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 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 of your aches and pains, including low back and pelvic pain.
The types of movement that 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 because 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 5th 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 toward your chest, for example, when you are going up stairs. They also help to move your leg forward when you walk or run. These same muscles flex your trunk forward when you 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. They 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. 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, or 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.
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.
Here are 7 ways to tell if you have a psoas muscle imbalance:
- Leg length discrepancy. A tight psoas muscle can cause your pelvis to rotate forward. This, in turn, can cause an internal rotation of your leg on the affected side. The opposite leg will rotate externally in an effort to counterbalance. 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.
- 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 torque.
- 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 cause the sacrum to lose its natural curve and result 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.
- 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.
- Menstrual cramps. An imbalance in your psoas muscles can be partially responsible for menstrual cramps, as it puts added pressure on your reproductive organs.
- 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 overuse of your neck muscles.
- 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 an imbalance in your psoas muscles. Getting things back in balance will give you a greater range of motion and relief from pain. Plus, you will feel more grounded and relaxed!
Here are some tips for getting things back in balance:
- 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. It’s a good idea to put a towel folded lengthwise under your hips when sitting. This tilts the pelvis in a way that lengthens the hamstrings and relaxes the psoas muscles. Avoid bucket seats and chairs without support for your low back. Try to get up and move around every hour.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 doorway.) 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.
- 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.
- 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 neurobiological rhythms that calm and refresh.
- 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.
- 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. It is 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 Epsom salts. Acknowledge your emotions, express them, and release them. Divine Love is a great way to heal from past traumas. Finally, get out and do something pleasurable every day!
Use Pandiculation to Heal Your Psoas and All Your Muscles
Pandiculation, or active stretching, is a somatic movement that is typically associated with yawning, especially when you first wake up in the morning, but it is so much more than that. Pandiculation is actually your nervous system’s wake-up call. In fact, it has been called “nature’s reset button” because it prepares your sensory-motor system for movement. And pandiculation is critical to the proper functioning of your entire musculoskeletal system.
If you have ever seen a cat or dog move when they first wake up, you have probably noticed how they arch their backs up then drop their bellies while they lengthen their legs. We sometimes call this a “cat-cow” stretch in yoga. But your dog or cat is pandiculating. Humans pandiculate automatically when waking or after we have been sedentary for a while. Even fetuses have been seen pandiculating in the womb—it’s that deeply ingrained in our nervous systems.
Gentle somatic movement patterns that incorporate pandiculation can retrain your brain and muscles so that your muscles move more easily. Pandiculation works by sending biofeedback to your brain informing it of the level of contraction in your muscles. When done regularly, pandiculation can help prevent chronic muscle tension, restore proper muscle function, and even lengthen short, overly tight muscles.
Preventing muscle tension is critical to maintaining healthy posture and movement. The best part is you can learn how to do somatic movements at home to help ease the pain of tight muscles, including your psoas muscles.
There are 3 steps to a pandiculation:
- Flex. Gently contract the tense muscles. So, let’s say you have tight trapezius muscles and a sore neck and shoulders. You could contract your trapezius muscles and lift your shoulders to your ears.
- Extend. Slowly lengthen the muscles you have contracted. In the case of your shoulders, start to slowly pull them down and away from your ears. Do this in a controlled manner.
- Relax. Completely relax the muscles. When you relax the muscles you just contracted and lengthened, your brain integrates the new feedback. This helps your brain remember that those muscles don’t have to stay stuck.
Start with contracting and releasing one muscle at a time, then progress to a small group of muscles, and eventually move to larger movements involving many muscles and even your whole body.
Everyone can practice pandiculation. Some exercise forms, such as yoga and resistance flexibility, actually incorporate pandiculation. You can find specific pandiculation movement patterns online or look for a somatic movement class or workshop. It’s easy to perform pandiculation in as little as 5 minutes at home. Or you can do it 40 to 50 times per day—just like your dog or cat does!
Do You Suffer from Psoas Syndrome?
While most people with psoas imbalances will be able to heal through the exercises I mention above, there are some people who suffer from psoas syndrome, a painful condition often misdiagnosed because the symptoms are difficult to distinguish from other causes of back and hip pain. It’s not uncommon for people with psoas syndrome to see many doctors and have many tests, the results of which can be inconclusive. While psoas syndrome is more common in athletes, people who sit a lot can also be at risk.
Since the pain referral pattern of psoas syndrome is similar to other potentially serious conditions, doctors will want to rule out other causes of pain. One condition that psoas syndrome may mimic is a herniated nucleus pulposus. This is a condition in which part of the soft, gelatinous central portion of the disk is forced through a weakened part of the disk. Other conditions that psoas syndrome may mimic include hip arthritis, femoral bursitis, hip tendonitis, diverticulitis, salpingitis (inflammation of the Fallopian tubes), urethral stones, and even colon cancer.
When to Suspect You Have Psoas Syndrome
People who suffer from psoas syndrome have certain symptoms in common. The primary symptom is pain in the lumbosacral region when sitting or standing and pain that worsens when doing anything that bends the hip, such as walking, climbing stairs, squatting, and sitting. You may also have difficulty standing erect. Pain in the glutes is another common symptom, especially contralateral pain that radiates down the opposite leg. This pain usually stops at the knee. Pain in the lower abdomen, groin, iliac crest, and thigh/leg are also common.
If you suffer from these symptoms, be sure to see your health care provider to rule out other conditions and injuries. You may need a physical exam of your back and hip and diagnostic tests. If you are diagnosed with psoas syndrome, seek a practitioner who is experienced in applied kinesiology and biomechanics and who can address any potential pelvic distortion, joint restrictions, foot pronation, and hip and knee imbalances. Some chiropractors and massage therapists also have experience in treating psoas syndrome and use specific techniques, such as joint clearing, soft tissue release, cross-fiber massage, muscle energy, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching to help relieve symptoms.
