 2014, 3:01 pm

    Re the psoas stretch: Is it OK to lunge forward on the front leg, bending the knee towards the toes ( but not past them) , or should we just keep still in the same spot with front leg always only vertical?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA March 22, 2014, 3:05 pm

      Great question, Marg! You can lunge forward as you describe in order to enhance the stretch. Just go slowly so as not to hurt the ligaments :)

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