Why Your Psoas Muscle Is The Most Vital Muscle in Your Body

18 Vital Facts About Your Psoas Muscle Group

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

The psoas muscle (pronounced SO-as) may be the most important muscle in your body. Without this essential muscle group you wouldn’t even be able to get out of the bed in the morning!

In fact, whether you run, bike, dance, practice yoga, or just hang out on your couch, your psoas muscles are involved. That’s because your psoas muscles are the primary connectors between your torso and your legs.  They affect your posture and help to stabilize your spine.

The psoas muscles are made of both slow and fast twitching muscles. Because they are major flexors, weak psoas muscles can cause many of the surrounding muscles to compensate and become overused. That is why a tight or overstretched psoas muscle could be the cause of many or your aches and pains, including low back and pelvic pain.

The types of movement which can strain your psoas muscles include standing and twisting from your waist without moving your feet (think old fashioned calisthenics), or any movement that causes your leg to externally rotate while extended, such as Ballet-style leg lifts (or battement), and even doing too many sit ups (your psoas muscles complete the last half of a sit up).

But, since many experts don’t understand the complexity of the psoas muscles, it’s not uncommon for people to be given the wrong diagnoses and treatments for their psoas-related pain.

My What Muscle? What You Need to Know About your Psoas

Structurally, your psoas muscles are the deepest muscles in your core.  They attach from your 12th thoracic vertebrae to your 5 lumbar vertebrae, through your pelvis and then finally attach to your femurs. In fact, they are the only muscles that connect your spine to your legs.


Your psoas muscles allow you to bend your hips and legs towards your chest, for example when you are going up stairs.  They also help to move your leg forward when you walk or run.

Your psoas muscles are the muscles that flex your trunk forward when bend over to pick up something from the floor. They also stabilize your trunk and spine during movement and sitting.

The psoas muscles support your internal organs and work like hydraulic pumps allowing blood and lymph to be pushed in and out of your cells.


Your psoas muscles are vital not only to your structural well-being, but also to your psychological well-being because of their connection to your breath.

Here’s why: There are two tendons for the diaphragm (called the crura) that extend down and connect to the spine alongside where the psoas muscles attach. One of the ligaments (the medial arcuate) wraps around the top of each psoas. Also, the diaphragm and the psoas muscles are connected through fascia that also connects the other hip muscles.

These connections between the psoas muscle and the diaphragm literally connect your ability to walk and breathe, and also how you respond to fear and excitement. That’s because, when you are startled or under stress, your psoas contracts.

In other words, your psoas has a direct influence on your fight or flight response!

During prolonged periods of stress, your psoas is constantly contracted.  The same contraction occurs when you:

  • sit for long periods of time
  • engage in excessive running or walking
  • sleep in the fetal position
  • do a lot of sit-ups

All of these activities compress the front of your hip and shorten your psoas muscle. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should automatically stretch your psoas if you have pain in the front of your hip joint.

In fact, depending on your situation, stretching your psoas may actually do more harm than good! The key is to know whether your psoas is short and tight and thus in need of stretching, or if it’s weak and overstretched and in need of strengthening. 

7 Ways to Tell if You Have a Psoas Muscle Imbalance

When you have a tight (or short) psoas muscle, you may experience pain in your lower back or in your hips, especially when lifting your legs. This is caused by the muscle compressing the discs in the lumbar region of your back.

Stretching your muscles and releasing the tension on the psoas is the best way to prevent this from happening. It takes time and daily attention to keep your psoas muscles relaxed, stretched, and strong.  

And, while most people with psoas issues have tight psoas muscles, there are some people whose psoas muscles can be overstretched.  In this case, if you stretch your psoas and it is already overstretched, you will cause more problems. 

Your body will tell you what your psoas ultimately needs.  Here are 7 ways to tell if you have a psoas muscle imbalance:

  1. Leg length discrepancy. A tight psoas muscle can cause your pelvis to rotate forward.  This in turn can cause an an internal rotation of your leg on the affected side. The opposite leg will rotate externally in an effort to counter-balance.

    This will make the affected leg longer so that every time you take a step, it drives your leg up into your hip socket.  This can lead to functional leg length discrepancy.

  2. Knee and low back pain. If you experience knee or low back pain with no apparent cause, it may be coming from your psoas muscles. When your femur is in essence locked into your hip socket due to a tight psoas muscle, rotation in the joint can’t occur.  This can cause your knee and low back to torque.
  3. Postural problems. When your psoas is too short or tight, it can pull your pelvis into an anterior tilt, compressing the spine and pulling your back into hyperlordosis or “duck butt.”If your psoas is overstretched or weak, it can flatten the natural curve of your lumbar spine creating a “flat butt.” This misalignment is characterized by tight hamstrings pulling down on the sitting bones, which causes the sacrum to lose its natural curve and results in a flattened lumbar spine. This can lead to low-back injury, especially at the intervertebral discs.  You may also feel pain at the front of your hip. Finally, it is possible for your psoas muscles to be both tight and overstretched. In this case, your pelvis is pulled forward in front of your center of gravity, causing your back to curve (swayback) and your head to poke forward.
  4. Difficulty moving your bowels. A tight psoas muscle can contribute to or even cause constipation. A large network of lumbar nerves and blood vessels passes through and around the psoas muscles. Tightness in the psoas muscles can impede blood flow and nerve impulses to the pelvic organs and legs.

    In addition, when the psoas is tight your torso shortens decreasing the space for your internal organs. This affects food absorption and elimination.  As such it can contribute to constipation, as well as sexual dysfunction.

