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Understanding the Psoas Muscle: Trigger Points, Back Pain, and NeuroKinetic Therapy

The psoas muscle is a crucial yet often overlooked component of our body’s musculoskeletal system. It plays a significant role in our ability to move, stabilize, and function efficiently. However, problems with the psoas muscle, including trigger points, can lead to various issues, notably back pain. This blog post delves into the anatomy of the psoas muscle, its relationship with the spine and back pain, and how NeuroKinetic Therapy (NKT) can be utilized to address problems related to this vital muscle.

Anatomy and Function of the Psoas Muscle:

The psoas muscle, often referred to as the iliopsoas, is composed of two muscles: the psoas major and the iliacus. The psoas major originates from the lumbar vertebrae (T12 to L5) and inserts into the lesser trochanter of the femur. The iliacus originates from the iliac fossa of the pelvis and also inserts into the lesser trochanter. Together, they form the iliopsoas, a key muscle for hip flexion.

The primary functions of the psoas muscle include:

- **Hip Flexion:** The psoas muscle is the most powerful hip flexor, allowing us to lift our legs towards our torso.

- **Trunk Stabilization:** It plays a critical role in stabilizing the spine, especially during movement.

- **Posture Maintenance:** The psoas helps maintain proper posture by stabilizing the lumbar spine and pelvis.

Trigger Points in the Psoas Muscle:

Trigger points are hyper-irritable spots within a muscle that can cause pain and discomfort. In the psoas muscle, trigger points can be particularly troublesome due to the muscle’s deep location and its extensive involvement in everyday movements.

**Common Symptoms of Psoas Trigger Points:**

- **Lower Back Pain:** Often felt deep in the lower back, near the spine.

- **Groin Pain:** Discomfort can radiate to the groin area.

- **Hip Pain:** Pain can be felt in the hip, particularly when lifting the leg.

- **Abdominal Pain:** Some people experience abdominal pain due to psoas trigger points.

**Causes of Psoas Trigger Points:**

- **Prolonged Sitting:** Sitting for extended periods can shorten the psoas muscle, leading to trigger points.

- **Stress and Tension:** Emotional stress can cause the psoas to tighten.

- **Repetitive Movements:** Activities like running, cycling, or certain sports can overwork the psoas, leading to trigger points.

Relationship with the Spine and Back Pain

The psoas muscle’s attachment to the lumbar vertebrae means it has a direct influence on the spine’s alignment and function. Dysfunction in the psoas muscle can lead to several spinal issues, contributing significantly to back pain.

**How Psoas Dysfunction Causes Back Pain:**

- **Lumbar Lordosis:** A tight psoas muscle can pull the lumbar spine forward, increasing the lumbar curve (lordosis) and causing lower back pain.

- **Spinal Compression:** The psoas can compress the lumbar discs and nerves, leading to pain and discomfort.

- **Pelvic Tilt:** A tight or weak psoas can alter the position of the pelvis, resulting in an anterior or posterior tilt. This misalignment affects the entire spine’s mechanics, leading to back pain.

NeuroKinetic Therapy (NKT) and the Psoas Muscle

NeuroKinetic Therapy (NKT) is a sophisticated bodywork modality that utilizes muscle testing to identify and correct dysfunctional movement patterns stored in the brain’s motor control center. It addresses the root cause of pain and dysfunction by targeting compensatory muscle patterns.

**Applying NKT to the Psoas Muscle:**

1. **Assessment:** The practitioner uses manual muscle testing to assess the strength and function of the psoas muscle. This involves testing the muscle's response to resistance and identifying any weaknesses or imbalances.

2. **Identifying Compensations:** NKT practitioners look for muscles that are compensating for a dysfunctional psoas. Common compensatory muscles include the rectus femoris, adductors, and lower back muscles.

3. **Release Techniques:** If trigger points or tightness are found in the psoas, various release techniques such as myofascial release, massage, or stretching are employed to relax the muscle.

4. **Reprogramming the Motor Control Center:** Through specific exercises and movements, the practitioner reprograms the motor control center to establish correct movement patterns. This helps in restoring proper function to the psoas muscle and eliminating compensations.

5. **Strengthening:** Finally, the psoas and other stabilizing muscles are strengthened through targeted exercises to ensure long-term stability and function.

Benefits of NKT for Psoas-Related Issues

- **Targeted Approach:** NKT provides a highly specific method of identifying the exact source of dysfunction, leading to more effective treatment.

- **Holistic Treatment:** By addressing the entire kinetic chain, NKT ensures that all related muscle imbalances are corrected.

- **Long-Term Relief:** Reprogramming the motor control center helps in achieving lasting results by preventing the recurrence of dysfunctional patterns.

Self-Care Tips for a Healthy Psoas

While professional treatment like NKT is highly effective, incorporating self-care practices can help maintain a healthy psoas muscle.

1. **Stretching:** Regularly stretching the psoas muscle can help in maintaining its flexibility. Yoga poses like the lunge or pigeon pose are beneficial.

2. **Strengthening Exercises:** Exercises like leg raises and core strengthening can support the psoas and prevent imbalances.

3. **Mindful Movement:** Being mindful of posture and movement patterns can reduce unnecessary strain on the psoas.

4. **Stress Management:** Practices like meditation, deep breathing, and relaxation techniques can help in reducing emotional tension that affects the psoas.


The psoas muscle is integral to our movement, stability, and overall well-being. Understanding its role, recognizing the symptoms of trigger points, and knowing the relationship between the psoas and back pain can help in addressing issues more effectively. NeuroKinetic Therapy offers a precise and comprehensive approach to treating psoas-related dysfunction, ensuring both immediate relief and long-term health. By combining professional treatment with mindful self-care practices, one can maintain a healthy and functional psoas muscle, leading to a pain-free and active life.

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