I am already benefiting from having read and heeding your comments about the Psoas muscle. As an eighty year-old man with years of “advanced osteoporosis” (my doc’s description), I realized my problem as soon as I read your article, “Why Your Psoas Muscle Is The Most Vital Muscle in Your Body”. I immediatly began minor exercises, learned from a young physical therapist just prior to Covid turning into the threat it has become.
At my age, I am still at my desk, daily, and all of what you explained (sitting on the couch, etc.) describes me. I immediatly begin lightly stretching and exercising like I was taught and within a week and even more so a few weeks later, I feel great. My left hip was giving way on me if I did not practice totally perfect posture. I still watch how I stand and move, but no more surprises.
I’m doing iliopsoas release surgery. I tried deep tissue massage, chiropractic care, cranial sacral therapy and physical therapy. Nothing worked so I’m left with the release surgery.
Hi Allison, what were your symptoms and how were you diagnosed to need release surgery. I had a total hip replacement and I feel my psoas has become entrapped as it passes over my hip socket making it painful to lift my leg as I walk and get into a car. Did you experience any of this? How are you doing after your surgery, did it help.
Thank you for all the extremely helpful information & insight!
Very helpful, thank you!
I agree that the psoas is important, however something that seems to be missing from this article is its link to the hip joint mechanics. When a hip in unstable, such as due to dysplasia or hypermobility (or the two combined), the psoas works harder to stabilize and this puts a lot of strain on it. “Psoas syndrome” as you call it may in fact be undiagnosed dysplasia. It certainly was in my case. It might be worth adding something about the link to dysplasia, and in these cases the only resolution to psoas pain is surgery to remodel the hip socket. There’s very little information in medical literature about adult hip dysplasia so awareness is limited and it often takes many misdiagnoses and failed operations before a patient reaches a diagnosis.
Thank you for a thorough overview that creates an understanding of what I can add to my at home yoga physical therapy after a fall. It comes at a great time in my recovery from a leg accident nearly 2 years ago! I am lucky to only have occasional aches in my ankle as compensating and causing longer leg. I see a chiropractor that addresses it the same day and lasting at least a week so far. Now I know how I can help visualize the position needed for it to heal.
I have had lower back pain for years. I had bi-lateral knee replacements in 2004 and repair of left knee in 2008. 7 years ago I began having spasms which I felt in my lower private areas, I saw several doctors had MRI’s from head to feet, X-rays, CT, no one was able to give me a diagnosis. in 2017 I began having weakness of my legs, pain, numbness and tingling from under my breast to my toes, I have seen several Neurologists, Orthopedic, Psychiatrist, Endocrinologist and medical Doctors, I attended one year of physical and holistic therapy, every kind of blood work was ordered “Negative” and tests that each of the above professional ordered, I was also tested for Ataxia at NY Presbyterian, “negative” I was diagnosis with hyperthyroidism which is resolved, diabetes A1C is 5.6, To date no one is able to give me a diagnosis my condition is getting worst, I use a cane and a rollator, I have no balance. I found this article about the PSOA syndrome, I live in Queens New York is there anyone who can recommend a professional, I would greatly appreciate the help
Cecily, some one I know was finally diagnosed with “Levator Spasm,” which might be what you are dealing with. A more general term for this is “Levator Ani Syndrome.” For what it’s worth, a gynecologist finally diagnosed the condition for my friend. When you said you have spasms in your lower private areas I thought you might have the same thing. I wish you luck.
Thank you for this excellent article! My psoas dysfunction was once so bad that I could barely walk. My PCP & physical therapist were stumped, but a local sports-related chiropractor zeroed in on the psoas at my first visit. He reached in there and massaged it and voila — I could walk again! I didn’t get any at-home exercises or prevention techniques from him though, so I really appreciate the ones you included here. Thanks again!
Hi Janice, Your experience is great! Do you happen to live in NYC? Would you mind giving me your chiroprator’s name so I can reach out? Maybe he can recommend someone in NYC.
I have an atrophied psoas muscle after having had a hip replacement revision surgery in Sept of 2021. I have had 3 EMGs and autoimmune testing, I have also had 7 months of physical therapy twice a week. However the MRI from two weeks ago states: “marked atrophy of the left psoas and short external rotator muscles, likely related to hip arthroplasty placement.” I can hardly walk, and PT fatigues me and hurts so much that my physiatrist stopped it, though I am going to see another physiatrist for a second opinion. When I read your post, I wondered if your chiropractor could help me. I live in NYC and wonder if you would give me his name and information. I am glad you got relief from your psoas problem!
I am a yoga instructor and wellness coach and this article is soooooo good. I can nerd out on all this info all day! Saving this to come back to when working with my clients. This is such a well thought out article with so much good info thank you so much!
Ong! I have this! I’ve been told I have a pelvic torsion, one leg gets shorter than the other! I completely cannot bed, lean, sit, do stairs, or walk upright!!!! It’s my lumbar-sacral region, pelvis, hips, and this last bout, painin my thighs! No pain only when I’m off my feet, flat in my back!!!
Great article. After significant problems with hip and gluteal pain, I’m now convinced it’s all coming from a very tight psoas muscle. Giving myself trigger point therapy through the left side of my abdomen with a theracane has given me absolute relief. Although it tends to creep back because the psoas muscle is difficult to stretch if that’s what is needed. Too many doctors fail to give adequate attention to this important muscle and the way it interacts with other muscles in the hip/back/buttocks area.
Psoas is certainly what results when this muscle group becomes unequal in tone from one side to the other. This article by Dr. Northrup is one of the most valuable presentations of this all-too-commonly-overlooked cause of low back instability, altered posture, and pain syndromes in all of health care. It is also this imbalance in children which can leadd to the development of scoliosis as a compensating adaptation to the unlevel sacral base. Please share this article widely and especially show this to your Chiropractor, also. This is why so many are perceived to need spinal adjusting, while the underlying cause remains unaddressed. Dr. Northrup teaches how to address the underlying cause(s) – the psoas. Thank you for this enlightening perspective.
