Psoas Muscle: Definition and What it is
Medically and clinically reviewed by Jonathan Lee, MD and Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Psoas Muscle Definition and Meaning
The psoas muscle is a hip flexor muscle that connects to either side of your spine and runs all the way down the side of your pelvis to your thigh bone (femur). The psoas provides a muscular connection between your upper and lower body, which helps maintain an upright posture. Any type of leg-lifting motion that brings the knee to the chest — whether it’s walking upstairs, kicking, or running — uses the psoas muscle.
Psoas Muscle Stretches
When we spend prolonged periods of time seated at work or at home, our psoas muscles are placed into a shortened position, which can cause stiffness. This is why psoas muscle stretches are important. It’s a good idea to stretch out the psoas muscle regularly, especially before and after exercise. Psoas stretches can include: hip flexor stretch, bridges, and straight leg raises.
Common Psoas Muscle Injuries
Psoas muscles can naturally tighten up when we spend time in one position. When we sit or stand in one position, blood flow to our muscles can decrease and cause them to feel stiff and achy. Over time, that tightness and achiness can lead to other problems, such as low back pain. Tight psoas muscles can pull the pelvis forward, putting tension on the low back. Tight hip flexor muscles can increase pressure on the hip joint, which may make arthritis symptoms worse. Tight psoas muscles can also cause pelvic and hip pain, as well as changes in posture.
Psoas Muscles: A Hinge Health Perspective
Your psoas muscles are integral to nearly all types of movement, and they can usually handle a lot of stress and strain. Occasionally, though, they can tighten up. The good news: Psoas muscles are strong and resilient, and there's a lot you can do to help them recover and avoid further pain.
If you’re reluctant to move because you think you’ll cause more damage or injury to your psoas muscles, know this: Movement is often the fastest way to healing. As our Hinge Health care team says, movement is medicine. Movement, while at times painful, helps rehab the psoas muscles by increasing blood flow, and gradually improving the muscle’s strength and flexibility.
How Physical Therapy Can Help With Psoas Muscle Injuries
Physical therapy can help in addressing psoas muscle tightness and related issues. A physical therapist (PT) may recommend various techniques to stretch and strengthen the psoas muscle, which can help alleviate pain and restore function.
You can see a physical therapist in person or use a program like Hinge Health to access a PT via telehealth/video visit.
How Hinge Health Can Help You
If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.
The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.
Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition.
Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.
This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.
Siccardi, M. A., Tariq, M. A., & Valle, C. August 8, 2023. Anatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb: Psoas Major. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535418/
Lee, B., Lee, S. E., Kim, Y. H., Park, J. H., Lee, K. H., Kang, E., Kim, S., Lee, N., & Oh, D. (2021). Severe Atrophy of the Ipsilateral Psoas Muscle Associated with Hip Osteoarthritis and Spinal Stenosis-A Case Report. Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania), 57(1), 73. doi:10.3390/medicina57010073