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Psoas Muscle Pain | Anatomy, Symptoms, & Relief

Psoas is a large hip flexor muscle on the front of the body that can cause a ton of low back pain when tight. Psoas muscle pain is extremely debilitating and can hinder a physically healthy lifestyle. Read on to determine what the Psoas is, if yours is tight, and how to relieve any Psoas muscle pain.

Psoas Muscle Pain Anatomy

Psoas Muscle Anatomy: 

The Psoas muscle is a very powerful hip flexor that connects from the lumbar vertebrae to the top of the femur. Psoas runs right through the guts and helps attach the lower body to the upper body. Psoas muscle pain can have a plethora of symptoms in addition to low back pain, and can diminish one's quality of life.

Psoas is part of the Iliopsoas complex, which consists of the Psoas and Iliacus muscles. Both muscles are often referred to together because the have nearly identical function, and they also tend to get tight and cause pain together as a unit [1].

Psoas Muscle Pain Anatomy

Psoas Muscle

Psoas Muscle Function:

The Psoas muscle, like other hip flexors, functions in bringing the knee forward and closer to the chest. Any activity that brings one or both knees closer to the chest will engage the Psoas muscle(s), and potentially worsen Psoas muscle pain [1]. Movements such as marching, kicking, and doing sit-ups will activate and require use of the Psoas muscle.

Psoas Muscle Pain Symptoms

The Common Psoas Muscle Pain:

Psoas muscle pain will typically manifest as stabbing, chronic-feeling low back pain [1]. Psoas muscle pain is typically brought on by a physically straining event involving the Psoas, but is worsened and prolonged by sitting in chairs [2]. Sitting in chairs (especially while slouching) is horrible for Psoas muscle pain because it shortens the muscle and increases its tension. Standing up after sitting for hours will likely trigger Psoas muscle pain.

Psoas Muscle Pain Patterns:

Psoas can refer pain both to the low back and upper thigh areas, as indicated in bright red below. The patterns below show pain referred by a single Psoas muscle. However, both Psoas muscles tend to be tight together and refer pain to both sides, so each side of the body can feel pain with the bright red pattern.

Psoas Muscle Pain Chart

Psoas Muscle Pain Chart [1]

Additional Psoas Muscle Pain Symptoms:

Psoas muscle pain can be worsened in the areas above while doing the following:

  • Standing up after sitting for a long period of time [1]
  • Slouching while sitting for long periods of time

Other Psoas muscle pain symptoms can include:

  • Pain while doing sit-ups [2]
  • Comfort while lying on the side in the fetal position [1]
  • Stiffness in the hips and groin [2]

Psoas Muscle Pain Relief

Psoas Deep Tissue Release:

The first step to relieving Psoas muscle pain is effective deep tissue massage. Successful deep tissue release will break up any knots, tightness, and trigger points that are contributing to the Psoas muscle pain. This will relieve the constant tension brought on by an angry, painful Psoas muscle and provide quick relief upon successful release.

Psoas Muscle Pain Release Tool:

The Psoas muscle is difficult to access. A professional can massage it with the hands, or you can invest in a tool designed for Psoas release. For Psoas and other back-pain-inducing-muscle release, QL Claw is the best. QL Claw was designed to release the 5 muscles that contribute to the majority of back pain when tight, and Psoas is high on that list. There are tools out there designed to hit a few of the 5 muscles, but none can hit all 5 with the effect of QL Claw. Learn more at the link below!


Psoas Muscle Pain Release
Psoas Release Using QL Claw

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

[2] Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.

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