I have been dealing with pelvic pain for almost a year now. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t hurt. After numerous trips to the doctor, I have finally found a pelvic pain specialist who diagnosed the pain from my psoas. I have gained 20+ lbs over the last year. If I exercise, I hurt. It has started to effect my back, side, and glutes.
I have tried small doses of steroid shots, physical therapy, stretching, and seeing a chiropractor. The pain may ease up, but never goes away. I take OTC pain medications around the clock with Bayer Back & Body giving me more relief. Muscle relaxers only ease the pain some.
Please advise. This is starting to take an mental toil on my well being.
I highly recommend the course at https://somaticmovementcenter.com – everything you need to get your Psoas back in shape.
I also find indigestion has mechanical involvement, the psoas connects to the diaphragm, via fascia. Besides stretching, soft tissue/percussive therapy helps.
I have improved a lot with chiropractic, massage therapy and exercises but it has bothered my digestion. I still have issues but my legs would feel like it was going to give out. That is gone. Now to get my digestion back to normal.
My brother’s doctors have recommended complete removal of his psoas muscle due to a tumor, but a tumor that has come back “inconclusive” on all tests to determine what it actually is. Have you ever heard of this? Have you ever encountered something similar with other options (rather than removal) available?
I’ve never treated a psoas problem due to a standing and twisting upper body while lower is stationary. That is typically seen in quadratus lumborum strains. Jean Lee, CNMT, LMT
Thanks for this thorough and well explained article. Last year I had a 17cm x 10 cm tumour removed from my right psoas muscle. I had not heard of the psoas muscle before, so panicked a bit when I learned of their importance.
During surgery for the tumour resection, my right psoas muscle was damaged slightly- but preserved (phew!) so I was very grateful to find your helpful article re: caring for the psoas and the Psoas book recommendation 🙂
What a fascinating and informative
I’ve recently diagnosed with Psoas Syndrome, I’m a 53 year old female and a regular runner.
I did a big 37km trail run carrying a 4-5kg backpack about a month ago,
About 2 weeks later my pain started.
Initially across the base of my back on both sides.
It’s now focussed on the left leg, starting in the buttock, through the groin and down the thigh
I’ve been in pain and discomfort now for 2 weeks now.
My GP gave me some good exercises and fortunately for me my husband is an Occupational Therapist so lots of massages available.
I’ll be trying some of your suggested exercises!!
Thank You x
Interesting article, thanks!….12 years ago I had a huge (size of a small football) tumor removed from my lower back, 7+ hour operation. My Dr. said my one Psoas showed complete deterioration. Had another Doc. say it would fatten back up, whatever that means. Meanwhile I been having off on pain over the years since, recently front pelvic area. I’m a veteran and letting my VA. Dr. know of the intel I’m finding out. Don’t really know what can be done with myself if anything. I’m 56, male.
I loved all of this information but in reading through the signs leading to Psoas Syndrome or psoas muscle imbalance, I could not distinguish what might be the result of a short tight psoas in need of stretching, and what was because of it being weak and over stretched and in need of strengthening.
Hi dr. Northrup, I really enjoyed this article. It covered so many different parts of how the body and the mind are connected. I recently wrote a book called Being Fit Mindfully which also shows how connected the brain and body needs to be when we exercise with the Positive approach. Thank you for sharing this information in such a thorough and practical way. I hope to help people appreciate their bodies and be more balanced in every way. My book is available on Amazon if you’re interested. I would love to get your feedback on it, and possibly your support as well.
Does anyone know if, instead of causing functional leg length differences a tight psoas can cause you to walk with your leg turned out? My right leg has always turned out extremely easy and my hamstrings and external rotation of the hip is such that even my 40s I can wrap it behind my shoulder if I want. About 8 years ago I started hurting all the time, and I started searching for ways to relieve the pain. Recent yoga has shown me it’s not flexible in the other direction- a runner’s lunge is very tight. The more I’ve worked on loosening the psoas, the more my back and hip pain is manageable. But I walk with that leg turned out so much I was wondering if that’s the cause of the tight psoas or if I have causation reversed. (Or if they’re just coincidental and not related.)
I’m a student studying Myotherapy
This article is fascinating!
Do you have any references/research articles that I can look at?
Hi Dr. Northrup,
Your article made a lot of sense to me and I am thinking I could have issues with my Psoas muscle…. I am 56 years old, and overweight, I know that doesn’t help any of my issues. I have had issues for years with my knees and other body pains… I had full bilateral knee replacements in Dec 2008 then just had a left knee revision in Nov 2019, I have to have the right knee done sometime in future. Prior to November’s revision I was having right hip to upper thigh ‘spasms’ occasionally…. then after surgery it got worse and worse. I am still having spasms not as frequently but my hips hurt badly in the morning when I get up and I feel pain in hips, thighs and back… I do sit most of the time… I work at computer and because of my issues I sit a lot. My physical therapist did tell me to do front thigh/hip stretches where I lean against wall and stretch. When I get the “spasm” it is debilitating and have to use walker to try to walk… very upsetting and scary. I am too young to feel this damn old. Your article doesn’t meantion “spasms” as a sign of psoas muscle issues but with hips, back and the spasms I feel that is what it could be. Any thought?
Find an experienced Bowenwork / Bowen Therapist. I have had wonderful results from this amazing soft-tissue therapy for what my chiro called a “psoas spasm” (so much pain & walking “bent over” for 2 weeks, ugh. I’d feel better for 30mins after chiro & it would be back. Family doc just wanted to give me muscle relaxers – no thank you. Just a few Bowen treatments with Elizabeth Masters in Scottsdale AZ & all was finally released! Amazing!!
Caroline – thank you so, so much for sharing your experience. I’d never heard of Bowen therapy before, but as soon as I read your review, I looked it up. I’ve been non-functional for over 2 weeks with severe low back pain, psoas spasm, etc. and my chiro appts were not helping. I’ve already had my first Bowen session, and I’m feeling much better! Thank you for introducing me to a new alternative treatment form. I’m eager to see if Bowen treatments also benefit my chronic GI and insomnia issues…..
