Skip to content

Psoas Muscle Pain - What It Feels Like and How To Fix It

Psoas is a large hip flexor muscle on the front of the body that can cause a ton of lower back pain and severely hinder your lifestyle.

Here we cover what Psoas muscle pain is, how to know if it causes pain, and most importantly how to relieve it.

Psoas Muscle Pain Relief
A *Potential* Psoas Muscle Pain Sufferer


Psoas Muscle Pain Anatomy


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

Psoas Muscle Pain Anatomy

Psoas Muscle


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

What It Feels Like:

Psoas muscle pain typically feels like a stabbing, chronic lower back pain [1]. This pain usually stems from a high-impact, physically straining event, but is worsened and prolonged by sitting in chairs [2].

Sitting in chairs (especially while slouching) can worsen Psoas muscle pain because it shortens the muscle and increases its tension. In addition, standing up after sitting for hours forces our shortened-sitting-Psoas to lengthen and therefore pull on the lower back. If you have a hard time standing up after sitting, Psoas muscle pain/tension may be a contributing factor.

Pain Patterns:

Psoas can refer pain to the lower back and upper thigh areas, as indicated in bright red below. The image below shows 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 Trigger Point Chart [1]

Additional Psoas Pain Symptoms:

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

  • Standing up after sitting [1]
  • Slouching while sitting, particularly while sitting leaned back on a couch

Other Psoas muscle pain symptoms can include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Upper thigh pain
  • Difficulty and discomfort pushing the hips forward
  • 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

We solve Psoas muscle pain with 3 steps - 1) Massage/release, 2) Stretch, and 3) Glute activation.

1. Psoas Release:

The first step to relieving Psoas muscle pain is releasing the trigger points, knots, stiffness, tension, etc. (you get the point) with deep tissue massage. Successful deep tissue release will break up any knots, tightness, and trigger points that contribute 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 Release Tool:

The Psoas muscle is deep and difficult to access. A professional can massage it with their hands, or you can invest in a tool designed for Psoas release. For releasing Psoas and other back-pain-inducing muscles, we recommend QL Claw. QL Claw was designed to release the 5 main muscles that contribute to lower back pain when tight, and Psoas is high on that list. There are tools 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

Additional Psoas Muscle Pain Relief

2. Psoas Stretch

This so is important we wrote a full separate guide on how to Psoas Stretch.

Psoas release via deep tissue massage can resolve the majority of your muscle pain, but stretching is a great way to take it to the next level and solidify lasting relief. Stretching the Psoas can be difficult - especially if you are dealing with angry lower back muscle spasms - but it is well worth the extra length and pressure relief it can bring.

Fight through the mobility sweats, you got this! Here are a few great Psoas stretches for muscle pain relief:

  • Spiderman Stretch
  • Upward Dog Yoga Pose
  • ATG Split Squat

3. Glute Activation For Psoas Relief

This final step is about reactivating the glutes, therefore deactivating the Psoas.

The glute muscles and the hip flexors (including Psoas) are antagonistic muscles - just like the bicep and tricep. When you activate one side of an antagonist muscle pair, the other relaxes and turns off. To picture this easily with the bicep/tricep analogy, fully contract/flex your tricep and feel your bicep - it is lengthened and at rest. We can accomplish this same feat on the glutes and Psoas muscle pain by activating the glute muscles through a few simple exercises:



Psoas Muscle Pain Relief Exercises:

In sequence - 1) Massage/release, 2) stretch, and 3) glute activation.

Psoas Muscle Pain Symptoms

The chief symptom is stabbing, chronic lower back pain - often triggered by standing up after sitting for a long time.

Upper thigh pain, hip stiffness, and discomfort pushing the hips forward are also signs of Psoas pain. *See above for more*

Psoas Muscle Pain Relief

Start with deep tissue massage applied by a Psoas release tool (like QL Claw) or the hands of a professional physical or massage therapist. After the muscle tissue is broken up, proceed to stretch the Psoas and activate the glutes.

Psoas Muscle Pain Location

*See chart above* Psoas pain can be felt along the lower back and upper thigh.

What Causes Psoas Muscle Pain?

In most cases, a high-impact event involving the Psoas like sprinting, jumping, or carrying something heavy triggers Psoas tension and pain. Once present, this pain is often made worse by sitting.


Thanks for reading "Psoas Muscle Pain". Leave a comment or read one of the following next to own your lower back pain for good!


Psoas Release Tool

Hip Pain After Running

What Does Psoas Release Feel Like?



[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.

Leave a comment

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive emails every few days with back pain relief tips, testimonials, and resources