  5. Menstrual Cramps. An imbalance in your psoas muscles can be partially responsible for menstrual cramps as it puts added pressure in your reproductive organs.
  6. Chest breathing. A tight psoas muscle can create a thrusting forward of the ribcage.  This causes shallow, chest breathing, which limits the amount of oxygen taken in and encourages over usage of your neck muscles.
  7. Feeling exhausted. Your psoas muscles create a muscular shelf that your kidneys and adrenals rest on. As you breathe properly your diaphragm moves and your psoas muscles gently massage these organs, stimulating blood circulation. But, when the psoas muscles become imbalanced, so do your kidneys and adrenal glands, causing physical and emotional exhaustion.

    In fact, according to Liz Koch, author of The Psoas Book, “The psoas is so intimately involved in such basic physical and emotional reactions, that a chronically tightened psoas continually signals your body that you’re in danger, eventually exhausting the adrenal glands and depleting the immune system.”


9 Tips for Keeping Your Psoas Muscles Happy and Healthy

Exercise, sitting in your favorite chair, wearing shoes, and even unhealed physical and emotional injuries can cause imbalance in your psoas muscles. Getting things back in balance will give you a greater range of motion and relief from pain.  Plus, you feel more grounded and relaxed!

Here are some tips for getting things back in balance:

  1. Avoid sitting for extended periods. If you must sit for work or other reasons, sit with good posture and be sure your hips are level or slightly higher than your knees. Avoid bucket seats and chairs without support for your low back. Try to get up and move around every hour.
  2. Add support to your car seat. Use a rolled up towel underneath your sit bones and/ or behind your lumbar spine to keep the psoas and hip sockets released. If you are traveling long distances, stop every 3 hours to stretch and walk around for 10 minutes.
  3. Lay off extreme exercise routines. I don’t mean completely or forever.  But, if you are a power walker, distance runner or sprinter, or even if you do a lot of sit-ups, you may want to alternate your workouts.
  4. Try Resistance Flexibility exercises. Resistance Flexibility exercises can do wonders for your fascia.

    To strengthen your psoas, lay on your back with your hips abutting the wall next to a door frame.  Raise one leg straight so that it is against the wall. (Your other leg will extend through the door way.) Bend your extended leg and using your hands to slow down the movement and create resistance, bring your bent knee toward your chest. 

    Do this while also pressing your raised leg into the wall. Then reverse the motion of your bent leg. As you straighten it, continue to create resistance using your hands to push your leg out as your leg resists.

    Learn more about Resistance Flexibility & Strength Training developed by Bob Cooley at www.bendablebody.com.

  5. Get a professional massage. Getting a massage from a seasoned practitioner can help relieve a tight psoas muscle. Understand that this work is not the most comfortable, but can be of great benefit. In fact, getting myofascial release on a regular basis helps to keep your psoas, and all of your muscles, fluid. Assisted stretching (as with a Resistance Flexibility trainer) and yoga are also excellent ways to restore balance to your psoas.
  6. Take constructive rest. The Constructive Rest Position (CRP) can relieve low back, pelvic and hip tension while it allows your entire body to come into neutral. Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor hip-width apart and parallel to each other.

    Place your heels a comfortable distance from your buttocks – or about 16 inches away. Do not push your low back into the floor or tuck your pelvis. Rest your arms over your belly. Let gravity do the work. Doing this for 10 to 20 minutes every day will release tension in your psoas muscles and help to reestablish the neuro-biological rhythms that calm and refresh.

  7. Pay attention to your pelvis! The length of the psoas determines whether or not your pelvis is free to move.

    To tell whether your psoas muscles are tight or overstretched, stand sideways by a mirror (or even better, have a friend take a photo of you from the side). Note the position of your pelvis. If you were to draw a line along your pelvis from back to front, that line should be pretty straight.

    If the line tilts downward, your pelvis is anteriorly rotated or moving toward the front of your body. This means that your psoas muscles may be short and tight. If the line runs upward, your pelvis is posteriorly tilted toward the back of your body. This means that your psoas muscles may be overstretched and weak.

  8. Release stress and past traumas. We store stress in our bodies. Tension in the hips is common and it’s usually not just caused by lifestyle, age and physical events, such as injuries or accidents, but also due to mental stress and unhealed traumas.

    Releasing stress daily can help keep your psoas healthy. Take a leisurely walk. Soak in a bath with Epson salts. Acknowledge your emotions, express and release them. Divine Love is a great way to heal from past traumas. Finally, get out and do something pleasurable every day!

  9. Read The Psoas Book. If you want to learn more about your psoas muscles, read The Psoas Book by Liz Koch. Koch believes that our fast paced modern lifestyle — including car seats, constrictive clothing, shoes that throw our posture out of alignment, and more — chronically triggers the psoas as it “literally embodies our deepest urge for survival, and more profoundly, our elemental desire to flourish.” You can also visit her website, www.coreawareness.com.


Last Updated: May 3, 2016

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


Add comment
  1. Tina
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you for the interesting information. I had heard of the psoas muscle in yoga but had no idea of its true importance. I was told by a chiropractor that that my hip was twisted causing one leg longer than the other, now I realize it is probably from my psoas muscle. This really affirms the importance of continuing my yoga practice.

  2. Rufonious
    4 weeks ago

    Developed a twisted pelvis so my chiropractor told me. Showed me some exercises to do which help but still get pain on and off. My knees crack as does my spine and neck and get a tingling feeling down my right leg. That is also the side where pain occurs in the hip area. I tend to lean to one side when walking and have stiffness and jolting pain. Suppose at the age of 63 I haven’t done too badly, though I miss gardening and going for long walks like I used to.