And thanks to Dr. Northrop for such an informative article about such an important muscle!
Really great, informative, well-explained article. Thanks.
Do you have a link to a site that will show me how to stretch the psoas muscle? I read your paragraph, but a few pictures would be helpful.
Have an issue in my lower back. I had a fall at home some years back. I have a pain just below the center line of my back. The pain radiates down the right side, into my hip, in to the siatic nerve, how ever you spell it, in to the quad muscle and then in to the the out side of my left knee. If I walk any distance, it goes in to my foot and is what has been diagnosed as drop foot. I have had two back surgeries, a lamenotomy and a lamentectomy, last one in 2016 and I still have this issue. Have you ever heard of issues with the psoas muscles causing drop foot???. All MD’s in this area, seem to either have no experience with this area, or because I have Medicare, don’t think they will get their money back for their time from the insurance companies. In a deep funk here. Been in pain a long time. Been very active until this. what do you think?
I have the same symptoms. Declining surgery at this time. My condition is worsening. Were you able to find out anything?
I also have similar symptoms and drop foot. Surgery, discectomy, did not correct this, but sleep is much better. PT has helped. Wondering what the answers to these 2 questions are.
Thank you. It is clear that constant weedwacking has been the recent source of this and now I finally know why..Loved the interview on Food Revolution…
I’ve eventually found an explanation for the pain that comes and goes in my lower back!After my second pregnancy I developed firstly Sacroiliac Dysfunction (SI)then Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)
I trained up until my early 20’s in dance and kept myself active and fit even when I stopped dancing.So when I had a flare up and struggled to even sit/walk never mind workout this was so frustrating!I tried physio but that barely worked,I’ve since found a guy who is an alternative therapist and he manipulates my hips,pelvis,glutes and after a couple of clicks I feel realigned both legs equal length again!
I do pilates which has really helped but as soon as I stop training it doesn’t take much for it go go again.I get a lot of pain in my gut area when I’m out of sync and bloating.Since reading your article this has explained why this could be happening.
Thanks for all the comments too as I’ve scribbled down all the advice I’m going to look at some techniques.
Great article!! My husband was diagnosed with psoas syndrome after two years of copious tests for all sorts of things.
He spent a while rebuilding and going to physical therapy and got a lot better. His pain went away and he was able to start working again.
His pain is starting to come back, fortunately we know what to do this time!
One odd thing I would like to ask about, since I cannot seem to find any link to it.. But his pain is in his lower back, stretching around his hip.. He says it comes around when he is hungry, and goes away for a while after he eats a meals worth of food?! How does that work?
Thank you so much. I always learn from anything you publish and am then inspired to share it with others. Through Divine Guidance I recently became certified as a massage therapist (after working as a counselor for many years). I am still adjusting to learning about the body, massage, and trying to figure out what the heck I’m doing- you have explained things SO beautifully. Thank you! I can’t wait until this virus thing is over so I can open the doors of my new wholistic business and share things like this in sessions, classes, massage, etc. (And just in case you see my email address it was derived from expressing my Finnish heritage when I was in my 20s and I obviously won’t be using it in my business. Lol!)
An orthopaedic physiotherapist should be added to the list of potential practitioners qualified to assess and treat this condition
This is wonderfully written and easily understood
After 10 years I still can’t get the on /off pain under control though,
The pain I experience one side continues to come & go and move around
I hyper extended into the lateral splits on ice Dec 2017 my legs at the knees came straight out to my sides. I broke my femur tibia and fibula of my right leg around the knee, tore both hip labrum she. I had arthroscopic labrum repair Feb and Sept. my orthopedic doctor said my right side has psoa set in. Well I am still unable to work up to any kind of full activity. If I walk around the mall or a flea market etc I am in so much pain in my hips and my legs don’t want to move. My left side also had a tendon stretched along with labrum repair. I’ve been in so much pain after cleaning house that Ive ended up in the ER. My current MRI of the lumbar shows compression on L 4 & 5 now. I am now also suffering major gastrointestinal issue where 80 mg of Omeprazole a day isn’t even helping. I have a severe allergy to Lidocaine and Cortizone so not able to have injections. My Orthopedic doctor says there is nothing they can do. I have tried 2 years of PT and they can’t get me past table exercises.
Is there anything else I can do? I can’t sleep at night for the pain waking me up. I am only 58 years old and not able to work between my legs and arms. My arthritis and bone spurs in my cervical spine and Thoracic. I miss being active and want to get back to hiking and biking and being out doors!
I recommend you find a Chek practitioner in your area, they will be able to help you recover from this injury. Best.
Wonderful explanation- thank you for your text.
64 and how do I deal with painful psoas bursitis. Size of baseball on CT. Shoulder/neck, abdominal, bladder incontinence,liver area under ribs, my back up to my diaphragm. Had all tests to rule out gallstones and GI issues I am told it is from artritis. More or less live with it. I read about a T-sheltz wrap for deep tissue electromagnetic energy waves…any thoughts on this device
Denise I have most if the same symptoms as you, but have not been diagnosed as bursitis. I have really bad abdominal churning too. Had lots if tests like you. I have anxiety and despair that I am never going to improve.
Have you found anything that eases your pain?
Hope you feel better
You can go check out an experienced massage therapist, osteopath or bodytalk practitioner. The cascade of issues and symptoms you experience are a run-on effect of a dysfunctional psoas
Dear Christiane I have been suffering with pins & needles in my calf & foot when I sit, which then turns into a severe cramping pain in my right buttocks & calf , I can stand walk & lie but cannot sit ,this all started 3months ago , I assumed it was sciatica so decided to see a osteopath & after 6 sessions he seems to think it’s coming from my psoas muscle because when he presses into my psoas & bring my knees up to my chest this sets off the pins & needles & cramping . I’ve been doing Bodybalance , palates & swimming which I have had to stop as it seemed to make things worse , I don’t know wether I should go to see my go & ask for a MRI , my osteopath thinks it’s a waste of time , could you advise me on what to do
Thank you sue Wheatcroft
My daughter is a massage therapist. I get a massage from her every week. In school they hardly covered the soas muscle.
