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Psoas Trigger Points - Anatomy, Pain Pattern, Finding Relief



Trigger Points: 

Psoas Muscle & Trigger Points

Psoas Muscle


Psoas Trigger Points Introduction

The Psoas is undoubtedly one of the most common back pain-inducing muscles. If you are familiar with back pain, you likely already know your way around the Psoas and if not - you need to learn. Your lower back will thank you.

Psoas trigger points are very common in modern culture. A few thousand years ago humans decided to go to war with the Psoas muscle by inventing chairs... and the Psoas is winning the battle. Sitting is a hip-flexed position, so the nature of sitting in a chair automatically encourages Psoas trigger points and tightness. Psoas tightness is very common in desk job workers and students. Click these links for video tutorials on how to stretch the Psoas and massage the Psoas for low back pain relief.

How To Release Psoas Trigger Point

Psoas Trigger Point Pain In Action (Dramatized)


Psoas Trigger Points Anatomy & Function

As written by Travell and Simons: "The primary function of the psoas major muscle is flexion of the hip." [1] p. 1198. Psoas is the hip flexor muscle that connects the lumbar vertebrae to the femur. It functions in hip flexion (lifting the knee to the chest), and tends to tighten and develop trigger points from excess sitting. Psoas is used in swinging the leg forward during running, as well as any motion that brings the knee toward the chest - for example during sit-ups and hanging leg raises.

There is also evidence to suggest that the Psoas functions in spinal stability. "Yoshio et al found that the psoas major muscle acts primarily as a spinal stabilizer when the hip is flexed 0° to 45°." [1] p. 1200. There are conflicting views on this topic, but it is safe to assume a strong, flexible, trigger-point-free Psoas is ideal.

Psoas Trigger Points And Function

The Iliopsoas Muscles [1]. The Iliopsoas complex contains the Psoas Major, Psoas Minor, and Iliacus muscles.


Psoas Trigger Point Pain Pattern

"It’s a mistake to assume the problem is at the place that hurts." [2] p. 36. Trigger points can refer pain to other parts of the body, and Psoas trigger points are no exception. As stated by Clair and Amber Davies, it is a mistake to assume the problem is where your pain is [2].

Psoas Trigger Points Referred Pain Patterns

Psoas Referred Pain Patterns [1]. The bright red regions are where pain is physically felt from Psoas trigger points.

As shown in the image above, Psoas trigger points can cause pain in the lower back region, as well as the front of the upper thigh. "Pain referred from TrPs (Trigger Points) in the iliopsoas muscles forms a distinctive vertical pattern ipsilaterally along the lumbar spine" [1] p. 1201. This quote is descriptive of the referred pain pattern in the left-most image, which is the broad lumbar spine pain that many patients describe.

Travell & Simons also mention that difficulty standing after sitting for a long time is a telltale sign of Psoas trigger points [1]. When a patient extends the spine to stand upright and feels pain, Psoas trigger points are likely at fault. Imagine an old uncle letting out an "Ope... AHHH" when gingerly standing up straight for the first time in 3 hours - that guy could benefit from a Psoas massage.

Psoas Trigger Points

Psoas Trigger Point General Feeling


How To Release Psoas Trigger Points

The best way to release Psoas trigger points is by laying on your Psoas release tool, breathing deeply, and tilting back and forth with light motion.

A great Psoas release tool for releasing Psoas trigger points is the QL Claw device. QL Claw was designed to massage all 5 muscles that contribute to low back pain, including the back-wrenching Psoas.

Resource: What Does Psoas Release Feel Like?

Psoas Trigger Point Release Using the QL Claw Device

Psoas Trigger Point Release Using the QL Claw

Take the next steps to eliminate Psoas trigger points for good with our Psoas release tutorial, and check out QL Claw for some therapeutic trigger point massage right at home!


Psoas Release Tutorial

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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