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7 Best Psoas Muscle Exercises: Stretch and Strengthen Your Psoas

psoas muscle pain relief exercises


Whether you know it or not–you have a family member who could benefit from psoas muscle exercises.

How do I know this? 

We ALL have that family member who always lets out a big old groan after sitting on a chair for too long. 

Maybe it’s a grandparent, a parent, or the uncle you only ever see at Thanksgiving. 

OR maybe it’s you. 

If your lower back feels weak, or sore–especially after sitting for long periods of time–it could be because of your psoas

This muscle likes to start causing lower back pain for you, your grandparent, or your uncle–whenever sitting too long is involved. It doesn’t discriminate. 

That’s because the psoas is a muscle that runs from your lower back to your hips on either side of your spine. So, when you sit for hours on end tracking those Excel spreadsheets at work, your BANK may be better for it–but your BACK might not be. 

If you picture your psoas like a bicep, it can provide a helpful visual. Even if you just finished arm day at the gym and are feeling a crazy pump, you don’t walk around with your biceps flexed at a right angle all day. 

That would look ridiculous AND it would make the muscle super sore from being bent all day. 

The same thing applies to your psoas. 

When we sit too long, we keep the muscle in a bent position since it runs from the lower back to the hips. And when it stays bent for too long, it gets short, stiff, and weak

Today, we’ll focus on how to help your lower back pain by strengthening your psoas muscle through 7 psoas muscle exercises. 

psoas trigger points

7 Best Psoas Muscle Pain Relief Exercises

Your psoas works to bring your knee to your chest

This motion is also known as hip flexion, and if you think about it, we use this motion ALL the time. 

Every time we walk or run

Okay maybe some of you are thinking that you don’t use this muscle nearly as much as you should, but either way–this is an important muscle that deserves some attention and WILL act out if not attended to. [1] 

So, if your psoas muscle is feeling tight and sore, here are the steps to go through: 

  1. First, massage the muscle. You can do this using a tool such as the QL Claw. More on this later! 

  1. Next, stretch the muscle. We have a whole other article on this topic HERE for you to reference. 

  1. And once you massage and stretch the muscle, now it’s time to strengthen it to reduce the chances of it causing lower back pain and acting up again. We can do this by psoas muscle exercises. 

So, let’s explore 7 of the best psoas muscle exercises out there. 


Best Psoas Muscle Exercises #1: Side-Lying Hip Extension

psoas muscle pain relief exercises: side lying hip extension


How to Perform This Psoas Muscle Exercise

  1. Lie down on your side on a yoga mat, resting your elbow on the mat and using your hand to support your head. 

  1. Bring your top leg out in front of your body, bending your knee at a 90-degree angle. 

  1. Now, bring your bottom leg back behind your body, also bending this leg at a 90-degree angle with the bottom of your foot facing directly out. 

  1. Hold this pose for 15-20 seconds. 

This psoas muscle exercise is most effective when your glutes get involved, so be sure to contract them as you hold this pose for optimal psoas strengthening. 

Best Psoas Muscle Exercises #2: Lying Leg Raise

psoas muscle pain relief exercises: leg raise

How to Perform This Psoas Muscle Exercise

  1. Lie on your back on a yoga mat with your legs together, and your palms flat on the floor. 

  1. Keep a tight core as you raise both legs up in the air together. 

  1. Then, slowly lower back down. 

When you do this psoas muscle exercise, try to keep your hips and pelvis stable and avoid wobbling up and down as you raise your legs. 

Best Psoas Muscle Exercises #3: Boat Pose 

psoas muscle pain relief exercises: boat pose

How to Perform This Psoas Muscle Exercise

  1. Sit down on a yoga mat. 

  1. Now, stretch both arms out in front of you while also drawing your knees in toward your chest and elevating your feet. 