For the first time in months she worked on my soas muscle. It was extremely uncomfortable, but I believe this will help me with my chronic lower back and hip pain.
We also discovered that taking a hot magnesium bath before the massage helps with opening up the fascia and allowing for a deeper tissue massage without it being as painful or uncomfortable.
Great article. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
I have suffered with what I though was sciatica for many years explained by my doctor. I recently seen a chiropractor and he said it is Psoas. Do they present the same symptoms.
I’ve been dealing with a damaged psoas tendon for close to two years. My primary care doctor simply diagnosed it as an abdominal strain and sent me for physical therapy. Unknown to me and my Doctor, the tendon was pulled out of position by a super tight glute. A chiropractor found the problem in March, 2018, and released the glute. Finally, after zero improvement, I found a sports medicine specialist on my own. He ordered an MRI before doing anything. I am now going to physical therapy where they actually know what they are doing. They are also doing manipulations, because my walk and gait were way off balance. I Have a long way to go, but I’m able to walk up stairs without the railing. The pain is still there but the burning sensation is gone. This article was very informative.
What did the MRI show by any chance . I am going through a similar issue
A year ago i had a total hip replacement and my psoas was locked up and i could not flex my hip. After six months i had a nerve study and it stated, Changes present in the Illiopsos muscle with a significant loss of functioning motor units consistant with the presence of focal chronic incomplete involvement of the lumbar plexus intervention of the illiopsos muscle. i have been out of work for a year now and have trouble breathing and am constipated. Can you help please?
Do you have an update on your issue? After my hip replacement, I still have groin pain and associated mid-lower back pain with chronic rectus femoris tendonitis.
I have EDS and this article hits all my recent issues on the head. Constipation, adrenal issues (who would have thought),bladder dysfunction, tight breathing that all comes and goes. Could never put my foot on it other then it was always accompanied by two tight muscles in my core. Eds has some of these issues but i always felt like i had flares. This explains a lot. Thanks.
i have EDS too and have every symptom including an altered gait, this was such a beneficial read!
A recent MRI showed that the Psoas Muscle on the left side of my body is completly deteriorated ,I have severe pain on my left side and my hip on that side hurts. Is there anything that can be doneI really need help with this.
I recommend seeing if there is someone near you show has been trained by Anatomy Trains– the work of Tom Meyers. Go to http://www.anatomytrains.com These individuals can often help. The other thing that really helps is the work of Esther Gokhale. http://www.thegokhalemethod.com Esther and those trained by her offer primal posture training. And this can very much help with the psoas, back pain, and pretty much everything else in the body! HOpe this helps.
I can’t believe I have found you Dr.Northrup, I am a 70year old female with MS, for the past 2years I have had a problem with dropped foot, knee and hip problem, I havent been able to get any answers until learning about the psoas muscle. Thank you so much.
Check out Liz Koch’s newest book on the psoas: Stalking the Wild Psoas. I think you’ll find it very instructive!!
Thank you for your information. In July 2018 I had septic shock, septicemia, osteomyelitis, discitis. I was found to have UTI, MRSA, and bilateral abscesses of my psoas muscles. I was on IV antibiotics for 14 weeks. I have had to relearn to sit, stand. I have incomplete paraplegia. With assistance I can stand, pivot, walk with assistance.
I have parestesias, pain of feet. Can you comment about my unusual? findings.
Lorraine, please look into taking vitamin b12 drops in form of methylcobalamine, and possibly vitamin b12 injections as well. Mary Ruth Organics is a vitamin company that makes a really good liquid b12 supplement.
I also recommend Esther Gokhale’s primal posture foundation training. It will re train your body how to move. http://www.thegokhalemethod.com Hope this helps. let me also say, congratulations for coming through this!! WOW!!
Helllo Dr.Northrup! I would like to hear your advice my name is Christine I am 54 years old
I am living with MS since 2002 The last two years I have problem with psoas muscles. I do a lot of physical therapy but it doesn’t work My psoas muscle is still weak I would like to ask you if there is electrical stimulation about that There is t is something can I do for Thank you in advance ❤️
How were you diagnosed?
Dear Dr. Northrup,
do you have some ideas, impulses or maybe you can reccommend s.th. to des autoimmun problem systemic scleroderma with organ involvement?
A friend is suffering a lot and it seems, that there is no expert in Germany who can help.
Thanks in advance
I would recommend the work of Anthony William. Check out his book The Medical Medium. The diet and supplement recommendations there may well help.
Hi, I’m Neela Lazarus from South Africa. Greetings!
I am a stroke survivor for just over 12 years. Was totally paralyzed on my right side. But by God’s grace I recovered. I still have limitations though.
I have no co-ordination and no range of motion on my right side. Cannot drive
I strongly feel that if I do exercises to strengthen to strengthen my psoas muscles, it would improve my health.
Can you recommend exercises? I would be most grateful.
Go to the you tube channel of Esther Gokhale’s Foundation training. http://www.thegokhalemethod.com Esther has many examples of how to move which may well help. Also the work of Joe Dispenza– check out his you tube channel for meditations on how to use the mind to transform the body. I wish you strength and courage.
I think it was mentioned above, but TRE helps with the psoas muscle. It involves the psoas muscle being activated which results in tremors which is a natural way in the animal kingdom to bring our bodies back to balance. It releases pain and trauma in the body. I went to a workshop this weekend. I would advise to do it with a qualified person at first as it can bring up blocked feelings and feel a little scary and uncomfortable. They can support you. I have heard so many positive stories from TRE.
