Psoas and how it could be linked to your lower back pain and how to test yours.

Psoas and how it could be linked to your lower back pain and how to test yours.

Psoas from Sarah-Jane Walls on Vimeo.

So what exactly is the Psoas? It’s basically a muscle that wraps around your pelvis from your lower back forward to to the lower part of the pelvis in the inner thigh.

The Psoas is pretty important to every day activity. Walking, bending over, running, going up stairs, sit-ups etc, these are just some of the movements your Psoas is involved in.

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What’s the deal with how muscles work?

So here’s the deal; no muscle in our bodies work independently. Muscles work together synergistically to get you moving, to help you in maintaining good posture, and to keep our joints stable. So you have muscles that are the main movers (AKA agonists), and you also have the ones that give them a helping hand. You have muscles that resist movement (antagonist)

The muscles that give it a hand are called (synergists) that’s just a word for saying they are helpers. They include the pectinous, tensor faciae latae, adductor braves, and the sartorius. You have a few more helpers in there also including the adductor longus, adductor magnus, gracilis, quadratic lumborium (QL). Then you have the resisters to the movement (AKA antagonist) these include the gluteus maximus and the back of the adductor magnus (AKA posterior)

So if all these muscles are involved in some way with the movement of the psoas, is stands to reason they need to all be strong, flexible and well balanced. If any of these muscles are out in anyway – it will compromise the kinetic-chain.

What is Kinetic-Chain and why should I care?

“Kinetic-chain just means joints and segments have an effect on one another during movement — when one is in motion, it creates a chain of events that affects the movement of neighboring joints and segments.”

So why is the psoas so important?

well… If your psoas is tight or weak, it will have a massive effect on functional daily movement and is very much a contributor to pain, postural problems, imbalances and balance.

So how do we know if we have a healthy psoas, and what do we do to get/keep it healthy?

So first things first, we can’t just go right into stretching or strengthening. We need to know what’s tight and what’s weak before we just go running in there.

First test is to test the flexibility of the psoas.

On your back on a flat surface (not a bed) spine straight and legs extended out straight with feet hip-width. Back relaxed allowing it to just curve as it naturally would.
With your hands slowly bring the knee towards your chest until you feel your back sink into the floor.

Psoas Flexibility Test


Pay attention to the leg that’s extended out on the floor. The move will make your pelvis tilt just a little, but if your psoas is healthy in flexibility terms, it won’t lift up the upper thigh or force your knee to bend. If this does happen either or or both, then you need to work on your flexibility of the psoas.

So what does that mean?

So the psoas flexes (bends) the hip. Flexibility and strength are very different, so even if your psoas is tight, that does not mean it is necessarily weak. Testing the strength means flexing your hip for a period of time to see if it gets tired quickly.

Strength Test of Psoas


Stand with your back against the wall, feet hip-width.
Under control lift up one knee towards your chest until the upper part of your leg is parallel with the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. If this is no problem, your psoas and surrounding muscles helping (synergists) are strong.

Look out for more information on how to strengthen and stretch coming soon.


Ellen, P (2015) Psoas Strength and Flexibility. Ulysses Press.
Kendall, F., Mc Creary, E., Provance, P., Romani, W. (2005) Muscles Testing and Function with Posture and Pain. 5th Ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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