  3. Stacy
    1 month ago

    I have been having pain in the sides of my buttocks when sleeping mostly. I switch back and forth on side. And every now and then just aches. Is this tight psoas? It is very painful wakes me from sleep.
    Thank you

  4. Kay
    2 months ago

    I have had a contracted Psoas for years ….thought to be from an emergency appendectomy ….I have had PT and daily constructive rest ( and CT scan) but never got past the point of stress in that area….I am now 65 and still have a unbalanced hip area curve …..Any method to help this would be welcomed…..Thank you

  5. Heather Sylvester
    4 months ago

    Hi there
    Interesting article and I will investigate further. I have osteoarthritis and have had a hip replacement at the age of 50. I have been told that the psoas muscle on the new hip side is damaged. Possibly the nerve was damaged during op and so muscle doesn’t get blood supply. I am unable to lift that leg (turned out) at all when lying on the floor. I have to lift/drag it to get in bed and especially the car. Lifting it from standing to put socks on is just a put doable but painful. I have a constant dull aching in the hip area. I was told it will never improve..is this true? I’d do anything to improve my situation.

    1. Sharon Allen
      3 months ago

      hi. Heather.
      Sorry your having this problem. I have had hip replacment. Mri has shown atrophy if left psoas muscle. Have symptoms like you. pain and bending leg to dress etc.
      Also have muscle damage in thigh.
      waiting to see neuro surgeon on his advice.

  6. Penny Smart
    5 months ago

    This article was so enlightening. I was born with congenital hip and since my early 20’s (now 54), I’ve suffered with back pain, hip and pelvis pain as well as constipation. I’ve been hospitalized numerous times with pain so severe that at times I couldn’t walk. NO ONE ever explained this to me. After almost 2 months of extreme pain, I met a physical therapist who identified this as the issue and has been working on this muscle for 6 weeks now. Since this has been a life long struggle for me, I am told it will take a lot of time and patience to help me get as close to ‘healed’ as I can ever be.

    Thank you so much for writing this article and helping us understand why our bodies do what they do.

  7. Yolanda
    6 months ago

    My husband was experiencing pain in his left hip, across his lower abdomen and down the front of his leg. Also had low-grade fevers. MRI showed nothing but the CT scan found a large (large orange-size) abscess in side his muscles. They drained it and he immediately was pain free and could flex his left leg moving it up to his chest. The abscess had 3 bacteria in it and he has been on antibiotic infusion for the past week. He will do this daily for 3 or 4 more weeks. They removed the drain last Thursday. If I hadn’t insisted on soft-tissue tests, I’m not sure they would have found it. It can be life threatening if the abscess leaks into the body.

    1. Michael
      3 months ago

      I am wondering if what happened to your husband is happening to me right now. For me, when the pain is up (it changes during the day, seems worse at night) I often feel a bit nauseous and like I’d been punched near my left kidney in back. I’ve been getting random chills (not sure if it’s actually a full on fever) around the same time. It’s hard to sleep on my left side. I’ve wondered about the possibility of an abcess (I’ve had Lyme disease, would be considered ‘chronic’ at this point) but I’ve not had surgery in that area, no overt injuries that might have kicked it off, etc. I am curious about your husband’s experience and would appreciate hearing more, if you don’t mind. Thank you.

  8. Amit Maheshwari
    6 months ago

    This is something I was looking for since many years, but had no idea what I need to know.
    Really awesome and worthy article.

  9. Angie J
    7 months ago

    This is such a well written and very informative article. Thank you so much for sharing this. I have been suffering from chronic back pain and crippling SI joint dysfunction for 6 years now since the birth of my first child. I am 36 years old and feel like I am in my 80’s. Countless hours spent with massage therapy, chiropractor, naturopath physiotherapists, professional fitness trainer, Xrays and an MRI. This article gave me more answers and enlightened me more than all of those combined. Thank you so much. I really believe this is the missing piece of the puzzle I have been missing all this time.

  10. Elizabeth
    7 months ago

    Great info! I have suffered greatly for the last 25 years after a violent attack, with sever low back, pelvic and leg pain. Also have bowel issues of unknown cause over the last few years. All therapy caused more damage than helping. This is what I will be discussing with my Dr. and doing more research on! Again great article

  11. Thank you so much. Im a Psychiatric RN and deal with stress daily, plus the vicious assaults I have incurred over the past 20+ years and I finally am working towards a solution to my pain After years of juggling between many conventional therapies…this is very enlightening!
    Peter Austin RN

  12. Leslie
    8 months ago

    Hi my name is Leslie and I have been reading up A lot about the psoas muscle over the last year. I have been running marathons for the last 7 years and started to experience pain and fatigue in my right hip/leg. About 4 years ago, while also going through a terrible divorce. I started seeing a doctor who took xrays of my hips and legs which came back one leg was longer than the other and also my hips sway back. I started doing yoga and physical therapy and it helped a little but it never went away. I would try to run and within a mile or two I would have to stop and walk because i felt like I was dragging my leg and I was about to fall over. I backed off for a long time and cross trained more. After a year off I tried to run again and it was even worse. I have a massage therapist who says my psoas is super tight and it feels like a ball. She has tried to release it but we haven’t gotten it to really get better. I’ve gone to a chiropractor and he said my SI joint is out causing my pain, I’ve done cryotherapy foot zoning yoga acupuncture ozone injections in surrounding areas and I don’t know what else to do. I have gone from an advid runner to having a hard time on the elliptical. I’m physically and emotionally drained. I miss running. What else can I do? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Max
      7 months ago

      Hi Leslie
      Have you tried TRE – Trama Release Exercise?
      I’ve been trying to figure out for many many weeks why I have pain in what seems to be my left psoas. I tried TRE 3 days ago and I might be onto something..my pain is almost gone, the area feels different in a good way. I’ve heard that psoas takes on our emotions, feelings and stress and if you’ve had a terrible divorce, maybe you need to release what the psoas is storing…try it, its very safe..doesnt cost anything…try it, just shake away and see what happens…

      1. Nina
        5 months ago

        I too have been experiencing terrible groin/anterior hip pain, saw a chiropractor, accupunture etc . Have been trying all kinds of techniques on you tube for Psoas release, I tried the Trauma Release for Psoas and I agree, it did help, and the pain is still there but different. I will try it again today, but I am also experiencing great pain in my right buttocks when I stand up from sitting .

