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.
- Lay the folded towel or pillow on the floor. If necessary, hold on to a chair, wall, or any stable object.
- Go down into a lunge position with your lower knee on the towel.
- 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.
- Let your hip sink down.
- Keep your abs braced, imagining stabilizing your pelvis, and don’t allow them to sag outward.
- Make sure your pelvis does not tilt forward.
- Hold for 2 minutes, then switch sides. Do at least 3 stretches on each side, or as many as you comfortably can.
- 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:
- Reach back and take the ankle of the lower leg.
- Pull your foot up and toward your body.
- Keep your back straight and your pelvis square.
- Squeeze the glute of the leg you’re stretching.
- Hold for 2 minutes or as long as you comfortably can (you can work up to this of course).
- 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!