The psoas major and iliacus muscles, sometimes referred to as the iliopsoas, are important hip flexors. The iliacus originates from the inner surface of the pelvis. The psoas arises from the lumbar spine. The two muscles share a common insertion on the upper thigh bone. When they contract, they draw the front of the thigh and the trunk toward each other, flexing the hip joint.
Lying Leg Raises
Leg raises strengthen the iliopsoas. Begin lying on your back on a mat. Place your hands under your buttocks to stabilize your pelvis. Without letting your lower back lift, pull your knees toward your chest, then straighten your legs back to the starting position. To increase the resistance, try the exercise with straight legs. To increase the difficulty, do leg raises on an incline board. The steeper the angle of the board, the more challenging the exercise will be.
Hanging Leg Raises
Hanging leg raises also target the iliacus and psoas major. Start hanging from a pull up bar with an overhand grip. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width. Bend your knees, pulling them up to hip height or higher, then extend your legs down to return to vertical. To increase the resistance, keep your legs straight as you raise them. A variation of this exercise can be done using ab straps to support your arms.
Situps target the abdominal muscles as well as the iliacus and psoas major. Lie on your back on a mat. Bend your knees, placing your feet on the floor. Interlace your fingers behind your head. Curl your upper body up from the mat, then lower down. If your feet lift from the floor, hook your feet under a support or have a partner hold them down. To increase the difficulty, do situps on an inclined board.
Scissor kicks work your iliopsoas through a short range of motion. Begin by lying on your back on a mat. Place your hands under your buttocks to stabilize your pelvis. Raise one leg from the floor, keeping the knee straight. LIft the other leg slightly off the floor. Switch the position of the legs, and continue, alternating legs in a scissor kicking movement. To make the exercise easier, let your heels alternately contact the floor with each repetition.
- Strength Training Anatomy; Frederic Delavier
- Exercise Prescription: Hip Flexors
- Muscles: Testing and Function; Florence Peterson Kendall
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