  13. Ken S
    8 months ago

    Hello, Congratulations on an completely fascinating, thorough and revealing article. I am a Therapist, “Bowen Therapy” and I have released the tension in many Psoas muscles. Your post explains the reason for the emotional release the clients also experience. Thanks again. One thing I would add is it is possible for one psoas to be more tight than the other. This causes a spinal twist and an ache in the opposing hip. Many therapists spend a lot of time releasing the painful spot but not the cause, which is the opposite psoas. The cause for such tightness is commonly, vacuuming (right or left handed only). , Golf right or left only and poor ergonomics at the computer i.e. working twisted while seated. Ken Melbourne Australia

  14. kelly morgan
    9 months ago

    Thank you – I love this article. I have quoted you and your website on my site as I think this information is invaluable. I am seeing a scary trend in gyms around the world of encouraging us to contract this muscle further through bad form! Thanks Kelly

  15. Sandy
    9 months ago

    Hi Dr. Northrup, In early January I had some back surgery on my L4, L5 disc replacement and fusion. I thought I would get better but I am having more issues then I started with. They did 2 surgery’s day 1 they went through my side to replace the disc and day 2 they went through my back to put in a post and screw to keep everything in place. I have had to have 4 MRI since then and lot of lab work because my continues problem. As my surgeon told me all my consistent pelvic pain and leg pain and legs wanting to go out, side and buttock pain is not consistent with problems after surgery. He suggested I should see a gynecologist. He showed me the MRI there was a large sac of fluid collecting around the replaced disc and it said there was inflammatory changes extending into and involving the left psoas muscle. The report also states Differential consideration include inflammatory changes due to recent surgery, and early infectious process.I was then told by surgeon that they say that to cover there butt and that is why they say this? But is is really post surgical swelling? I am wondering as I search for why I am still in pain and I have been sent to RA doc,infectious disease doc, and allergist and next I am going to a pain management doc in his practice, I am concerned about the side incision weather any nerves may have been damaged or if there was any damage to the psoas muscle? Because I am not getting any real answers I am not a doctor but I am trying to figure out what could have happened so it can be fixed. Tired of being in constant pain. Any thoughts? have you spoke with people with a similar problem after this type of surgery? I think this surgeon thinks I am crazy that I have continued pain.

  16. Lyn H.
    10 months ago

    I have groin/hip/low back pain. I have had the low back pain for years but now have groin area and hip pain with sciatic pain sometime down my thigh…alternating right and left. My question is, it feels like something in the groin area spasms or get “tight” if it is die to the papas muscle, wouldn’t you get pain on both sides or can it be one sided?

  17. Peggy Dalton
    10 months ago

    Dr. Northrop, oh my, oh my, your article answers so many “mysteries.” I have been unable to stand “up” as my left groin pain is so sharp it would drop me. I am unable to lift my leg to get into a vehicle. I am unable to get into bed because I cannot lift my legs.

    I have seen a score of doctors but they only want to do one thing – usually the fastest procedure with the most profit.

    1. Donna
      9 months ago

      I had the same thing for 3 months. Was told I needed hip & knee replacement. Through Gods grace I met a gal in Walmart with a brace on, we got to talking and she told me about Synergy Release technique. I went for a session and in one 3 hour period experienced more relief and got straightened out, than any doctor, who never touched. Just said I needed joint replacement and maybe I had lower spine issues. I had all that, but due to a very tight Psoas muscle. On my way to recovery now. The people who do this technique are few and far between but I would google it to see if anyone in your are does it. Otherwise some good exercises on U-tube, but I needed professional help. Chiropractors may be able to help. I just didn’t know what it was and doctors didn’t help me.

  18. Christopher Bunn
    11 months ago

    I have a spinal injury and was left with tone in my leg. After my last surgery I realized I have tone in my Psoas. My pelvis has tilted so my leg is about a half/ 3/4″ shorter now.
    I’m looking to get Botox injections

    1. Ye Ping Tsim
      10 months ago

      Try bowen technique- a good practitioner will help you with this in a couple of sessions.
      I’m based in Haywards Heath . Google Pingpingbowen bowen therapy. Or find one near you – go to Bowtech website .

  19. Anne Smith
    1 year ago

    I had a hip replacement 3 years ago and 6 months later went on a cruise. Unfortunately I climbed the stairs instead of using the lift and got bursitis. On returning home my doctor referred me to a physio. I had treatment for 3 months to no avail. Cortisone injections help but go not last. The orthopaedic surgeon requested a MRI and his opinion is that I need to have the psoas muscle severed. I am in a lot of pain, lower back and buttock. Problem getting into a car and out of a chair etc. Pain is worse in bed and don’t get very much sleep. Please can you give me some advice as I am reluctant to have the operation. Many thanks

    1. Shelly Buhr Reflexology
      12 months ago

      Try reflexology, as there is a reflex for the psoas muscle.

    2. M. Grizzle
      10 months ago

      Oh my God. It sounds like we have similar cases. I am likely having my psoas tendon released later this summer. Can you please reach out to me and let me know how you do, if you have the surgery? Here is my email Mary.stinnett@hotmail.com thanks and good luck to you!

      1. Flo
        7 months ago

        I would not sever the psoas, it’s the muscle that holds the top and bottom of your body together. I would search you tube for exercises and search out natural therapies.

    3. Dana
      4 months ago

      I’d never go for having a muscle severed! I’d suggest Visceral Manipulation, it is gentle and resolves adhesions in the organs. you can find a practitioner at this website, I’d recommend going with a PT, DO certified in this work due to the nature of your issue. http://www.barralinstitute.com

      Good Luck!

  20. Amanda
    1 year ago

    Can I ask, if this muscle is tight can it cause a feeling of shaking internally and weakness in that area?