This is a great article. I’ve had psoas issues since I was a college athlete. Put ever since I gave birth and have had lingering postpartum issues, it’s become even more clear that I need to take care of my psoas. I see a pelvic physical therapist who is well-versed in the importance of this muscle group and how to care for it. She showed me how to gentle stretch and release my super tight psoas. It’s amazing how little attention this important area of our body gets. Thanks Dr. Northrup!
I love hearing this! thank you.
Thanks for this article. I’m a web designer and work many hours per day at my computer. I’m also a long-distance runner and run about 6 miles, 2x per week. I have chronic psoas trouble: a very tight and sore psoas on the left side. I am definitely going to resume my yoga practice and focus on the postures that loosen and stretch the psoas (see YogaInternational.com) My partner is a massage therapist, so I’ll get her help for some deep work on the psoas. I am also going to take a break from sitting at the computer every hour, walk and or stretch – I installed a timer app today to help me keep track. I have also been suffering from urinary issues at night, and this article confirmed my suspicion: https://corewalking.com/the-psoas-and-the-bladder-again
“A tight psoas muscle can cause your pelvis to rotate forward. This, in turn, can cause 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…”
I believe the first part is correct, but the rest is almost the opposite. Psoas is causes flexion in EXTERNAL rotation of the femur. A tight psoas would hike up the left pelvis (causing the affected leg to be shorter). The affected pelvis will rotate toward the midline (eg: a tight left psoas would cause the pelvis to rotate to the right).
Love this article about psoas muscle.
I didn’t read all the comments, but if no one mentioned it, Dr. Berceli’s Trauma Releasing Exercises are fantastic for relaxing psoas muscle. Helps release stress and bottle up emotions, too.
Thank you, AnneLaurie! I hadn’t heard about TRE before.
I tried it, it was easy enough to find some basic instructions. After one time of doing it, it corrected something in my pelvis area, which essentially has removed the back pains and headaches I’ve been having for a year or two almost every day. Three days now since I did it and still feeling like wow.
hi tomas , how you to do that.. i also have a psoas problem and i know perhaps tre can help, but after i try the manual book its hard to me to follow the instruction
I have pain in my psoas region and lower back for 1 year, it came suddendly after a fear episode (turbulent flight) and it didn’t go away since then. I did 5 ultrasound and 3 MRI which were all negative, the doctor believes is a trap nerve and gave me lyrica/pregabalin which causes side effects and didn’t help at all. I had a steroid injection and physio but no joy. I was an active person an now I became depressed, anxious and frusteated with this pain and unability to exercise, I do yoga but certain position such pigeon are making things worst. I hope for a better tomorrow!
Hi there – on you tube there is a video that shows you how to stretch your psoas when standing. Go to you tube and search “Standing psoas muscle stretch” – it works! The other thing I did was have deep tissue massage of the buttock opposite the side that is hurt. Not 100% sure why this works – something about it being the opposing muscle. Finally – “Miracle Ball Method” sold on Amazon is a life saver. Good luck!
Thank you for this article + the recommended stretches. I’m a very active, outdoorsy 65 year old male and my Psoas muscle has been very painful on my left side for 2 months now with pains shooting down through my groin as well – specifically, my testicle. Question: Is my psoas muscle somehow connected to my groin as it shoots down my leg…? I want to be able to hike, ski and mtn. bike without worrying that its making the condition worse. Thank you – / M
I have the same problems psoas and groin for a year, I hope you have a better luck than me with the recovery. Best Tom
I am having the same problem. Have you found a doctor or received any other information on your condition? I can’t get my primary doctor to order any sonogram to see what the problem is. Good luck.
Can the psoas muscle start feeling that it is pulling inward in your legs and work its way up to your chest and arms? Then it affects my breathing and I feel like I have to shake it off. I also have been running a temperature on and off constantly for about 4 months?
You may want to consult your primary care doctor to rule out psoas abcess.
My right foot is gradually getting smaller than the left. It is now over a half inch smaller. I read that the psoas could cause this by pulling the muscle and bone up from an imbalance. Is this true and if so, could someone send link info for my research into this problem?
Dr. Northrup has provided the key to unlocking, in my opinion, the cause of ‘non-responsive’ low back, hip, pelvic, and knee problems. Her insight into the true cause, that being an imbalanced psoas, if understood, will enable the patient AND/OR the doctor to properly treat and correct this muscular/skeletal lesion. In my alternative practice, psoas balance has been the guiding factor in establishing stability, strength, balance, and unrestricted motion. A ‘tight’ psoas, most often found on the right side – (gas-pedal leg syndrome?) will create a shoulder problem in the swimmer or athlete, due to the latissimus interference, perhaps a TMJ dysfunction or tilted occiput, above the psoas as well as a sciatic from piriformis compensation (on the opposite side) of the tight psoas and knee pain on either side, from the twist to the femur that also results when the psoas shortens. She is also correct in that the tight psoas creates a functionally-short leg on the side of the hypertonic psoas, by rotating the ilium. Anyone who has not responded to ‘traditional’ care needs to be examined for this muscle imbalance. Thank you, Dr. Northrup, this article is excellent and points the way to tremendous clinical success for those who grasp what you have shared here.
Dr. Jeff Prystupa
I was pretty sure my frozen shoulder a few years back was actually caused by my psoas. I’ve only recently discovered this info and your note has made me feel confirmed in my thoughts as I also suffer from jaw clenching, ‘tmj’ don’t like to label it lol
But after relaxing my psoas lying on the floor, with legs elevated and bent at knees to rest calf on couch, each time I stop clenching, breathe freely again and my shoulders and neck free up and movement returns.
It’s just my right psoa that’s painful. I think started from a corn on my right foot, just had it removed. Fingers crossed it’s not another sneaky reason or movement I’m doing….
