Iliopsoas Muscle: Trigger Point Pain

The iliopsoas is a term used for 2 muscles located in the lower trunk of the body, the iliacus, and the psoas major. These muscles cause and contribute to pain in the middle and lower back, the hip, buttocks, and thigh. The muscles can also contribute to pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis, and groin.

If you have trigger points in the iliopsoas you may have trouble rising from sitting. There is pain and you may feel a 'hitch' as you straighten to a standing position. Another sign is the tendency to walk with one or both feet turned out which may give you the appearance of waddling like a duck.

Contents Of Article:

Iliopsoas Muscle Referred Pain
Iliopsoas Muscle Referred Pain Pattern
Trigger Points Information

Trigger points are small knots found in the muscle that when pressed increase pain in the area or send referred pain to another area of the body. To learn more about trigger points read Muscle Trigger Points and How They Contribute To Muscle and Joint Pain.

Where are the iliopsoas muscles?

The muscles of the iliopsoas are the iliacus, and the psoas major.

The iliacus muscle lines the inside of the hip bone (ilium). The psoas major attaches to the low back (lumbar) vertebrae and descends down with the iliacus to connect to the top of the thigh bone (femur).

A third muscle the psoas minor is often listed in the iliopsoas group. It attaches to the T12 and L1 vertebrae of the spine and travels down to connect to the pubis (pelvis bone) via the pectineal line.

What movements does it control?

  • Picks up the thigh when you raise your thigh toward your stomach (flexion of the thigh at the hip)
  • Assists in straightening (extension) of the spine.
The Iliopsoas Muscle Group

Iliopsoas Muscles Origin, Action, Insertion

Looking for detailed muscle anatomy? The Iliopsoas Muscles Anatomy Page has origin, insertion, innervation, and blood supply information. It also lists agonists and antagonists for each muscle action.

Iliopsoas Muscles Trigger Points Symptoms:

The iliopsoas is a primary posture muscle that helps the body stand upright. Trigger points in this muscle can cause a wide range of symptoms including pain in the lower abdomen and genitals that are similar to various medical conditions. If there is not a medical condition causing your pain you should check these muscles for trigger points.

The symptoms:

  • Low back pain
  • Abdomen pain
  • Groin pain
  • Thigh pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Difficulty standing from a sitting position
  • Inability or severe pain when doing sit-ups or crunches
  • A 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

Note: If the iliopsoas is affected on one side, the pain runs verticle, up and down the back, hip, and upper leg on the affected side. If both iliopsoas muscles are affected pain runs horizontally across the low back, pelvis, and lower abdomen.


What Causes Trigger Points To Develop?

Sitting too much and a slumping posture can have adverse effects on the iliopsoas muscles. Sitting and habitually slumping can cause the muscles to remain in a shortened and tight state which tugs on the bones of the spine, hip, and thigh causing pain and discomfort.

Frequently climbing or running stairs, running, and abdominal exercises can lead to overuse of the muscles and the development of trigger points. When you feel muscle fatigue setting in it is time to rest or stop.

Other causes: 

  • Sleeping on your side in the fetal position
  • Being overweight
  • Strenuous running

How To Avoid Development of Trigger Points In The Iliopsoas Muscle Group

  • Pay attention when doing targeted abdominal exercises. When you feel fatigued, stop. More is not always better. Don't overdo it!
  • Alternate sitting and standing throughout the day. Consider a standing desk if you sit at a desk for hours a day. Take time to get up and walk around periodically.

TWD Recommends:
If you sit at a desk all day consider investing in a standing desk. Alternating sitting and standing during the day will help eliminate muscle pain.

  • We all have a habit of slumping when we sit. A lumbar support cushion will remind you not to slouch and will support your back which in turn will help with abdominal  and low back pain.

The Vertteo Full Lumbar Black Support is larger than other supports and helps you sit up straight comfortably reducing back and abdominal pain.

  • If you have rounded shoulder posture where your shoulders roll forward or forward head posture where you carry your head with your head and chin jutted forward you may want to consider a posture corrector to help retrain your muscles and remind you to maintain correct posture. Keeping the spine aligned will help psoas pain.

The HailiCare Posture Corrector fully supports the back and abdominal area while gently pulling your shoulders back which helps retrain muscle memory to maintain proper posture. 

