Updated: Feb 25, 2019
Laura is here to help us clear the air about the mysterious psoas muscle. You have questions about the psoas muscle and we have an expert's answers:
Question 1: A lot of online resources mention how the psoas may either be torn or too tight when someone is experiencing discomfort. There are not many resources on deciphering which one it is. How can you tell if your psoas muscle is torn vs too tight?
Muscle Tear: Most often when the psoas muscle is torn, there is going to be pain involved when you stretch or concentrically contract the muscle. So, if you were going to flex your hip for example (as the psoas is a hip flexor) there would be pain.
Tight Muscle: When a muscle is too tight, there is generally no pain, but there may be a limited range of motion. The psoas is a hip flexor, and therefore, when it is shortened or tight, the individual will have limited hip extension because the psoas cannot be stretched to allow for adequate hip extension. There will not be pain when the muscle is stretched, rather a big stretch may be uncomfortable.
Discomfort and pain are different and most people should be able to tell the difference if something is painful versus just uncomfortable when a muscle is stretched too far.
As a PT, it is extremely common to see tight psoas muscles. It is rare to see someone with a loose psoas as most of our days are spent seated which shorten the muscle.
Question 2 : What resources do you recommend for learning where the psoas muscle is.
As a physical therapist, I would recommend some of the anatomy books I use.
Here are a few:
Question 3: What is your personal/professional opinion on the best stretch for a torn psoas muscle and for a tight psoas muscle?
These are the stretches I recommend for patients who have a tight psoas muscle: