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Monday Mobility: Pumping Up The Psoas

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

Have you ever tried to stretch your hip flexors only for them to stick two fingers up at you and grip tighter than ever?

Yet, if those hip flexors are tight, then you should be able to lift your knee up high right?


Very wrong.

There are a few muscles that can be though of as hip flexors, but the one that gets all the attention is the Psoas.

If you look at this beautiful piece of art from Danny Quirk, you see the psoas journey from the attachments on the spine, down through the bowl of the pelvis and insert onto the inside of the femur:

The caption on the artwork refers to the diaphragm, your breathing muscle. Take a moment to notice how the top of the psoas and the bottom (rearmost) section of the diaphragm seem to cross over.

Do you think that could be significant?

I do.

If you aint breathing well, if your diaphragm isn’t doing it’s thing, then are we able to create intra abdominal pressure and generate power from the spine? Probably not, so the psoas then has to do the spine stabilising bit, which ties up a lot of it for the hip flexing work.

So, first, read Breathing An Instruction Manual this will open in a new tab.

We can, like all muscles, work on targeted strength training, which in most cases is much more useful than stretching.

To do this we pull our knee in towards the centre of our chest. Do your best not to let it track out towards the shoulder, and move in a controlled manner.

Here’s BJJ Champion Seb preparing his psoas prior to getting under the bar for squats:

And here’s Kyokushin Karate champion Aneta alternating psoas activation with Deadlifts:

Both these athletes are very strong, so they are pulling against bands, you my find the weight of your leg to be plenty and will add bands only if appropriate.

Try a half dozen reps or so per side before any activity that requires flexing or extending the hip, see if this helps.

And please, work on breathing using any of the many styles available.


Dave Hedges

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