  21. Nick DeNora
    1 year ago

    Dr. Northtrup,
    I injured my self 30 years ago doing situps on a roman chair with a weight on my chest, I am a man not a woman and saw this by chance. no one then or now knew what it was but I have had ab pain all that time, it ruined my life in ways. it feels like a tendon? But like you said if I get angry or stressed or jump rope it gets sore. Could it be I ripped the psoas? If so, what is the cure? I haven’t been able to do pushups for 30 years and my torso is very tight. It hurts a lot anytime I life heavy objects. I had many doctors check for hernia and found nothing.
    Please help if you know what it is?
    thanks, Nick

  22. Ed Houle
    1 year ago

    Is it a muscle or a group? You wrote “The psoas muscle (pronounced SO-as) may be the most important muscle in your body. Without this essential muscle group you wouldn’t even be able to get out of the bed in the morning.”

    Also, I am confused about the tendons or ligaments. You wrote “There are two tendons for the diaphragm (called the crura) that extend down and connect to the spine alongside where the psoas muscles attach. One of the ligaments (the medial arcuate) wraps around the top of each psoas.

  23. Kay Miller
    1 year ago

    I had an abscess in my psoas muscle about two years ago. It was the size of a golf ball and was mersa. I was hospitalized for a week and the abscess drained. Treated with antibiotics because of mersa for six weeks through a pick line. I was in a lot of pain, I could hardly stand straight for weeks. I still have times I hurt the same way and then it will go away. It hurts to walk,get up from chair and sit down. Could this have cause permanent damage to the psoas ?

  24. Phyllis Isenhart
    1 year ago

    In January 2016, I had a urethral re-implantation with a psoas hitch. The following morning, when I woke and stretched my leg, it felt like someone had rammed a red hot branding iron down the whole length of my leg. Ever sense, I have had numbness and pain down the inside of my left leg and back pain has continued to get worse. My orthopedic is now wanting to do an epidural nerve block. My knee constantly feels swollen or like it is filled with fluid. I am wondering if my problem is a result of something done during the surgery that may have damaged or pinched the femoral nerve and that is what is causing my problems. What are your thoughts.

  25. Great article Dr Northrop. I thought it was written by a chiropractor because of the detail to spinal and pelvic alignment (until I realized you were Christine, I love your books btw). Chiropractic care really benefits these issues as well as acupuncture and are a great adjuncts to your other recommendations.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Christiane
      1 year ago

      I am honored by this comment. And you are so right about chiropractic care when it’s done consciously!! Thank you. Christiane

  26. Beth
    1 year ago

    I am reading Aging Backwards by Miranda Esmonde-White and saw her exercise for stretching the PSOAS muscle. Because I have never heard of it, googled it and came upon your website. Love your shows on PBS. I have and have read Women’s Bodies – Womens’ Health. Love all the info here. I will try the things here before doing Miranda’s exercise. I have always had one leg longer than the other, a “duck” butt” and a forward jutting head. I thought the duck butt had to do with my particular body type (Dr. Elliot Avravanel (sp.?) and my head jutting forward was an Aries ascendant thing. Now I have some way of correcting them. Have recently gone no contact with my family due to CPTSD (sexual abuse, NPD father, BPD mother, family in denial) and my daughter and I are in therapy. I have been learning about food, eft and anything else that can help us get better to minimize or avoid taking drugs. Thanks so much for this info and all you do to get it out there. You are truly changing the culture by empowering women and making the knowledge your provide more acceptable.

    It’s interesting how women are outnumbering men at all educational levels and fields. But, then, men are more active animals. Education and healing should be more of what women do naturally.

    Can’t wait to explore all these different methods of healing mentioned here by your readers, too.

    Thanks again.

    1. Jenny
      9 months ago

      Have you come across TRE, work developed by David Berseli. It involves releasing trauma gently by trembling the psoas. Fascinating and very effective. Good luck.

      1. Max
        7 months ago

        Yes, I came across TRE 3 days ago. I’ve been trying to figure out why my lower left abdominal area is in constant pain and nobody can tell me.. I tried TRE on myself for the first time and its seems effective so far.. keeping my fingers crossed.
        For 2 years and 1 month (since it happened after a colonoscopy, I’ve seen many specialists, had blood work, Xrays, MRI’s, gastroenterologists twice, accupuncturist x3, a chiropractor, a DO, an herbalists, a pain dr + injection, spine dr, ..etc. Its very early to say on TRE but it looks promising…hoping its my way out…I think its my psoas but I cant find anyone confirm, all i can do is work on it diaphramic breathing. I rarely get relief. I will continue trying to “shaking whatever it is” “off”… Thanks Jenn, very surprised to see it mentioned. Thank You.

  27. Adam Centurione
    1 year ago

    Wow this article really made an impact. Ive practiced Ashtanga Yoga for four years. After the second year i practiced enough and progressed to a point in which i realized my psoas muscles in a way i never had before. it as at times (mostly on days in which i practiced later in the day) unbearable. I would run to my mat sometimes in order to work them, and stretch them. since then, this feeling has mostly subsided; since then? I have become more stable and balanced then ever. I have far more strength than i ever imagined; I can climb straight up a tall tree by gripping it like a bear and corkscrewing upwards! which is probably dangerous, but nevertheless. I have been interested in these muscles since then and this article is fantastic! the book sounds like a good read too!

  28. deborah krejci
    1 year ago

    This is wonderful. I love it all. Would you mind if I use this for my yoga teacher training?

  29. elaine ashton
    2 years ago

    It has taken me this long to get to reading this Psoas article. I absolutely KNEW I would benefit from what you had to say. I am joining the chorus in THANKING YOU for this information and will start putting it into use THIS DAY. As a Massage Therapist of 25 years — I obtain regular bodywork for myself — knowing how important it is for any body. But there is always something to learn and I’m eager to learn it. LOTS OF LOVE for all you do for women.

