Ow, My Iliopsoas

Since about 2 or 3 weeks after the birth, I’ve had a persistent soreness in my hip flexors. Do I have “Iliopsoas Syndrome”? Sheesh.

How about this: I’ve started sitting a lot, much more than I’d prefer, especially given all the relaxin still in my system. Let’s call it “Breastfeeding a Newborn Syndrome”, also characterized by enlarged shoulder muscles, upper back pain, and chronic sleep deprivation.

Anyway. This is eminently fixable. I rounded up a bunch of exercise-based remedies from sources around the web and collected them here.

Lunging

The key to dynamic stretching of the hip flexors is to do lunges while holding the arms overhead, says this guy. Overhead lunges help pull on the fascia (the sausage-casing sort of stuff around your muscles) of the iliopsoas enough to help the muscle release and achieve a deeper, more meaningful stretch.

Bonus: overhead lunges can be filed under “Exercises To Traumatize Your Baby With”.

Stretching

When I described the kind of pain I was having, my yoga teacher immediately suggested that I work on elongating the hamstrings, not just stretching the iliopsoas as I’ve been doing. Good yoga poses for stretching the hamstrings are the usual suspects (quoted from an article warning against overstretching without strengthening the hamstrings, actually):

On an average day, do you do lots of poses that stretch your hamstrings? Do you do many standing forward bends, like Uttanasana and Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend), and many seated forward bends? Chances are, the answer is yes; most students include quite a few of these poses in each practice session. Several other standing poses also lengthen the hamstrings, including Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) and Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose). And let’s not forget Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose). If you practice Ashtanga Yoga, Power Yoga, or a similar flowing yoga style, you probably do dozens of Down Dogs every time you’re on the mat. All of this stretching can cause the hamstrings to become very flexible and even overstretched in relation to the other leg and hip muscles.

And these work for the iliopsoas:

  • Pigeon pose
  • Upward frog pose
  • Rolfing

    Doesn’t count as exercise, of course, but Rolfing (a bodywork technique named after Ida Rolf, its creator) bears mentioning because of its relationship to loosening the fascia. This blogger, Heather, mentioned it in her quest to eliminate the hip flexor pain she’s been experiencing post-partum.

    I’ve never had Rolfing done before but I’ve always wanted to try. Tends to be expensive, though, and we’re anything but flush right now since I’m not working. File under “Motivations to Start Making Money Again”…

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