While the article definitely has a female perspective, the problems that I have that could concern both females and males is a screw from a hip prosthesis protruding into my psoas muscle. My personal experience since having had a hip prosthesis 20 months ago, includes 5 of the 7 ways you listed to tell if you have a psoas muscle imbalance. Chest breathing (not noticed?) and menstrual cramps (impossible as a male) are the only two that I have not experienced to some degree. I recently met with the surgeon who discounted all of my concerns and even went as far as to say that the screw protruding through my hip bone into my lower psoas would have no effect upon the tight muscle spots in my buttocks and aching in my lower back.
Dr. Northrup, what is your experience or opinion with such an issue?
I am still trying to determine exactly what my next step should be in addressing my physical issues.
I found this article extremely informative BUT… I cannot find any other Professional who knows what I am talking about when I mention my PSOAS muscle??? Not even my Orthopaedic Surgeon. I have had surgery on L4/L5. I currently suffer quite severely from breathing problems. I get VERY breathless after I have been upright (walking, standing etc) for a while. It feels like my spine compresses and the muscles involved do not allow me to expand my diaphragm to take in a breath. This can be very upsetting. I do have (and always have had) a slight Scoliosis and I feel this could partly be made worse by a very, or even overtight, psoas muscle on one side? I also have pelvic pain on the same side, which extends to my hip and then knee. My colon seems to have given working completely. I am sorry to bother you with all this, but I find it impossible to get any info? Could the above be caused by Psoas problems?
Hi Anne, sorry to hear you are suffering so much. I’ve had many similar problems for years, but have found a great deal of relief following the exercises on a website called healing through movement. The guy there, Brian, is a qualified fitness trainer and takes you through a range of exercises that release the tight psoas muscles. It’s basically changed my life because I was getting no sleep because of all the internal discomfort at night. Give it a try.
Best of luck, claire
Bowen Therapy would be my recommendation to align your body and address the muscle imbalances. Your therapist should be very familiar with the psoas muscle. If not, find a different one.
I read your comment after reading this entire article by Dr. Northrup. I have the exact problems that you have written about! The Psoas muscles are definitely complicated, and as I have researched this I have found through many articles that the problems involved with these important muscles go un-diagnosed most of the time.
I have a long history of spinal problems that started in 1980. About three months ago I woke up with what I thought was just another episode of lower back pain that radiated to my gluteal muscle to the front of my thigh stopping just above my knee. Long story short, I found a chiropractor (in our new location) that took an X-ray and it showed my spine from a frontal view with a large curve (like the letter C) deviating out of alignment from being straight! This was a first for me. He is very gifted and knowledgable. He told me that my left Psoas muscle had spasmed, during the night, and the Psoas muscle on the other side had pulled my spine out of place. It has been three months of seeing him every week now. He got another X-ray and my spine is still crooked but so very much better. He is going to teach me what exercises to do.
I have trouble catching my breath also. I appreciate Dr. Northrop’s article so very much. I am going to wait for instruction on what exercises to do as I am not sure if my muscle is tight or weakened. Like Claire, I do not sleep well through the night at all. My bowel movements have changed also. You need to find someone that knows what is going on for starters. I was blessed to have found the amazing chiropractor I found.
Look up Beth Spindler on Yoga International…she has a class on this.
Same issues. Find a neurological chiropractor
I would highly recommend finding an Egoscue certified Posture Alignment Specialist to work with. Egoscue understands the importance of the psoas and how to address psoas imbalances and issues and understands the holistic approach to looking at the entire body as a unit. I would also highly recommend getting an Egoscue “Tower” and doing the Supine Groin Progressive in the Tower.
After having a tricuspid valve replaced, my husband who is medically high risk ended up in ICU for a month. I tried to keep up on all his treatments. One thing I am still confused with is the doctors telling me he has a bleeding psoas muscle. My question is how does that happen when he was incompasitated for a month. He still has many of the symptoms you described.
My left leg and hip area hurt. It has some of the symptoms you describe, but my left hip and foot rotate far to outward. (away from my body) There is also a burning sensation in my left hip, and I feel my left lumbar extensors, traps and piraformis to be tight as well. I don’t know what to do, should I stretch, strengthen? Any advice would help.
Thank you for your time.
I’d strongly advise a good PT to stretch you as well as teach you. Works wonders for me.
I’m 13 and I have been doing contortion stretches and I also tumble. One day I did my needle (a straight leg scorpion) and I hurt my back after that. For more than a month my back has been hurt. It’s still not fully better. At a field trip, I hurt my back severely. I had to be in a wheelchair and I couldn’t walk correctly. I went to the chiropractor the next day and got adjusted. After a while I realized that my pelvis was fine, but it was a muscle that I felt the discomfort from, but which muscle? Reading this made me realize it could be my psoas muscle. My mom once mentioned it, however I didn’t think it could be that muscle. I think I just overstretched my psoas leaving it hurt for a while. But, thank you!! This article has been so helpful and amazing.
Thank you for this article. It would be really helpful to have diagrams or you tube for exercises. Thanks
THANK YOU so much for this article! It is not only relevant to myself but to a relative who has been experiencing undetermined pain. It is a subject that I will do further research on.
Dr. Northrup, I had the pleasure of hearing you lecture about 15 years ago in Orlando, Florida at one of the “I can do it” seminars. I could have listened to you talk all day! Thank you for all the work that you do that helps all of us live healthier lives in body, mind, and spirit.
HI Tonja– thanks so very much for this response. I so appreciate it.
I very much appreciate having received this information on the psoas muscle. I was diagnosed with chronic sciatica after years of increasing pain and decreasing ability to stand for any length of time, walk, especially on uneven ground, and especially climb stairs/ladders. I “was” an interior/exterior painter/decorator. I have seen numerous doctors, & chiro-practitioners, who had taken ex-rays of my hips & spine but were confused as to what was going on because I was still very flexible. I “was” also a yoga/meditation practitioner.