  1. Now, straighten your legs up and out–continuing to hold your arms straight out in front of you. 

  1. As you hold this pose, focus on pulling your shoulder blades down, puffing your chest, and bracing your core. 

  1. Hold for about 20 seconds. Then return to the starting position. 

Boat pose is one of the best psoas muscle exercises for strengthening those hip flexors, but if it’s feeling too daunting, you can also just keep your knees bent and shins straight out. This will make this psoas muscle exercise a bit easier on the psoas, core, and hip flexors in general. 

Best Psoas Muscle Exercises #4: Lying March With Resistance Band 

exercises for psoas muscle: lying march with resistance band

How to Perform This Psoas Muscle Exercise

  1. Place a small resistance band around your feet. 

  1. Then, use some resistance to keep your legs hip-width apart from each other. 

  1. Lie down on your back on a yoga mat. 

  1. Raise up both knees above your body, and bend them at a 90-degree angle. 

  1. Now, straighten your left leg fully, pressing into the resistance band. In the mean time, your right leg should remain at a 90-degree angle. 

  1. Hold this pose for a few seconds. Then, return back to the starting position. 

  1. Switch legs for the next rep, and repeat as needed. 

Like many other psoas muscle exercises, this one mimics the motion of walking or marching–remember, the thing the psoas helps us with in the first place. By using the resistance band, you can put a ton of focus into strengthening that psoas, and you’ll really feel it in your hip flexor muscles.


Best Psoas Muscle Exercises #5: Runner’s Pose With Resistance Band 

exercises for psoas muscle: runner's pose with resistance band

How to Perform This Psoas Muscle Exercise

  1. For this psoas muscle exercise, you’ll need a resistance band with an ankle strap, or one that can easily loop around your ankle. 

  1. Loop the resistance band on one side to a sturdy structure, such as a bench at a gym or a chair at home. 

  1. Use an ankle strap or loop the other side of the resistance band around your left ankle. 

  1. Now, go into a plank position on a yoga mat, putting some resistance on the band but allowing more room for it to stretch. 

  1. Bring your left knee up toward your chest. 

  1. Pause at the top of the motion. Then, slowly return to the starting position. 

  1. When you’re done working one side, go ahead and switch to the other leg. 

This psoas muscle exercise allows you to increase resistance by incrementally using a more challenging resistance band. 

Best Psoas Muscle Exercises #6: Standing March With Resistance Band 

exercises for psoas muscle: standing march with resistance band

How to Perform This Psoas Muscle Exercise

  1. Wrap a resistance band a few times around your left foot, leaving enough room to stretch it over to your other foot. 

  1. Loop one time around your right foot, and make sure there’s enough give on the resistance band for you to bring your legs hip-width apart. 

  1. Place a hand on a nearby chair or wall for support. 

  1. Now, bring the right knee up toward the chest. 

  1. Pause briefly at the top. 

  1. Then lower the foot back down to the starting position. 

  1. After your reps, switch the resistance band to work the left leg as well. 

Once again, we’re strengthening the psoas by bringing the knee closer to the chest in hip flexion. This takes walking or marching to a whole new level with that resistance band. And just like the other psoas muscle exercises with resistance bands, you can level up with a heavier-duty band whenever you need that extra push for your psoas muscle. 

Best Psoas Muscle Exercises #7: Frankenstein 

How to Perform This Psoas Muscle Exercise

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart–arms at your sides. 

  1. Now, raise your right arm–bringing it out in front of you. 

  1. At the same time, lift your left leg straight out, bringing it to your right hand. 

  1. Now, reverse it - so it’s your left hand meeting your right foot. 

This is the most active of the psoas muscle exercises, and you can give yourself some room to move around with this one. 


Psoas Muscle Stretches

We’re working in reverse order here. As I mentioned earlier, if you have a tight psoas, first you want to massage–then stretch–then strengthen

So, if you haven't taken the time yet to stretch your psoas, definitely do that before diving in to the psoas muscle exercises here in this article. 

We have a great article all about psoas stretches below: 

“Psoas Stretch: 6 Psoas Stretches That'll Shut Down Your Back Pain” 

Or you can also check out this great stretch to help lengthen your psoas muscle and help your hip and lower back pain. 

