Everything You Need to Know About the Iliopsoas

The iliopsoas muscles are located at the base of your digestive tract (the small intestine). They control the movements of food through the intestines and act as a “gatekeeper” between your stomach and large bowel. When you eat, these muscles contract to force food down into your stomach where it is broken down and digested before being absorbed back up again.

What Is The Iliopsoas Muscle?

The iliopsoas muscle is made up of two muscles: the external oblique (external) and internal oblique (internal). These muscles attach to the sides of your abdomen near your belly button. Both muscles originate from the same pelvic bone called the ilium. The external obliques attach to your lower ribs while the internal obliques attach to your upper ribcage.

When you bend over or sit down, the external obliques pull your rectus abdominis (abdominal fat) upwards. When you stand up straighten out your spine and relax the muscles of your abdominal wall.

Your rectus abdominis pulls your internal obliques downwards which then pulls the psoas muscle (a long, thin muscle that runs along both sides of your hip bones) upwards to keep them from moving too far forward.

What Does The Iliopsoas Do?

The iliopsoas muscles keep your pelvis stable when you walk or run, and make sure that your legs move in the correct manner. Specifically, they move at an angle and pull your legs back when you walk or run forwards. In addition to walking and running, iliopsoas muscles are important for other types of movement such as twisting or jumping.

Improving the strength of iliopsoas muscles can prevent back pain and improve your posture. For example, if these muscles are weak, you might begin to slouch or lean forwards when sitting for long periods of time.

Iliopsoas Pain & Treatment

Pain in the iliopsoas is quite common and is also known as hip pointer or “side burner”. This is a common injury among runners, football players and other athletes who make sudden stops or start suddenly forward.

Over stretching iliopsoas can also cause pain, especially when you are first starting to exercise after a long break.

Other common iliopsoas pain causes include sitting in tense and unnatural positions for long periods of time (such as when you sit at a desk and stare at a computer screen all day) and twisting or stretching while your body is out of balance. In these cases, muscle spasms in the iliopsoas can cause pain on the front of your hip or side of your stomach.

Iliopsoas pain is generally treated with rest, gentle stretching and anti-inflammatory medication. More severe cases may require physical therapy.

There are also a number of exercises you can do at home to strengthen iliopsoas muscles, including leg lifts in a lying position, standing forward bends and pelvic tilts.

Take care of iliopsoas muscles and they will take care of you!

Sources & references used in this article:

Cross-sectional analysis of the iliopsoas tendon and its relationship to the acetabular labrum: an anatomic study by JM Alpert, M Kozanek, G Li, BT Kelly… – The American journal …, 2009 – journals.sagepub.com

Anatomic variance of the iliopsoas tendon by MJ Philippon, BM Devitt, KJ Campbell… – … American Journal of …, 2014 – journals.sagepub.com

Massive heterotopic ossification complicating iliopsoas tendon lengthening: a case report by PC McCulloch… – The American journal of …, 2006 – journals.sagepub.com

Cross-sectional analysis of iliopsoas muscle-tendon units at the sites of arthroscopic tenotomies: an anatomic study by JR Blomberg, BS Zellner… – The American journal of …, 2011 – journals.sagepub.com

The functional and structural outcomes of arthroscopic iliopsoas release by JB Brandenburg, AL Kapron, JD Wylie… – … American journal of …, 2016 – journals.sagepub.com

Iliopsoas syndrome in dancers by C Laible, D Swanson, G Garofolo… – Orthopaedic journal of …, 2013 – journals.sagepub.com

Results of arthroscopic iliopsoas tendon release in competitive and recreational athletes by SA Anderson, JS Keene – The American journal of sports …, 2008 – journals.sagepub.com

Spontaneous iliopsoas tendon tear: a rare cause of hip pain in the elderly by M Rubio, M Rodriguez, S Patnaik… – … orthopaedic surgery & …, 2016 – journals.sagepub.com