  30. I highly recommend The Alexander Technique to your readers. The psoas releases into its proper resting length when the body as a whole is in balance, including a lack of interference wth the body’s breathing coordination. There is a strong connection between the way we think about movement and the way we habitually execute movement. An Alexander teacher can guide our thinking and our movement into a totality of mind-body connection and coordination – our head in relation to our spine and the balance of our pelvis in relation to our legs. The psoas is a key player, but only if we understand our body’s total coordination. Individual attention to the psoas makes the most sense and is most effective when we access the breathing mechanism, can differentiate between the abdominal complex and the psoas complex and connect the role of the head/neck/spine relationship in movement to the function of the psoas and its role in postural support and free motion of the limbs. Thank you for the excellent article and the opportunity to hear and share responses from your readers.

  31. Bernice Jazwiecki
    2 years ago

    I was given internal pelvic radiation due to endometrial cancer. Also after a hysterectomy, I had external radiation. After all of these treatments (about a year later) I developed a pain just under my right buttock. I had a bone scan of which I was told showed something to be there, but it was not cancer. This pain has been with me since a year ago and my doctor says to have a pelvic CT scan done. I am skeptical because of all the radiation that I’ve been given. I do feel pain in my hip and knee, and if I sit for too very long the right buttock pain is there. Ibuprofen helps. However, I don’t want to live on Ibuprofen.
    Question: Could this pain also be from my psoas muscle? Your article about this muscle caught my interest.
    I would like your answer as to the fact that this may be a bone spur caused by radiation…is this a possibility?
    And if so, what kind of treatment is done for it.
    If you would like more info about me….please ask.
    Thank You so much.

    1. Suzanne
      12 months ago

      Hi, I had a similar pain for some months. I finally was led to get massage therapy for the periformis muscle which was tight unbeknownst to me as I do stretching, yoga and Pilates. I had immediate relief even though I had had the pain for many months. The periformis is directly over a bundle of nerves and can cause irritation to the nerve bundle if tight and cause pain.

  32. Retha van der Walt
    2 years ago

    Thank you! Now I know why I have a excessive sway back and a head that tilted forward. I love learning more on how my body function and take steps on improving it.

  33. Debbie
    2 years ago

    Excellent excellent article. I have exercised my whole life & im in very good physical condition, but have had difficulty in these areas of my body forever. I’m still plagued with limited flexibility in these areas at age 62 Thank you so much for this extensive information on this muscle group. I Will surely buy the book & begin working on a different solution to my problem. Your the bomb! Thank you! Thank you! And…have wanted to take tango lessons for years. I may try that as well.

  34. Janet Elise Johnson
    2 years ago

    So glad to see this! Learning to realign my psoas has been my project for the last decade, the key to creating less pain in my pelvis and head as well as sleeping better. The most practical insight I have found is from https://corewalking.com/. I have worked with Jonathan FitzGordon personally and can recommend his materials.

  35. Evon
    2 years ago

    As a a massage therapist professional I truly appreciate the sharing of this information. I work with people quite often that have problems with their psoas and this is will be a wonderful and easy thing to refer them to. Some learn by hearing others by seeing or reading, and it gives them the chance to empower themselves with knowledge and skills for self care!

  36. Carmen Funcia
    2 years ago

    Dear Dr. Christiane Northrup:

    I am amazed of your generosity giving us information of which “nobody talks.”

    I read you with much interest and thankfulness.

  37. Cindi
    2 years ago

    This is amazing information, thank you!!! I fell a few summers ago, landing hard on my knees (then sliding to a most graceful face-plant!). The summer following, I started having difficulty straightening up after planting in the garden. Then the front hip pain came and such difficulty doing yoga I gave up. Most disturbing was that I noticed my butt seemed to be sticking out. Ha! “Duck butt”, as you put it, is the perfect description. Even my knees seem to have turned inward. Complete posture change! I have been in extreme pain just moving in general, exhausted and horribly frustrated that I went from a very youthful 63 year old to an ancient bent over old lady in barely a year. Can’t quit my job (longggg hours of sitting), but now you have given me hope AND a plan for relief. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have been my greatest discovery since your very first book was released!

  38. Coleen L
    2 years ago

    It’s divine timing that I am reading your article about the psoas. My husband is suffering from a torn psoas tendon (post hip replacement surgery) that is requiring a tenotomy. Your article is very informative and I am going to make sure that my husband also gets to read it. Even though we have had extensive talks with our surgeon, naturally, we are still concerned about the outcome. Our understanding is that with extensive therapy other muscles and tendons will take over the role of this tendon and allow him to walk normally and without pain. Any comments anyone has to share is much appreciated. Thanks.

  39. KATHY
    2 years ago

    Is strengthening the psoas muscle the key to reversing pelvic prolapse?

  40. Jen
    2 years ago

    Yes. This is great information and the right time to hear it. I’m going to go stretch now.

  41. Moira
    2 years ago

    As a Yoga teacher to seniors I speak of the Psoas muscle a lot. This excellent article has brought much clarity and added a lot to my understanding of the many affects the Psoas had on the mind and body. Thank you so much.

  42. Nat
    2 years ago

    Love your posts & generosity of spirit. I was just diagnosed with Pelvic Congestion. I’m 52, overall healthy, menstruating every 2-3 months. Symptoms: Nausea, Burning & excess Urination, painful abdomen, lower back, pelvis & inner thigh, few fibroids 18mm. Can you please direct me to any natural & Non surgical treatments? I value your opinion. Love and Blessings

  43. Michelle Wald PT, LMT
    2 years ago

    All great info, thanks! I have found all of this to be helpful. Structural bodywork can improve the function, balance and tone of the Psoas. I would only recommend gentle work for manual releases.

  44. Denise
    2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this information, as I am currently experiencing low and mid back pain, some constipation/slowed digestion (which was quite puzzling) issues over past week. At first I thought you it was my sciatica, but am rethinking it.

