The Iliopsoas

The hip muscle no one talks about — why it is important and how to keep it happy.

This information is provided as a recommendation and should not be substituted for good judgement or a consultation with a Medical  Doctor or Physical Therapist. 


The iliopsoas is a muscle group consisting of the iliacus and the psoas muscle. The psoas portion originates from the lumbar spine, your low back. It merges with the iliacus muscle, which originates from the iliac or hip bone, and attaches to the femur. The iliopsoas is the main flexor of the hip joint and also performs external rotation of the thigh. The iliopsoas flexes the torso at the hip joint and the psoas muscle by itself performs lateral flexion of the torso. In a normal standing position, the iliopsoas helps to maintain the normal curve of your back. This muscle works directly opposite of the gluteus maximus and hamstring muscles. In our sedentary lives we do a lot of sitting, which can make the iliopsoas tight. When this muscle becomes tight it can affect the posterior muscles of the hip, which can create issues with your hip and knees. Therefore, it is important to keep this muscle from getting too tight.

Keeping the Iliopsoas happy

How to strengthen this muscle –  In a seated position, brace your core to protect your back, and lift your knees off the chair. Repeat 15 times on each leg, breathing throughout the exercise.  You can also lay on your back, keeping your knee straight, lifting your leg to about 45 degrees. Repeat 15 times. Make sure you stretch afterwards!!

How to stretch this muscle  – To stretch a muscle you must place it in a position opposite of the action it does. So, if the iliopsoas flexes the hip and trunk, we must place the hip in extension and the torso in extension.  There are many ways to achieve this position including kneeling, or
on your back.  We recommend holding each stretch for thirty seconds to one minute. 

If you are needing assistance getting a good stretch for this or other muscles, we would love to help you. Give us a call for a stretching consultation to get you started on the right track!