5 Essential Iliopsoas Stretches (2023)

The iliopsoas muscle is responsible for flexing and externally rotating the thigh at the hip joint. It also helps flex and stabilize the trunk and assists with good posture. The iliopsoas is a combination of the iliacus, psoas major, and psoas minor muscles, which join together and make up the iliopsoas muscle. This muscle group connects the spine to the femur.

How to Release Tight Psoas Muscles

Benefits of Stretching the Iliopsoas

Tight iliopsoas muscles are a common problem for many people, especially if you spend the majority of your day seated. That’s because when we sit, the iliopsoas muscle shortens and becomes inactive. But it’s not just too much sitting that can cause problems for your iliopsoas muscles.

Regularly stretching the iliopsoas muscle may decrease the risk of injuries, stabilize the trunk, and improve posture. Plus, it can help you move from a seated position to standing. Stretching the iliopsoas muscle may also reduce hip pain and increase hip mobility. And if you have pain in your lower back, working the iliopsoas with appropriate stretches can help decrease this pain and prevent further injury.

Certain sports and activities like soccer, basketball, football, and running or having tight hamstrings and weak glute muscles can cause your iliopsoas muscles to be tight. For some people, tight or short iliopsoas muscles can lead to iliopsoas tendonitis, iliopsoas impingement, or iliopsoas syndrome, all conditions that require intervention to get better.

The good news? Performing moves like the kneeling hip flexor stretch and the glute bridge may help you avoid these more serious conditions and allow you to perform daily tasks with ease.

It’s easy to add a few iliopsoases stretches to your workout or stretching routine—just make sure your body is warmed-up before getting into a stretch.

Introducing the Psoas Muscle

(Video) Stretching Exercises for the Iliopsoas

Safety and Precautions

The iliopsoas stretches detailed below are considered static stretches, which require you to hold a position for a specified amount of time, such as 30 seconds. That’s why they are typically recommended for after workouts, once the muscle group is warm. Since the iliopsoas muscle is involved with the hips and trunk, it’s critical to perform stretches with precise form. Go slow when moving into a stretch, and don’t ever go to the point of discomfort.

To get the most out of your stretching routine, experts recommend performing flexibility exercises for all of the major muscle and tendon groups at least two to three times a week. A good rule of thumb is to hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.

Iliopsoas Stretches

Stretches for the iliopsoas muscles include standing hip flexor stretch, kneeling hip flexor stretch, glute bridge, hip flexor bed stretch, and table psoas stretch. These stretches all help lengthen the iliopsoas muscles. Try all of these, or choose from these to find the right ones to accommodate your abilities.

Standing Hip Flexor Stretch

The standing hip flexor stretch is an excellent option for people who cannot get into a kneeling position. You can control the intensity of the stretch by shortening or lengthening the distance between your front foot and back foot.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
  2. Step your right foot forward into a split or staggered stance.
  3. Engage your core and tuck your pelvis. You can place your hands on the right leg.
  4. Keep your back leg straight and slowly lunge forward with the right leg until you feel a stretch in the front of your hip, groin, and thigh of your left side.
  5. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds. You should not feel any low back pain. If you do, ease off of the stretch.
  6. Slowly return to the starting position and change sides.
  7. Perform the standing hip flexor stretch three times on each side.

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

If kneeling is not an issue, you will find this move allows you to get a deep stretch in your iliopsoas muscle. Like the standing hip flexor stretch, you can control the depth of the stretch by lengthening or shortening your leg stride.

  1. Get into a half-kneeling position with the right leg about two feet in front of the left leg. The right knee should form a 90-degree angle. You may want to use a mat for cushioning.
  2. Place your hands on your right knee, maintain an upright posture, and lean slightly forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your hip, groin, and thigh of your left side.
  3. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds. You should not feel any low back pain. If you do, ease off of the stretch.
  4. Slowly return to the starting position and change sides.
  5. Perform the kneeling hip flexor stretch three times on each side.

Glute Bridge

The bridge allows you to stretch the iliopsoas while also strengthening the glute muscles.

  1. Place a yoga or exercise mat on the floor.
  2. Lie on your back with your arms at your sides, knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  3. Engage your glutes and lift your hips to create a bridge between your shoulders and knees.
  4. Raise your hips until you feel a stretch in the iliopsoas muscle in both legs. If you feel lower back pain, lower your hips slightly, but keep your glutes tight. You may not always feel a stretch so don't keep pushing through back pain.
  5. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds.
  6. Lower your hips to the floor and repeat.
  7. Perform the glute bridge 10 times.

Hip Flexor Bed Stretch

The lying hip flexor bed stretch is often used in physical therapy settings for rehab purposes. Consider this stretch if balance or kneeling is an issue.

  1. Lie flat on your back on your bed and position yourself with your right leg closest to the edge of the bed.
  2. Slowly let your right leg hang down to the side of the bed. Your left leg can stay bent with your foot on the bed. You will feel a stretch in the hip flexor. Ideally, your foot will hover over the ground instead of touching. But it’s okay if it does touch.
  3. Deepen the stretch by gently bending your knee. You should feel this across the thigh and front of the hip.
  4. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Return the right leg to the bed and rotate so your left side is closest to the edge of the bed.
  6. Perform the hip flexor bed stretch three times on each side.