  45. Donald Theiss
    2 years ago

    I would love if you would create a training video to show exercises to strengthen the psoas muscle. I dislocated my femur and cracked my femur and hip bone and am having flexibiltiy problems even though I do yoga and stretch every day.

  46. Paula
    2 years ago

    This sounds just like my symptoms.
    Slight uneven leg. Hip and lower back pain.
    NO. Sex drive.
    Heavy object fell on back.

    Thanks. I never heard of this muscle.
    You are awesome Christiane. I wish I had your strength and fortitude to know how to take care of my needs. All love!

  47. Marika Cartwright
    2 years ago

    Namaste Dr Northrup*
    I couldn’t agree with you more *l am a teacher of Pilates for many years & yoga *Feldenkrais rehabe physio support healing through movement & meditation *in many ways *l love how
    today we can be who & what we choose *if & apply these techniques to have amazing bodies & good health *l have also had my share from over use muscle groups & operations *one recently being feet *long recovery *but have not given up & have been doing & applying everything in my knowledge to heal including tapping eft *as well as swimming as l love the ocean *l must say l am nearing that big 60 yrs & most yhink l am 47 yrs or even younger *this is due to my belief system & application to life in a balanced way *being with nature as much as possible to absorb the energy field that exists quantum physics *the tao philosophy as l teach that as well *l send you blessings & thank you for all you share *awesome *l have forwarded your web to many of my participants & family in harmony *balance & wellbeing Marika from Sydney Australia

  48. Ronna Berezin
    2 years ago

    I left a long message , but it dissappeared.

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      Hate it when that happens. so sorry!

  49. Marjorie
    2 years ago

    Dr. Northrop…i can’t believe it i am reading this article. You are God send. I never knew about these muscles and am i ever happy because i am going to get the chance to dance when i recover. I started to notice these little pains around those areas and had no idea what to do and didn’t want to tell my Dr., Now you are my on line Dr. forever i am so happy. Started doing the exercises and follow some of these beautiful women’s advise. We are in this journey together. We are fighters and strong. Let’s not forget that.
    Good dancing to all.

  50. Terri Lynn Fucile
    2 years ago

    My favorite way to release the psoas muscle and the stress associated with it is TRE, short for Trauma Release Exercise. It feels wonderful and has really helped me learn how to self regulate.

  51. thestresshacker
    2 years ago

    As a yoga teacher & psychotherapist who discovered Liz Koch 10 years ago, I am now the ultimate Psoas bore! Thank you for this article it has added to my knowledge base. It is fascinating and i believe Constructive Rest Pose is the best to release all manner of problems. Less is more.

  52. Katherine Kerber
    2 years ago

    There is a very safe way to lengthen the Psoas which does not require stretching. What you essentially do is contract the muscle a small amount (simply by lifting one foot off the floor 2-4″ while seated) and then VERY SLOWLY release it. That activity resets the resting tension level in the brain. The more you do it, the more relaxed and refreshed the muscle is to do its normal function. We never lose the ability to do this, unless we develop a neurological problem. This is essentially what all vertebrate animals do, but we humans have looked at it as stretching. Downward dog (for a real dog) is really a contraction of its back muscles, not a stretch. As Steve Jobs always said, Think Different!

    1. karen
      2 years ago

      katherine kerber…when you say very slowly, how many seconds would that be? and how many times? how often? thank you SO much for the exercise info 🙂

    2. Jennie
      2 years ago

      Thank you for this, have tried it several times for two days and it has alreafy made a difference.

    3. Leslie
      11 months ago

      Should you do the slow lift only on one leg or each leg? Thanks, Leslie

  53. DIANNE
    2 years ago

    Thank you so much for writing on this subject, perfect timing. I knew all
    this stuff when I did Yoga Teacher training but have since lapsed and have
    now had to face it with some recent discomfort I’ve had. You’ve been my
    hero since 1992, invaluable information !

  54. Ana
    2 years ago

    Thank you so much for all you do for us women. Through you, I have learned to be so excited for the future and reclaim the fun me. I love it! p.s. You look younger and younger every time I see you. 🙂

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      Oh bless you!

  55. Patricia O'Brien
    2 years ago

    Dr. Northrup, Thank you SO much! I am having the exact troubles you describe. I am actually home from work today due to pelvic discomfort. I will start working on this today! You are a goddess, always there with the best advice. Keep writing, and keep dancing! Sincerely, Patti

  56. Kristine
    2 years ago

    Great information and tips Dr. Northrup! Broke my right pubic bone and fractured sit bone in a car accident 30 years ago with little rehab. That, along with a left Morton’s Toe has resulted in my pelvis tilting up & forward. Always looking for additional information to assist with unwinding/resolving physical issues and today the Universe provided a jackpot. I’ve gained more understanding how it’s all related along with a few more tips to incorporate for healing. Thank you very much for ALL the knowledge you present!!

    It’s amazing how all is c

  57. Lilian
    2 years ago

    Great information Dr Northrup.As a retired physiotherapist I dug out The Psoas book when I was experiencing back, hip and knee issues.I have been following the instructions on a daily basis over the last week and already I am noticing positive changes.
    Your blog could not have been more timely for me.
    Many many thanks.

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      Love Divine timing, right? thank you

  58. Lori
    2 years ago

    This lesson came at the right moment for me these days that my Psoas is tight and painful. My therapist told me that the Psoas is the “Soul’s muscle” and it hurts when we aren’t doing what we came to do on Earth or when our souls start to “wake up”.
    Any information about this deeper meaning of Psoas imbalance would be appreciated.
    Thank you!

