The Thomas Stretch

I’ve been playing with this movement for the last several weeks and I love how it’s worked, for myself and my clients. It may just be because of where our referrals come from, but if we tallied the number of clients that walk in the door either stuck in an anterior tilt or with some form of S/I joint rotation, it would comprise at least 80% of the clients that we see. With that being the case it can come as no surprise that we are constantly searching for more effective ways to reestablish healthy pelvic stability. This particular movement has two primary roles. First and foremost it encourages pelvic control through the core, in a distant second it provides a very unique psoas stretch. To gauge its effectiveness first lie flat on your back with legs extended, make note of how high your low back is arched.

Now, begin the stretch. It is essentially a rip off of the Thomas test, but adapted for daily homework. We start by having the client, lying supine with the feet pulled back and flat to the floor, roll the hips into a hard anterior tilt. This has a two fold purpose: #1 it teaches the client about pelvic control, #2 it puts the anterior core on stretch. That stretch encourages the activation we’re looking for. Step two the client draws the pelvis into posterior tilt by being encouraged to draw the hips to the ribs (if a client struggles with body awareness we have them place their thumbs on their ASIS and feel “pulling their hips to their ribs”). Once the client has their hips and ribs in alignment we have them slide their heel out, as the leg straightens they are encouraged to feel for/prevent any shift of the hips away from the ribs. If the psoas is problematic they should feel a stretch just inside of their hip bone. Let the leg rest in that position 2-5 seconds, then pull the heel back and repeat 3-5 times. If the pelvis stays still and you feel no stretch after 2-3 tries, switch sides. That side is not the issue. After 3-5 reps, or as needed, on each side, go back to supine and recheck the arch of your low back. I’m willing to bet it is more relaxed.

I know that I have personally struggled with Psoas dysfunction on my right side for nearly eight years now. I’ve done stretches, had it released by very good manual therapists, acupuncturists, and treated by chiropractors. I’ve often found short term relief, but it was always temporary. None have felt as good as this move. I can not provide any clinical data as to its effectiveness, nor can I quote any of the brilliant leaders in our field. I can just encourage any of you stuck in an anterior tilt or dealing with S/I joint rotation to try it out. I can only hope you get the same positive results that both myself and my clients have gotten. Please try it out, and give me feedback, remember pelvic control is paramount. Like the rest of you, we are simply trying to learn. Thanks!

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