Table Psoas Stretch

For a deep stretch that really opens up the hips, try the table psoas stretch. Skip this move if you have lower back or knee pain.

  1. Find a table that is slightly lower than hip level.
  2. Stand with your right side next to the table and lift your right leg behind you and lay it onto the table with the knee facing down. This leg will be straight. You can place a folded towel under your knee to alleviate any pressure from the table.
  3. Place your right hand on the table in front of you. Your standing (left) leg should be slightly bent.
  4. Slowly move into the stretch by lifting the chest up tall and opening up the hip flexor area. Stop when you feel the stretch in your right hip.
  5. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds.
  6. Release the stretch and repeat on the other side.
  7. Perform the table psoas stretch three times on each side.

6 Easy Hamstring Stretches to Do at Home

(Video) Iliopsoas Tendonitis (Snapping Hip Syndrome) Stretches & Exercises - Ask Doctor Jo

2 Sources

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Bordoni B, Varacallo M. Anatomy, bony pelvis and lower limb, iliopsoas muscle. StatPearls Publishing; 2019.

    (Video) Best psoas muscle trigger point stretch - iliopsoas muscle release - hip flexor stretch

  2. Harvard Health Publishing. The ideal stretching routine. n.d.

5 Essential Iliopsoas Stretches (1)

By Sara Lindberg
Sara Lindberg, M.Ed., is a freelance writer focusing on health, fitness, nutrition, parenting, and mental health.

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What is the best stretch for iliopsoas? ›

Kneel down with your calves flat on the floor and your hands on your hips. Bring the affected leg forward so that this foot is flat on the floor. Gently lean forward, hold the stretch for two seconds, and then shift your weight back again.

How do you loosen the iliopsoas muscle? ›

Ground Bridge with Pelvic Tilt
  1. Lay down on your back with your knees up and arms on the ground.
  2. Lift your pelvic region into the air, tucking it under.
  3. Hold this pose for 5 to 10 seconds.
  4. Lower your pelvis back to the ground.
  5. Repeat as many times as your comfort will allow.
Aug 19, 2014

How do you release psoas instantly? ›

Here's how to properly stretch the Psoas muscle:
  1. Lunge down and keep your back and chest straight.
  2. Squeeze the glute muscles of the leg that's forward.
  3. Tilt your pelvis backward (posterior pelvic tilt)
  4. You'll immediately feel the stretch in your psoas.
  5. Make sure you maintain your back straight at all times.

What causes tight iliopsoas? ›

The psoas can become tight as a result of strain or overuse, resulting in lower back and leg pain. A tight psoas muscle is typically a byproduct of too much sitting or overuse from walking or physical activity such as running, cycling, and even situps.

How do you release iliacus psoas? ›

Release Your Psoas and Iliacus with 4 Simple Yoga Poses
  1. Supported Bridge. Start with quieting your hip flexors with supported bridge pose. ...
  2. Single Knee to Chest with Hips Elevated. Keep the support under your hips and draw the right knee towards the right armpit. ...
  3. Bridge with Heels on a Chair. ...
  4. Legs on a Chair.
Jun 19, 2018

What does a tight iliopsoas feel like? ›

If there is tension in the area these nerves can be compressed as they travel through the muscles. Because of this, a tight psoas can cause seemingly unrelated symptoms including: back pain, leg pain, hip pain, bladder pain, pelvic pain, and digestive issues.

What emotions are stored in the psoas? ›

The psoas is the first muscular responder when you go into the sympathetic state. It contracts in reaction to danger in preparation to either flee or fight. When the danger passes and you feel safe again, you will go back into the parasympathetic state of relaxation and rest – as long as you release the tension.

What helps inflamed psoas? ›

Psoas syndrome is best treated with physical exercises. These are often demonstrated by a doctor or physical therapist in the outpatient office and done at home. These exercises will include active and passive spine, hip joints, and psoas muscles manipulation and stretching.

Can you massage your own psoas? ›

Roll onto the ball, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Stay here, for more pressure open your right knee and lay it on the floor. Then, either lay still or push into your left foot to hover your hips and move your pelvis forward and back and side-to-side. Repeat on the opposite side.

What aggravates the psoas muscle? ›

The psoas tendon can get inflamed from overuse, muscle tightness, and muscle weakness, resulting in a painful hip condition known as psoas tendonitis.

Can a chiropractor release psoas? ›

A Chiropractor may apply pressure in the pelvic inlet area or laterally to the abdominal muscles to help release a tight or overactive psoas. This is commonly done for athletes in addition to stretches, although it should always be done by a soft tissue professional with expertise in psoas release.

What happens if iliopsoas is tight? ›

A tight iliopsoas creates misalignment, causing other muscles to work overtime to compensate. You'll want to apply pressure to these muscles as well (plus, it feels SO good). This is where the Hip Flexor Release ball comes in handy.

Does a tight psoas cause tight hips? ›

Symptoms of psoas tightness can include stiffness at the front of the hip when you stand up or walk, or you may feel tension in the lower back, a “pinching” sensation at the front of the hips with open chain leg movements or squats, or other aches and pains above and below the hip joint.