  • Sleeping on your side can throw your spine, hips, and legs out of alignment which puts stress on the iliacus and psoas muscles as well as other neck, back, and hip muscles. If it is the only position in which you sleep comfortably the  Moonlight Slumber Full Body Pillow will help keep you in alignment and reduce daily pain and stiffness.
  • Are you a shallow breather? When you inhale does your chest or abs expand to take in air? It should be the abdominals. Practice inhaling deep into the stomach and exhaling slowly until it becomes a habit.
  • If you have abdominal scars from surgery massage is one of the best treatments to treat the restrictions that form in the area of the scar which will affect the psoas muscle. Massage will reduce your pain, tightness, and increase your mobility.

Iliopsoas Muscles Trigger Point Treatment

The muscles of the iliopsoas are tricky to treat and if you are unsure of how to apply treatment you can bruise or damage vital organs in the area. Find a massage therapist, physical therapist, sports therapist, or chiropractor trained in trigger point therapy that can show you how to locate and treat the trigger points.

TWD also recommends getting a copy of The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. The book explains trigger points and provides symptoms and treatment techniques for muscles throughout the body.

TWD Recommends:

The best resource to learn how to treat small painful knots is The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. The authors explain trigger points and their effects in everyday language, not medical speak. I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning to treat their own muscle pain.

Recommended Products

If your pain is due to trigger points in the muscle the only way to reduce and eliminate the pain is to deactivate the trigger points.  However, the recommendations below can help reduce your pain and are nice to have on hand if you suffer from abdominal or back pain or sleep on your side.


Get Relief From Iliopsoas Muscles Pain By Providing Abdominal Support and Compression

The Pro-Choice Back Support is my go-to for abdominal support and 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 to wear all night and will not disrupt your sleep.

I have recommended this brace to many clients and friends with chronic low back pain and all have commented how much it helps relieve their pain and increase mobility. If you have abdominal or back 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 waist 24" - 40". X-large fits waist 41" - 50. XX-large fits waist 51" - 60".

Professional's Choice is well known in equestrian circles for their high-quality horse and rider products. The Professional's Choice Back Brace and Support is the only support TWD recommends for back and abdominal support because it works!

How Long Before I Feel A Reduction In Pain?

Once you learn how to self-treat psoas trigger points, and they are deactivated your pain and stiffness will be greatly reduced possibly eliminated.

Trigger points that are relatively new usually deactivate quickly with a few days of consistent treatment. If they have affected the muscle for months or even years it may take several weeks to fully deactivate. The good news is that you notice a reduction of pain and stiffness after each treatment.

Sombra Warm Therapy Gel is recommended for relaxing muscles and relieving pain. It warms without the burning heat of other gels. An excellent choice for pain caused by iliopsoas trigger points and pain. (Not sold in stores)

Interesting facts:

  • The iliopsoas is an important postural muscle and plays a major role in human’s upright stature
  • In approximately 50% of individuals, the psoas minor is absent
  • The psoas major is the strongest hip flexor (brings your leg up toward your stomach).

Iliopsoas pain and symptoms can be similar to, contribute to, and be affected by these medical diagnoses:

  • Quadratus lumborum syndrome
  • Appendicitis
  • Sciatica
  • Stenosis
  • Trochanteric bursitis
  • 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 Adhesions
  • L1 L2 L3 L4 or L5 radiculopathy

Other muscles that should be considered and examined:

Satellite trigger points associated with the iliopsoas muscles:

Trigger points in the iliopsoas muscle will cause TrPs to develop in other muscles. These are known as satellite trigger points. You will need to check these muscles for additional TrPs.

  • Quadratus lumborum
  • Rectus abdominis
  • Tensor fascia latae
  • Gluteus maximus
  • Gluteus medius
  • Gluteus minimus
  • Pectineus,
  • Opposite Iliopsoas muscle group

Relax While Easing Your Pain and Stiffness

Heated Massage Pad to relieve back pain.
You're tired, your lower back and hips are stiff and hurt. All you want to do is lie down and be able to relax.

The Snailax Vibrating Massage Mat With Heat is made for those times. The mat features a full-body vibrating massage and has multiple settings for massage and heat. The remote allows you to adjust settings with a push of a button. A wonderful way to ease aches and pains in the back, hips, and legs at the end of the day! 69 inches (5' 9") long.

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