Is Your Psoas Causing Your Lower Back Pain?

This is an article by Anne Keiley. I offer it with the author’s permission for informational purposes. The author and I have no financial involvement.


Photo by Sam Burriss on Unsplash

Is Your Psoas Causing Your Lower Back Pain?

A lot of us sit in the office at desk jobs and don’t think about our posture. Long days spent sitting in front of the screen will slowly but surely take a toll on our lower back, especially if we aren’t educated on good and bad posture.

There are a lot of culprits for lower back pain and working at an office job is only one of them. Once you’ve developed a chronic issue, it can be hard to diagnose precisely where it’s coming from. While you know it’s your lower back, you might not know where to start when diagnosing the source.

The Psoas muscle is a common cause of a lot of back pain. Especially in the working class, the Psoas can be linked to a lot of lower back issues. Let’s take a look at what the Psoas muscle is and why it might be causing your lower back pain.

What is the Psoas Muscle?

The Psoas muscle is arguably one of the most important muscles in your body. Christiane Northrup explains that the psoas muscles are located in your lower back and are the deepest muscles found in your core.

They are attached from your 12th vertebrae to your five lumbar vertebrae, intersect your pelvis and end up finally connected to the uppermost part of your femurs. The reason why they are so crucial to your body and its normal everyday function is that they are the sole muscles attaching your legs to your lower spine.

The primary purpose of the Psoas muscles is to help you walk. They are especially important for flexibility – they help you to bring your knees and hips up in the direction of your chest. When you’re climbing stairs or a steep hill, the Psoas muscles are doing all the work.

What Does the Psoas Muscle Do?

Let’s take a more in-depth look at what the Psoas muscles do. While their main purpose is to help you walk, they also have other functions as well.

According to LiveStrong, the Psoas muscle is responsible for all three phases of muscle movement. Each muscle has three phases of action: concentric, eccentric and isometric. The first being concentric is when you initially flex a muscle, while the second – eccentric – is stretching it out to full capacity. The third – isometric – is holding this position and using this muscle to its full ability.

The Psoas muscles are capable of all three of these movements when it comes to the other muscles in your legs. You wouldn’t be able to perform these three phases of motion in your legs if you didn’t have the Psoas muscles supporting them in your lower back.

How Can This Muscle Cause Back Pain?

Because this muscle is in charge of so many critical bodily reflexes and actions if it is weakened in any way it’s going to affect a lot of what else is going on. According to Dr. Axe, a weak Psoas can cause even the most minimal effort jobs become challenging to do. The Psoas muscle can weaken as a result of being unused – like if you are sitting in an office chair all day.

If the Psoas muscle isn’t giving your body the support it needs, it will compensate in other ways and apply pressure to different muscles, potentially causing injury and pain. Quite often this pain can manifest in the hip area and put unexpected strain on this area. This can lead to other symptoms and issues.

How to Treat Pain Caused by Your Psoas

Some simple home remedies can make your Psoas muscles come right, without the interference of medication.

Performance Bodywork suggests stretching as an efficient way to get some relief. One stretch, in particular, is the basic hip flexor stretch. Lower your body into a lunge and try to get your knee as close to the ground as possible. Hold this pose for 20-30 seconds, and repeat 2-3 times before alternating legs and doing the same on the other side. Doing this exercise 2-3 times a day will help relief pain and chronic discomfort caused by the Psoas muscles.

The Somatic Movement Centre recommends pandiculation as a form of relief. Pandiculation is our natural stretches that we perform when we wake up, like yawning and stretching our arms up. This helps to awaken the nervous system and ensures our muscles are nice and relaxed. If there is any contraction of the muscles, this can help to release it.

Anne Keiley
Article by Anne Keiley from Free Your Spine

Anne has suffered with back pain for many years, and in 2014 she added to that when she was diagnosed with multiple cervical herniated discs. Anne has managed to navigate a path through her chronic pain using natural medicine and techniques. She believes in finding and dealing with the root cause of pain wherever possible.


  1. Bob Schubring on January 23, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    Muscles respond to the challenge of exercise, by performing maintenance functions on themselves during rest. One has to consume a healthful diet and allow oneself rest, to get the benefit of exercise.

    In our culture we view stimulant drugs as harmless, and that’s a problem. When one develops a painful overworked muscle, consuming a stimulant can bring temporary relief. Over-the-counter remedies that mix aspirin with caffeine can provide temporary relief of muscle pain, including the common muscle-tension headache and backache. If one does not allow oneself to rest and regenerate that muscle, continued stimulant use will not help.

    Last year I had a nasty muscle pull and needed to go on a partial-agonist opioid called Ultram for several days. I left the emergency room $300 poorer, and while filing the prescription, started re-thinking just how I happened to hurt myself. I remembered bending to lift some fallen logs and debris in the yard, cleaning up after an April windstorm, but I didn’t recall the exact moment that the injured muscle began to hurt. If I can do that to myself and not notice, I thought, that’s dangerous. So I tried something contrary to my cultural conditioning: I quit taking anything that had caffeine in it.

    As the caffeine burned out of my system, the muscle ache became more noticeable. I used the prescribed muscle relaxant and the Ultram, and experimented with stretching exercises to extend the sore muscle as much as I could. I got to see my physician and we decided to put me on something for anxiety. And to stay away from the caffeine. I get occasional muscle tightness in my lower back, but nothing nearly as bad as what I had. I still don’t remember the details of how I hurt myself last year, but if too much caffeine enabled me not to notice harming myself, then that was clearly too much caffeine!

Leave a Comment