What is the best sleep position for psoas? ›

If you are able, sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees to place your body in optimum position. Stretching is straight forward enough, but foam rolling/mobilizing with a lacrosse ball can do wonders to release a tight psoas.

Can you massage iliopsoas muscle? ›

The iliopsoas seems to be quite sensitive to pressure — not to mention the tissues overlying it — and the quality of pain is almost always unpleasant. It takes time and caution to do it well and without causing significant discomfort. For many people, it's just too much massage pressure.

What is the best psoas release? ›

Pandiculation: The most effective way to release a tight psoas muscle. The only way to change the resting level of muscle tension being set by the nervous system is through active movement. Pandiculation is a neuromuscular re-education technique developed by Thomas Hanna, the founder of Clinical Somatic Education.

Is walking good for tight psoas? ›

Walking is a more natural type of exercise to strengthen the psoas, because walking does both actions: hip flexion and trunk rotation. Jogging is even better.

What is the difference between psoas and iliopsoas? ›

The iliopsoas muscle is a composite muscle formed from the psoas major muscle, and the iliacus muscle. The psoas major originates along the outer surfaces of the vertebral bodies of T12 and L1–L3 and their associated intervertebral discs. The iliacus originates in the iliac fossa of the pelvis.

Where is grief stored in the body? ›

Emotional information is stored through “packages” in our organs, tissues, skin, and muscles. These “packages” allow the emotional information to stay in our body parts until we can “release” it. Negative emotions in particular have a long-lasting effect on the body.

Why do hip openers make you cry? ›

Stretching the hip muscles causes a release; pent-up emotions may resurface, suppressed memories may arise, unconscious tension still held onto from a traumatic event may bubble up. All of which may unleash a seemingly inexplicable barrage of tears.

What chakra is psoas? ›

Within many Eastern traditions, the psoas is thought to be intimately connected with the sacral chakra, or sea of chi, as it is referred to in Taoist practice.

What triggers psoas pain? ›

Some common causes include: Repetitive jumping — for example, jumping rope and long jump activities. Long, frequent periods of sitting — which cause the muscle to shorten and tense up — followed by physical activity. Complications from surgery.

Will my psoas ever heal? ›

An injury to the psoas muscle can take several weeks to heal. Typical recovery times range between 6 to 8 weeks. Often, people will have physical therapy, take medications, and ice the injury. Doctors recommend limited activity during the recovery period.

What does psoas release feel like? ›

The muscles may release by trembling, vibrating or shaking off the stress that was stored. This is a natural and healthy way of releasing tension in the psoas. This physical release will then be able to be processed by the brain. This may cause fragmented emotions and memories to emerge.

Where do you feel psoas pain? ›

When you have a tight (or short) psoas muscle, you may experience pain in your lower back or in your hips, especially when lifting your legs. This is caused by the muscle compressing the discs in the lumbar region of your back.

How do you manually release the psoas muscle? ›

Since it attaches to the spine, the only way to release it manually is to go DEEP. The pt is supine with knees and hips flexed. Use an even finger grip, both 3rd and 4th fingertips with arms abducted so that your fingertips have even contact.

What type of doctor treats the psoas? ›

After visceral causes of psoas syndrome have been ruled out by means of patient history and physical examination, the osteopathic physician can focus on treatment, keeping the fascia in mind. In addition to treatment directed at the psoas muscle, OMT techniques should also be directed at regions of fascial attachments.

What nerve comes out of psoas? ›

The femoral nerve arises from the lumbar plexus within the psoas major muscle. It is formed from the posterior divisions of the ventral rami of the L2, L3, and L4 spinal nerves.

How do you sit to avoid tight psoas? ›

If you must sit for work or other reasons, sit with good posture and be sure your hips are level or slightly higher than your knees. It's a good idea to put a towel folded lengthwise under your hips when sitting. This tilts the pelvis in a way that lengthens the hamstrings and relaxes the psoas muscles.

How do I loosen my hip flexors and psoas? ›

Half-kneeling psoas stretch
  1. Begin by kneeling on the floor. ...
  2. Place your hands on your hips and, while keeping your back straight, shift your hips forward until you feel a stretch. ...
  3. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
  4. Switch legs and repeat until you feel adequately stretched.

What helps iliopsoas muscle pain? ›

Treatment for iliopsoas bursitis
  1. over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin.
  2. a corticosteroid injection into the bursa to relieve inflammation.
  3. physical therapy to strengthen and stretch hip flexors and muscles.


1. Psoas stretch
(Physical Therapy First)
2. Unsafe Iliopsoas Stretches: These Will NOT Help Your Thigh And Back Pain
(Olivier Girard - the Posture Guy)
3. The Best Iliopsoas Stretch - Active Isolated Stretching
(Adarsh Williams)
4. How to Fix a Tight Psoas Muscle in 30 SECONDS
(SpineCare Decompression and Chiropractic Center)
5. Psoas Stretch: 3 Hip Flexor Stretches & Anatomy
6. Psoas - Top 5 exercises
(Grown and Healthy)


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