Block Lunges: Quadriceps Release, Psoas Release and More
Block lunges are an exercise that was invented, I am pretty sure, by yoga teacher extraordinaire Jenny Otto. I credit these exercises for a lot of the length I have been able to get in the back of my body over the last few years. It used to be that when I would lay down on the floor the backs of my thighs and knees would be up off of the floor. After obsessing on block lunges in my own practice for a while the backs of my legs released down to the floor and have never popped back up.
We all tend to be short and tight in the muscles of the back and long and lax in the muscles of the front. With the quadriceps we can add in “full of tension” as they are asked to do a lot of the work of holding us upright when we have bad posture.
If you stand with your pelvis tucked as I think everyone does, the leg bones are forced forward and they take the quadriceps muscle with them. This stretches the quadriceps beyond its normal length but also fills it with tension as much of the weight of the upper body sits in the groins.
Block lunges essentially smush your quadriceps until it lengthens. When it lengthens the femur, or thigh bone, is able to move backwards a little changing the relationship of the hamstring to the bone, which gives it more space to stretch. The psoas release in this pose can be very benificial for lower back pain.
I have two more posts about this stretch. One of them discusses my take on a tight hamstring, and the other talks about the golgi tendon organs which are the proprioceptor (yet another post) that inhibits stretching in the body. The golgi tendon organ is something we are kind of trying to trick into changing when we work on block lunges.