The psoas is a large, powerful muscle that runs from the lower back to the femur (thigh bone). It is common for the psoas muscle to be tense, but simple stretches can relieve tension.

The psoas muscle supports the spine and helps pull a person’s leg toward their body when walking or running. If a person sits for long periods or does not stretch properly, the muscle can become tight and cause pain in the lower back, hips and legs. Yoga poses, kneeling stretches, and standing stretches are all effective ways to stretch the psoas muscle and relieve tension. Read on to learn more about psoas stretches, yoga poses, preventing psoas pain, and more.

Psoas stretches

The following stretches can help relax the psoas muscle:

Lunge stretches: Begin in a lunge position with the front knee above the ankle and the back leg in line with the hips. Place the back knee on the floor and focus on opening the chest, leaning back slightly. The person should feel a stretch in the front hip.

Table Stretch: Begin by lying on your back on a stable table or bench and dangling one leg over the edge. The weight of the leg stretches the psoas. If the person doesn’t feel a stretch, try bringing one knee in toward the chest.

Frog Stretch: Kneel on the floor and gently lean forward, pressing your weight into your forearms. Point the toes to the sides.

Standing pelvic tilt: Stand straight with your shoulders back and your chest pointing up. Push the pelvis back and down. Hold this position for several seconds and release it.

Floor Bridge: Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and your knees bent. Gently work your core and glutes to lift your pelvis. Hold the position, lower it and repeat.

psoas yoga poses

Several yoga poses can help lengthen and relax the psoas muscle, including:

Boat pose: Sit with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Work your core and lean back, keeping your back straight, and lift your feet off the ground. Straighten the legs to form a V with the spine. Stretch your arms forward while keeping your spine straight. If this is too difficult, keep your feet on the ground.

Pyramid Pose: This deep forward bend begins in a standing position. Step forward one foot and cross your arms behind your back. Rock the hips and bend the upper body towards the front thigh.
A person performing the tree pose.

Tree Pose: While standing, shift your weight onto one foot. Bring the sole of the other foot to the inside of the standing thigh. Extend your arms above your head or bring your palms together at chest level.

What causes psoas pain and tightness?

Psoas pain can be very uncomfortable and restrict movement. If a person spends a lot of time sitting, the psoas can shorten and contract. It can also shorten if a person sleeps on their side. Also, the psoas can contract due to overuse and excessive or strenuous exercise. A condition called psoas syndrome can develop if the muscle is injured. This often happens to athletes such as runners, dancers, and high jumpers.

Prevent psoas pain

There are several things a person can do to prevent psoas pain and tightness, including:

stretch regularly
avoiding sitting for long periods of time
exercise regularly
maintain the muscles of the hips, buttocks and lower back
warm up thoroughly before exercise
rest and recover after strenuous physical activity

When to contact a doctor

If a person experiences lower back pain, they should see a doctor. In addition to psoas problems, several other conditions can cause lower back pain, and some of them require medical treatment. For example, a person may have a herniated disc, hip arthritis, or iliopsoas bursitis, which is inflammation of the bursa located in the hip joint. If left untreated, these conditions can lead to complications. In rare cases, a person may also develop a collection of pus that forms in the psoas muscle. Although very rare, it is a possible complication that underscores the importance of prompt medical attention in the event of lower back pain.


The psoas is a large muscle that connects the lower spine to the leg. It is responsible for the movement and stabilizing functions of the hip and pelvis. Psoas pain can occur if the muscle becomes shortened or tight due to inactivity or other health issues, leading to lower back and leg pain. However, stretches and yoga poses can help lengthen and relax the muscle. Regular exercise, stretching, and proper warm-up techniques can also prevent future psoas pain. If a person has lower back pain, they should contact a doctor to rule out other causes of their symptoms.

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