Practice Point: Low Lunge & Supported Bridge

The hip flexors are the group of muscles that contract to let us bend forward at the hips bringing the thighs and trunk towards each other. Tight hip flexors are a source of much back pain in today's sedentary society.

Front hip muscles
by Beth Ohara - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Sitting for long periods can result in a shortening and tightening of the primary hip flexors, the psoas major and iliacus that connect the lumbar spine and pelvis, respectively, to the top of the thigh bone.

Tight hip flexors pull the pelvis forward leading to compression and arching in the lower back.

Hip flexor stretches help to counteract the effects of sitting all day.

This post describes two poses that frequently appear in my classes: the low lunge and the supported bridge.


Before you begin ...

These poses are not recommended if:

  • You have serious hip, back and neck conditions
  • You are pregnant and in your second or third trimester

Be cautious if you have:

  • Lower back, neck or knee problems
  • Balance problems
  • Heart conditions or uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Conditions, like glaucoma, that are exacerbated when there is increased pressure in the head

Low lunge

The low lunge can be performed from the floor or seated in a chair.

Low lunge from the floor

Low lunge from the floor

Low lunge from the floor
  1. Start from a ‘high’ kneeling position where the knees are about hip-width apart and the hips are above the knees (instead of kneeling back on the feet).

  2. Step forward with the right foot, checking that you haven’t twisted slightly and brought the right hip foward as well.

    If you feel unbalanced, take the right foot out a little wider, to the right.

  3. Stretch the left hip flexors by either:

    • Slowly bending the right knee to bring your weight foward, or

    • Slowly sliding the left foot back to bring the thigh closer to the ground

  4. If your torso is upright and you need more stretch, raise the left arm and bend to the right to stretch through the left side.

  5. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

Low lunge from the chair

Low lunge from the chair

Low lunge from the chair
  1. Choose a chair without arms and ensure it is stable and won’t topple over when you on the edge of the seat.

  2. Sit on the edge of the seat with your right buttock and thigh on the seat, right foot flat on the floor or on a foot rest (eg. blanket or book), and left leg off the edge.

    I like to sit on the front edge of the seat and hold onto the back for balance.

  3. Take your left foot behind you as far as comfortable without arching your back.

    You might like to flex the ankle and the toes under, or lay the top of the foot on the floor.

    You can also place padding or a block under the left knee to support it.

  4. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.


Be mindful of what's happening in your lower back. If your hip flexors are tight, you might be compressing and arching your lower back to bring your torso upright.

To avoid arching the lower back, try one of the following:

  • If you're doing the low lunge from the floor:
    1. Lean forward from your hips and place your hands on either side of your front foot.

      If needed, use blocks or books under your hands to support your weight.

    2. Lengthen the spine. Imagine drawing the tail bone and the crown of the head away from each other.
    3. Slide the back foot back, bringing the thigh towards the floor.
  • If you're doing the low lunge from the floor or the chair:
    1. Come out of the lunge and position your back knee under your hip.
    2. Lengthen the spine and engage the abdominals to brace the back.
    3. As you continue to brace the back, lean back slightly to lengthen through the front of the hip.

      If you're on the floor, you might like to try bending the front knee to bring your weight forward.

  • If you're doing the low lunges from the floor and have problems with your knees:
    • Use cushions or towels under your knees for padding
    • Ensure that the front knee is above or behind the ankle when you bend the knee to bring your weight forward. Aligning the knee over the ankle ensures your weight is supported by the lower leg.
  • Move slowly if you have back or hip problems. Functionally, the hip can't extend to a great degree (ie. you can't take your leg behind you too far) without twisting the hip back or arching the lower back.

Supported bridge

For this pose you will need a block or something similar that you can place under your pelvis when you lie down. If a block is too high try a book or rolled up blanket.

  1. Lie on your back and ensure that your block is within reach.

  2. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor.

  3. Lift your hips into the air, slide the block underneath the sacrum, and then lower your sacrum onto the block.

    The sacrum is the triangular, bony structure at the base of the spine. Resting your sacrum on the block should feel comfortable and stable. If not, adjust the position of the block ensuring that you don’t place the block under the lumbar spine.

  4. Bring your hands by the side and turn the palms up.

  5. If comfortable, try straightening one or both legs.

  6. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.

    If you are only straightening one leg, hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds for each side.

Supported bridge

Supported bridge

  • This is a strong stretch. If you have tight hip flexors, you might feel some pulling or arching in the back. In this case:
    1. Bend the legs and place the feet flat on the floor.
    2. Raise the hips off the block.
    3. Lower the body flattening the pelvis on the block.
    4. If straightening one or both legs still pulls or archs the back, this pose mightn't be suitable for you.
  • This pose holds the head in a flexed position. If you have a neck problem, consider the low lunge.
  • This pose is not recommended if you are pregnant or you have a condition, like glaucoma, that are exacerbated by increased blood flow to the head.


  • Improve hip flexibility
  • Alleviate hip and back pain related to prolonged sitting
  • Improve posture