A month ago sitting in a restaurant, the place mat had business advertisements on it & one in particular caught my eye. It was about The Webster Technique practiced at a local chiropractic office. It described the treatment for the psoas muscle & the many symptoms that I have experienced since my birthing years. When I got home I researched it further. At my next visit I asked my chiro-practitioner about the technique. I was told that’s just for pregnant women… you have chronic sciatica. The voice inside me kept saying no! I’m glad I didn’t give up & give in… my body was trying to tell me and now it has been confirmed to me in this blog. Every symptom revealed from my 20’s to now… I’m 61 years experienced and so grateful to have finally found the truth that can set me free. Thank you Dr. Christiane Northrup
I am so VERY glad that you are trusting yourself with what you know to be true. And I agree with you– chances are VERY good that your problem ( and solution) lies with the psoas muscle. Hope you get it all sorted out. I’m sure you will.
Such a great, thorough piece—can’t wait to share it far and wide!
Thank you so much for posting this. it is exactly what I need.
Hello Dr Northrup,
Just wanted to say Thankyou for your invaluable information. I have neck problems and stenosis L4L5 and walk bent over due to this. Tried some stretches to help lower back pain and started walking a bit straighter. Then deep ache started in right groin down inner thigh, physio identified psoas muscle was “VERY unhappy”advised laying on back, knees bent and with a belt under the knee gently pull it towards your chest, hold 4 secs and then slowly lower back to starting position, this has helped. Cannot stress how much your article helped as I have now developed same problem in left groin. What really resonated with me is the link to your emotional health, stress is definitely linked, and felt reassured that this can be helped.
So glad to hear this. Your comment will help many others. Thank you.
Great information, I’ve heard a lot about psoas lately, I will read the book you suggested.
Three years ago I lost my husband suddenly, I have been carrying so much stress since then, just recently I engaged in some rigorous exercise, I pulled a muscle in my abdomen and then two weeks later I had severe pain in my hips and pelvis. I have been to several appointments with my chiropractor, had two deep tissue massages and am in physical therapy. My massage therapist is the one who pointed out that my psoas muscle could be the culprit. I have been doing water therapy and lots of stretching. I would be interested to see if you could advise any other things that could work or how I know I have released it?
I’ve been working with a Somatics expert for several months now… pretty much all chronic issues are being addressed as long as I keep doing my pandiculations… and using my Grandma’s Salt Bag at night 🙂
Hi, what is “grandma’s salt bag,” I tried looking it up and nothing came up. Trying to heal my back. Thanks!
Hi Dr Northup,
I was trying to do some research on psosas issues .
I had a THR in 2015 and was having issues with the new hip for more than 12 months during this time my bladder slowly started to show signs of incontinence issues mainly in leg movements especially driving a car.
I went for a second opinion with another surgeon only to find the previous surgeon did not perform it correctly and had put over sized parts in my hip which has caused major damage inside my hip.
The psosas tendons have been severed and nerves along with other ones . I cannot lift my leg ,have sereve pain in my thighs cramps when walk to much but the main issues is the bladder .
The urologist cannot find an answer to my bladder dysfunction and was wondering if you can shed some light on this matter as I know it affects the spine in T12 , T 11 which is for the bladder and nerve supply to L1 L 3.
Hope for answers rose
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.
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.
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.
Please look up trochanteric bursitis.
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
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.
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.
Hi Heather …… was it your surgeon who advised you that your psoas muscle was damaged during surgery and that blood supply has been compromised? I had a THR in Dec 2017 and tore my psoas doing an exercise which was too advanced at my stage of recovery. I am experiencing similiar issues to you and my surgeon has suggested a minor surgery to release and lengthen the muscle which is in spasm. We are waiting the full 12 weeks post surgery to assess. I was not in any pain or restriction prior to my injury so I am sure my issue is related to that injury, however, I understand that an impinged psoas can be a consequence of a THR and can be rectified by having a surgical release. Sometimes, too, the hardware used can be too big and the psoas can rub against it, causing pain. Something to research and discuss with your surgeon. Wishing you all the best.
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.
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.
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.
This is something I was looking for since many years, but had no idea what I need to know.
Really awesome and worthy article.
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.
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
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
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!
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…
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 .
I agree with Max that TRE might be helpful. I would also highly recommend doing the Egoscue exercise called the Supine Groin Progressive in the Tower. It will release your psoas tension and restore balance to your hips/pelvis.
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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 .
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
Try reflexology, as there is a reflex for the psoas muscle.
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.email@example.com thanks and good luck to you!
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.
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
Can I ask, if this muscle is tight can it cause a feeling of shaking internally and weakness in that area?
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?
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.
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 ?
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.
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.
I am honored by this comment. And you are so right about chiropractic care when it’s done consciously!! Thank you. Christiane
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.
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.
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.
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!
This is wonderful. I love it all. Would you mind if I use this for my yoga teacher training?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
Is strengthening the psoas muscle the key to reversing pelvic prolapse?
Yes. This is great information and the right time to hear it. I’m going to go stretch now.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
I left a long message , but it dissappeared.
Hate it when that happens. so sorry!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 🙂
Thank you for this, have tried it several times for two days and it has alreafy made a difference.
Should you do the slow lift only on one leg or each leg? Thanks, Leslie
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 !
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. 🙂
Oh bless you!
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
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
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.
Love Divine timing, right? thank you
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.
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.
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!
Celebrating with you!!! yay!!!
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.
I really appreciate the info! Thank you for helping to keep us healthy!
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.
Great content. The Psoas muscle was completely new to me. Thank you for the anatomy lesson showing us our deficiency as well as solutions.
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
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.
Add some Divine Love to the mix too. Check out http://www.worldserviceinstitute.org And thank you!
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?
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
Love your blog’s!
Thank you, Dr. Northrop. You are always keeping us in your thoughts and heart. We appreciate your efforts and life’s work. Patty
I’ve never heard about the Psoas muscle before and its effect on the rest of the body. Thanks for putting this information out.
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.
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.
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 !
beautiful work. And I am SO SORRY this happened to you. So very sorry.
Wonderfully informative! Thank you deeply.
Very helpful . Thank you so much.