The iliopsoas is a group muscle: it is comprised of the psoas major, psoas minor and the iliacus. It’s attached along the lower spine of the back and comes down in front of the hips over the rim of the pelvis before going down to the inner thigh.
Not stretching is one of the reasons why the iliopsoas gets torn. Putting a lot of tension on this muscle without warming it up before a workout can be fatal. Its complete recovery can take up to 6 months with a compulsory break of a month.
- So what is the best way to prepare the iliopsoas before a workout?
- And how to effectively stretch it in order to prevent injuries?
Here is a snapshot of 3 tips recommended for a better use of the iliopsoas.
Never stretch the iliopsoas before a workout
Most people think that stretching the body before a workout is the best preparation for their muscles. Especially if they are planning on an intense workout. Stretching will cool down the muscles.
We want to warm up; activate blood flow, increase the heart rate and elevate body temperature. For this we need to move, not lay and stretch. Ballistic movements within a dynamic stretch routine are the best. Jumping jacks, leg lifts, high knee and butt-kicks are the perfect combinations to jump start the body. Start gently and then accelerate the tempo. this needs to be done for 5-7 minutes before getting into the real workout: it should feel sweaty almost like a pre-workout.
Work your iliopsoas with eccentric movements
So when is it a good time to stretch the iliopsoas?
Three to five hours away from the workouts when the body is at a normal temperature. Using foam rollers, lacrosse balls and increasing our mobility has become popular. It is a good habit to have but it is best to avoid massaging and compressing the iliopsoas.
Eccentric contractions cause muscles to elongate in response to a greater opposing force. We need to do eccentric movements to lengthen the muscle in preparation for the following WOD. Pausing for about 30 seconds on a stretch position is beneficial overtime. Don’t expect the muscles to elongate after two days. It takes a while and a lot of repetition to educate the iliopsoas.
Relax the iliopsoas: don’t try to control it
According to our fellow yogis who are highly educated on the iliopsoas, this particular muscle is more than a machine to squat, sprint and crunch. It is a center of energy and a recipient for trauma.
They believe if the iliopsoas is not healthy a lot of damage can occur in the rest of our body: lower-back pain, hip pain, groin pain, bladder problems, constipation, poor circulation, leg-length discrepancy, scoliosis, bad menstrual cramps.
Therefore, instead of trying to control and strengthen it, it needs to be relaxed. Simply lying on the back, with the knees bent for a couple of minutes to half an hour can influence and harmonize the much needed iliopsoas.
Photos: Laurent Wallard