  59. Maureen
    2 years ago

    OMG- Thank you so much for this. About 2 years ago I could not get out of bed without extreme pain in my lower back and internally. It was only getting worse and I wasn’t sure what it was. Neither massage nor chiropractic was working. I had been exercising and was at the lightest weight I have been in years. Basically in good shape for my age of 50. I had been under tremendous stress from Super Storm Sandy and the eventually deaths of both my parents. I knew it was all related and I determined it was a muscle. I did a lot of internet investigation and determined it was the Psoas. I was at a loss as to how to calm it. One day, I was in one of the big box stores and saw yoga DVD’s. My inner voice said try it see if it will help. Luckily, I listened and slowly I have been recovering…there are a few critical poses that really help. I am back to exercising carefully, doing yoga stretching and my favorite…paddle boarding…Your pictures are fantastic and have validated my assessment. I hope others see this and it helps them understand this hidden, but critical muscle.

  60. June Smith
    2 years ago

    Dr, Northrup, I had the same experience with dance! I saw an elderly Latino couple dancing salsa at a small outdoor concert, and I said, I’m going to learn how to do Latin partner dancing! Now, almost 10 years later, and older than you are, I’m still dancing salsa, cha cha and bachata, my three favorites for partner dancing. Life is good!

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      Celebrating with you!!! yay!!!

  61. Sherri
    2 years ago

    Thank you for your consistent sharing, healings, and love, that you so freely give! We all see you walking your “talk”, and guiding others to walk along side you in Truth, and wakeful consciousness.
    Sending you Big Bear Hug embraces, returned Love & Light, and blessings.
    We are All Of One.
    Keep Dancing!

  62. Eileen
    2 years ago

    I really appreciate the info! Thank you for helping to keep us healthy!

  63. Valerie Knowles
    2 years ago

    Hello Christiane:
    I am just now discovering the psoas, so it is wonderful to read your article. I have had treatment by a Chiropractor and an Active Release Technique doctor. No one mentioned this muscle but I looked up on line and am working on my muscles with the exercises. You are so right, regarding being able to walk and dance as we get older. I am seventy two and want to stay healthy and happy. I have found so many seniors give up. I have your book a reread chapters all the time.

  64. Elena
    2 years ago

    Great content. The Psoas muscle was completely new to me. Thank you for the anatomy lesson showing us our deficiency as well as solutions.

  65. Mette
    2 years ago

    Such a great Blog about the Psoas muscle! Thank you so much for Sharing your insightful wisdom and knowledge on the subject. It has been a great eye opener and help

  66. Catherine
    2 years ago

    Thankyou for reminding me about the psoas, I learned about this muscle from a physio some years ago but did not know about the connection with stress and traumas. I have a disability and ongoing severe pain which I have had for many years and now at 72 was begining to think my life is over, however your article on the psoas has given me hope and I will look into doing something to try and help my psoas and perhaps alleviate some pain.

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      Add some Divine Love to the mix too. Check out http://www.worldserviceinstitute.org And thank you!

  67. Linda
    2 years ago

    Loved this info ! As always, you are right on with Ageless aging.
    You also make me want to dance tango. I just need to find a partner I want to be that close to.
    How did you find one?

  68. Deanna Dubbin
    2 years ago

    I was not able to visualize the exercise you gave for the psoas with the hips against the wall. Is there a video of this exercise?
    Thank you for helping me through my post ovulation period. You are a God send.

  69. Alexandra
    2 years ago

    Dr. Northrup I get such a kick out of seeing you dance that it has rekindled the fire in me to dance something I have always loved and allows the music in me to soar. Keep posting pictures of you dancing — I love it.

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      Thank you!! I’m finally finding MYSELF in the dance. I kind of lost her about when I was five. But she’s BACK. Thanks for the encouragement!!!

  70. Kylie
    2 years ago

    Thank you Dr Northrup, I’m so glad you are sharing this information, and I love the graphics included here, they are very informative.
    I believe it is really important that women (all people actually) know about the function and impact that the Psoas has on wellbeing.
    I’ve attended several of Liz Koch’s workshops and learned much about my body, and myself through exploration and care of my Psoas. I highly recommend them. Restoring your Psoas is great for enhancing your sexlife too!
    I found that some yoga aggravated my Psoas imbalance, and that instead as a whole body modality, the Feldenkrais Method is much more nurturing and restorative physically and emotionally for a tight or overworked Psoas.

  71. Susan Jenkins
    2 years ago

    Love your blog’s!

  72. Patty
    2 years ago

    Thank you, Dr. Northrop. You are always keeping us in your thoughts and heart. We appreciate your efforts and life’s work. Patty

  73. Sandy
    2 years ago

    I’ve never heard about the Psoas muscle before and its effect on the rest of the body. Thanks for putting this information out.

  74. Mandy
    2 years ago

    Excellent information, Thank you for addressing this very important muscle. As a yoga teacher and one with a short and tight psoas, it’s so important that we understand our bodies and those we work with.

  75. Fay Daub
    2 years ago

    I love reading your articles on women’s health. Learning a lot about my body. Being retired limits me to some resources, so reading your articles is great. Hope you keep doing them. Thank you very much.

  76. Carol D.
    2 years ago

    THANK YOU SO SO MUCH ! this is exactly the kind of information that I have been seeking. My body is still recovering from a car crash ( hit by an intoxicated driver) July 29, 2015. I had a cracked right ankle & deep bone bruises to my chest plus a hematoma on top of right foot ( Chiropractic doc later discovered toes out of joint ) . Some trauma to neck , shoulders & spine although nothing showed on CAT scan. Am finally able to work on getting my core strength back via PILATES. Low back discomfort is slowly going away. I am also doing lots of emotional release work. I am confident this information is a huge key to my body fully recovering to be even stronger. I intend to be stronger by the time I am 80 than I was at 60 !!!! Have lived on this Earth for 72+ years already ! Blessings to you Dr. Northrup once again giving me vital information !

    1. Christiane
      2 years ago

      beautiful work. And I am SO SORRY this happened to you. So very sorry.

  77. Sue martinez
    2 years ago

    Wonderfully informative! Thank you deeply.

  78. Cheryl
    2 years ago

    Very helpful . Thank you so much.

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