Select Page

When we sit in a kayak, our hips are typically below our knees, and our pelvis is tilted forwards underneath our ribcage. This position causes your hipflexors your iliopsoas muscle strains to contract, and can put immense strain on your quadrutus lumborum, a muscle that runs parallel to your spine, connecting your 12th rib and your pelvis. The posture we assume when we sit in a kayak actually contradicts the natural position of your spine and pelvis, and can lead to tightness, pain and discomfort across your lower back and SI joint that is common in many kayakers.

Your SI (sacroiliac) joint is a complicated beast. It is located in your lower back at the junction of your pelvis, and your sacrum- a section of fused joints at the base of your spinal column. We use our SI joint to lift our legs or pull them forward, such as when we walk, as well as moving from sitting or standing. Our SI joint is responsible for what allows us to tilt our pelvis, and is engaged every time we get in or out of our kayaks. While the Injury to your SI joint through impact (running waterfalls) or repetitive stress (such as kayaking all day, every day) can cause Sacroiliac joint dysfunction, a fancy name for chronic tightness and a dull ache across the lower back and hips.

The Quadratus Lomboroum bends the body sideways and back towards our midline. These two muscles lie next to eachother, and interact greatly. They even share the same origination point on the same costal proceses, the little bony spurs on the outside of your spinal column. While the Quadratus Lomborum doesn’t have the same function or importance of the Psoas, if one of these twin muscles is affected by ttightness or injury, the other one is too.

Today I want to share one of my favorite stretches to target this region. It is easy, and great for beginners as it doesn’t require loads of flexibility. Even if you have never injured your SI joint, I recommend giving this stretch a try.

Start in a seated position. Allow your left leg to extend out long, rotated so your kneecap is facing up. Bend your right knee, and bring your right insole to meet you left inner thigh. Your right kneecap should be pointed out to the right and the toes on your left foot are flexed, reaching back towards your belly button.

Inhale, lift your torso up out of your hip socket, creating length and space in your spine. Exhale. Place your left fore-am on the ground to the inside of your left inner thigh, palm down. I like to bend my arm at the elbow, and keep my elbow towards my thigh, without bypassing my kneecap. If your arm doesn’t reach, don’t worry. Simply place your palm down and keep your arm parallel to your leg.

Inhale, and sweep your right arm into the gap between your left armpit and thigh. Exhale, and allow your right arm to open your chest as it reaches up to the sky. Your left ear can drop down towards the ground and your gaze looks up at your top hand.
If you have shoulder issues, I recommend tucking your right thumb into your armpit and leading this stretch with your elbow. You may feel the stretch intensify if you think about pressing your elbow back behind you, as if it was coming up against and invisible wall.

Hold and breathe here for 5-10 breaths. Exhale as you lower your arm, bring your left foot in to meet your right foot, coming into a butterfly stretch before extending your right leg and beginning the stretch on the opposite side.

Jai Bhagwan and Happy Paddling!