Specific exercises for each of the alignment problems discussed in this chapter are readily available elsewhere. However, I have found that information on two areas seems to be limited or erroneously covered in popular sources. The first area is the lengthening of the iliopsoas, and the second is toe touching.
The stretching of the iliopsoas is probably the most neglected area of possible difficulty. Few people have ever heard of this muscle, although it contributes to countless backaches every year.
The iliopsoas is attached to the inside of the vertebral column in the region of the lower back (lumbar area), passes over the front of the bony pelvis, and then runs downward and attaches to the inside of the upper leg bone (femur). Therefore, the iliopsoas is somewhat like the tight strings of a cello (figure 5.7). When this muscle shortens, it pulls the small of the back forward and down, leading to a sway in the back and increasing the pressure on the vertebral column. (Because the vertebral column is such an important part of the body, a medical evaluation should be completed before a person performs exercise that involves this area.)
Here are three exercises that can be used to help keep the iliopsoas muscles lengthened:
- Flattening the small of your back while lying flat: Try to keep your thighs (iliopsoas attachment) on the floor while attempting to hold your lower back on the floor. The flattening of the back is accomplished by contracting the abdominal muscles (figure 5.8). The ability to execute this exercise with ease is used as an evaluation of the length of the iliopsoas.