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Iliopsoas Muscles: Low Back, Abdomen, Groin, Pelvic, Upper Leg Pain

Pain patterns of the psoas major muscle, psoas minor muscle and Iliacus muscles.

Pain in the lower back, pelvic and groin area can indicate iliopsoas muscles dysfunction.

Iliopsoas Muscle

You use the iliopsoas muscle group when you lift the thigh, side bend the trunk and straighten the spine.

  •  Low back pain
  • Abdomen pain
  • Groin pain
  • Leg pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Difficulty standing from a sitting position
  • Severe pain or inability to do sit-ups or crunches
  • Tendency to walk with feet turned out
  • Extreme dysfunction in the iliopsoas can cause pain under the shoulder blade that extends down to the top of the hip.

Where are the Iliopsoas muscles?

The Iliopsoas is comprised of three muscles the iliacus, psoas major, and psoas minor. The psoas major and minor attaches to the lower back vertebrae come down to the inside of the hip bone to join with the iliacus which lines the inside of the hip bone. The 3 joined muscles then run through the pelvis to connect with the upper leg.

What movements do the iliopsoas muscles control?

  • Bending over (flexes the spine)
  • Picks up the thigh (when you bend and raise your thigh toward your stomach)

Activities that cause iliopsoas pain and symptoms:

  • Sitting for long periods of time
  • Sleeping on your side in the fetal position
  • Being overweight
  • Strenuous running
  • Climbing stairs
  • Sit ups, crunches and leg ups
  • Slumping posture

Interesting facts about the iliopsoas muscles:

  • The iliopsoas is an important postural muscle and plays a major role in human’s upright stature
  • In approximately 40% of individuals, the psoas minor is absent
  • If only one side is affected pain runs up and down the back, hip, and upper leg. If both iliopsoas muscles are affected pain runs horizontally across the low back, pelvis, and lower abdomen.
  • The psoas major is the strongest hip flexor (bends the hip)

Clinical diagnoses to which the iliopsoas muscles symptoms may contribute:

  • Quadratus lumborum syndrome
  • Appendicitis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Sciatica
  • Stenosis
  • Trochanteric bursitis
  • Sprain / Strain of the low back
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Kidney Stones
  • Kidney infection
  • Bladder Infection
  • Endometriosis
  • Ovarian Cysts
  • Painful menstruation
  • Prolapsed uterus
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Bladder Disease or Infection
  • Inguinal Hernia
  • Surgical Adhesion
  • L1 L2 L3 L4 or L5 radiculopathy

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the iliopsoas muscle:

Satellite Trigger Points: Quadratus lumborum, Rectus abdominis,  Tensor fascia latae, Gluteus maximus, Gluteus medius, Gluteus minimus, Pectineus, Semimembranosus, Semitendinosus, Biceps femoris, Opposite Iliopsoas muscle group

Associated Organ Systems That May Contribute to Oblique Pain and Symptoms: Genitourinary and Digestive Systems

For detailed anatomy information see: Iliopsoas Anatomy

Help with Iliopsoas Muscle Pain

Warm Therapy Gel For Iliopsoas Muscle Pain and Stiffness

Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel is a pain relieving gel that I use both personally and professionally in my massage therapy practice. Unlike other over the counter heating creams, it provides warmth without burning heat.  Although you cannot directly treat the iliopsoas with a cream, applying Sombra to the back muscles, hips, and the front of the thigh can help reduce pain and tightness caused by the iliopsoas muscle.

Sombra Warm Therapy Gel relieves pain and stiffness in the back caused by the iliopsoas.

Professionals Choice Comfort Fit Low Back Support Provides Relief From Iliopsoas Muscle Pain By Providing Low Back Support and Abdominal Compression

The Pro Choice Back Support  is my go to back brace. This brace has helped me more than any other with low back and low abdominal pain. The lumbar pad provides support without the uncomfortable restriction and poking of metal supports. The band is wide, covering the entire lower back.  It has an adjustable Velcro front closure along with adjustable Velcro side panels which can be tightened or loosened to provide support and compression.  The brace also reflects your body heat back into the muscles, providing warmth to tight sore muscles. For those with recent injuries or flare ups, it is comfortable enough wear all night and will not disrupt your sleep.

The brace is made of closed-cell, limestone-based Neoprene which is extremely durable and resilient. The brace retains it's shape over years of use and does not absorb moisture.  It can be machined washed on the gentle cycle.

I have recommended this brace to many clients and friends with chronic low back pain and everyone has commented how much it helps relieve their pain and helps with mobility. As with other back braces, it may not help much with sciatica pain, but it can provide additional support and warmth to low back muscles which may bring some relief. But if you have muscle, tendon or ligament injuries, new or old, I highly recommend that you try this brace!

Sizing: Small and Medium fits waists 22" - 38". Large fits waists 24" - 40". X-large fits waists 41" - 50. XX-large fits waists 51" - 60".

Compression Shorts For Iliopsoas Injury and Pain


Compression shorts can help with pain caused by the iliopsoas muscle by providing support and warmth to the muscles. The shorts are especially effective for pain in the hip, groin, and upper thigh due to injury or dysfunction of the iliopsoas muscles.

Compression shorts are often recommended by doctors, physical therapists and athletic trainers for injury recovery of hip, hamstring, quadriceps, and groin pulls. The shorts are also believed to help prevent many soft tissue and muscle injuries.


I recommend shorts from Nike,  Tommie Copper or CompressionZ.  I own shorts from these three brands and will attest to their comfortable fit, support, and durability.

If you are considering buying compression shorts, I cannot stress enough the importance of quality. Though it is tempting to buy a cheaper brand, I recommend staying with reputable brands and shorts that have high user reviews. Many of the cheaper brands do not have even compression and tend to lose their shape and compression after a few wearings.

Self Treatment For Low Back Pain and Low Abdominal Pain Caused By The Iliopsoas Muscle Group

If you are interested in treating back pain caused by trigger points I  recommend you purchase Claire Davies  The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Mr. Davies explains the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language.  But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled. His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain,  how to find the trigger point and treat it. If you suffer from unresolved back, hip, buttock, and leg pain I highly recommend this book. It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body. Relieving trigger points in the iliopsoas muscle have helped many people reduce or even resolve their low back, groin, and pelvic pain issues. This book is a must have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.

**If you purchase the book, the muscle treatments are listed separately. Look for the iliacus muscle and the psoas muscle in the Quick Muscle Index in the back of the book.** 
The Trigger Point Workbook can help you resolve muscle pain throughout your body.

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