Skip to content

Iliacus Release Techniques

Release the Iliacus with the tutorial below, and scroll down further to Iliacus Pain Symptoms to determine if Iliacus is causing you pain.

Iliacus, like Psoas, is a hip flexor on the front of the body that can cause a great deal of lower back pain [1]. This tutorial uses the Iliacus release tool QL Claw to break up tension and trigger points in the Iliacus muscle.


Iliacus Release Placement:

Iliacus Release Tool Placement


Iliacus Release Video Walkthrough:


Target: Iliacus Muscle

Check out anatomical considerations here (the same info is below): The Iliacus Muscle


Iliacus Release Written Tutorial:

Iliacus Release Tool

Iliacus Release Tool QL Claw

Placement: Using your fingers, locate the large, bony hip bone protrusion on the front of your body. Feel for the muscle 1-2 inches inside the hip bone, and 0-2 inches above the waistline. When you locate the Iliacus, it will feel good to massage. The trigger portion should dig into muscle in this area - not bone.

Motion: Tilt the entire torso back and forth into the trigger to work the Iliacus. This muscle may be very tender and tight at first. It may take a minute or two to feel the Iliacus release, just keep the body physiology relaxed and focus on feeling for tender spots in the muscle (not bone). Iliacus release will be worth the short wait.

Iliacus Muscle Release Tool

Additional Iliacus Release Pressure 1: Engage the glute and lock out the leg (straighten the knee) on the side that is being massaged. This will trigger additional Iliacus release with antagonistic effects - turning on the glute will force the antagonist Iliacus muscle to release.

Additional Iliacus Release Pressure 2: "The Windshield Wiper" Bend the knee on the trigger-side leg so that the knee is at a 90-degree angle, and the foot is in the air. While maintaining the 90-degree knee angle, move the foot back and forth like a windshield wiper.

Iliacus Release 2 Using QL Claw

Additional Iliacus Release Pressure 3: "The Stinger" From the Windshield Wiper, engage the trigger-side glute to lift the leg off the ground. If Iliacus has not released yet, it will here.

Iliacus Release 3 Using QL Claw

Iliacus Pain Symptoms

Iliacus Anatomy & Function: 

Iliacus is a hip flexor muscle that activates when lifting the knee to the chest. Iliacus connects from the top of the hip to the top of the femur. Iliacus and Psoas are often referred to together as the Iliopsoas complex because they function and tighten as a unit.

Due to its nature as a hip flexor, Iliacus can shorten from sitting for long periods of time. People who have desk jobs tend to have very tight and trigger point-ridden Iliacus (and Psoas) muscles. 

Iliacus Release Tool

Iliacus Muscle

Iliacus Pain Pattern & Symptoms:

The classic pain that manifests from Iliacus tightness is low back pain. Iliacus and Psoas trigger points and tightness refer pain to the low back and upper thigh in a gnarly pattern, as seen in bright red below [1]. The image is shown with one-side Iliopsoas tightness, but both sides are generally tight and cause pain together.

Iliacus Release Pain Chart

Iliacus Referred Pain Chart [1] 


Iliacus Release Muscle Pain

Iliacus muscle pain can be extremely painful and limiting. In my opinion, Iliacus-induced pain, especially lower back pain, is incredibly common in today's age. The human body was not built to sit in a chair for 8, 10, 14 hours a day, and our muscles definitely weren't built to withstand it. Sitting in chairs wreaks havoc on the Iliacus muscle through shortening and developing extreme tightness in the front of the body. 

The image above illustrates the pain pattern caused by trigger points and tightness in the Iliacus muscle, as depicted by Travell & Simons [1]. The bright red areas display where pain from Iliacus tightness is likely to occur - in the upper thigh and lower back. If you feel a similar pain pattern, Iliacus release should undoubtedly be on your list of rehab activities.


Iliacus Release:

Scroll up to see how the Iliacus release tool QL Claw can help with low back pain relief!



Check out our tutorials for releasing other low back pain-inducing muscles below!




[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.

Subscribe to our newsletter

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