Psoas Muscle Stretch: Hip Flexor Couch Stretch

psoas stretch: hip flexor couch stretch

How to Perform This Psoas Muscle Stretch

  1. Set up a yoga mat in front of a couch. 

  1. Kneel down on the yoga mat. 

  1. Bring your left foot up behind you, resting the top of your foot on the couch for support. 

  1. Bring your right leg out in front of you, knee bent in a 90-degree angle, foot flat on the floor in a lunge stance. 

  1. Now lean forward with your torso, supporting your hands on your hips. 

  1. Then, return back to the starting position. 

If you’re at the gym and not at home, you can use a bench or box behind you to support your foot as well. 

You can also elevate this stretch by twisting your torso to either side. 


Psoas Massage

Remember how to tell if you have a tight psoas? 

Most people feel psoas pain NOT when they sit down but actually when they stand up after sitting for too long. 

Most of the time, psoas pain is originally caused by a high-impact event–like lifting something too heavy or an athletic injury. 

Oddly enough–even though your psoas is a hip flexor muscle–you’ll most likely feel it in your lower back. It can feel like a stabbing pain in the lower back. The upper thighs might also feel some of the brunt of this pain. 

So, what’s the first step if you suspect you have psoas pain? 

Psoas massage

The psoas is a difficult muscle to reach because it’s such a deep muscle. But thankfully–there is a massage device out there designed to specifically target your psoas. 

Introducing the QL Claw–an at-home massage device that we created to specifically target all 5 muscles responsible for lower back pain…including the psoas

QL Claw: psoas massage


To hit your psoas muscle, first, you'll need to find your psoas: 

Place your thumbs on your belly button and then stretch your pinkies down to your hip bones. The line from pinky to thumb covers where your psoas can be found. 

Next, you can use the QL Claw to massage your psoas. 

Lie down on your stomach, placing the trigger point of The Claw right on your waistline to hit the psoas. 

For more instructions on how to use the QL Claw for a psoas massage, check out the video below: 

Psoas release and psoas massage

“Psoas Release” 

Check out more about the QL Claw massage device HERE

More Psoas Resources

Not to brag, but we specialize in all things psoas: massaging, stretching, and exercising. For more resources on psoas health, check out the resources below: 

Psoas Articles

“Psoas Stretch: 6 Psoas Stretches That'll Shut Down Your Back Pain” 

“How to Stretch Psoas While Sleeping” 

“What Does Psoas Release Feel Like? Physical & Emotional Relief” 

Psoas Videos

“The Key To Low Back Pain Is Often Releasing The Psoas Muscle” 

“Psoas Release Using the QL Claw Device | Psoas Massage for Low Back Pain Relief”


“What Does Psoas Release Feel Like? (part 1)”

“What Does Psoas Release Feel Like? (Part 2)”


Psoas Muscle Exercises FAQs


How do I strengthen the psoas muscle?

To strengthen the psoas muscle, many exercises are effective, especially ones where you lift your leg out in front of you–as you can see from several of the psoas muscle exercises in this article. 



What is the fastest way to release the psoas?

The fastest way to release the psoas is by using the QL Claw. This is an at-home massage device specifically designed to provide therapeutic massage for your psoas right from your home. 



What are the symptoms of a weak psoas muscle?

If your psoas muscle is weak, you have a higher chance of the muscle becoming short and tight, which would cause lower back pain as well as pain in your upper thighs. 



Where do you massage the psoas muscle?

To massage your psoas muscle, place your thumbs on your belly button and then stretch your pinkies down to your hip bones. The line from pinky to thumb covers where your psoas can be found. This is where you’ll need to massage. 



What is the best sleeping position for psoas syndrome?

The best sleeping position for your psoas is knee to chest and fetal position. For more info about how to sleep in a good position for your psoas, check out this article: 

“How to Stretch Psoas While Sleeping”

What aggravates the psoas muscle?

The psoas is typically aggravated by a high-stress/high-impact event on the body, which then shows up after you’ve been sitting for a long time. 



[1] Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.



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