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Insoles for Hip Pain & Psoas Muscle Pain

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One of the most important muscles in the body, the psoas plays an essential part in almost every one of our actions and movements throughout the day. This is why psoas muscle pain can inhibit our ability to go about our daily life without discomfort.

We’ll be looking at the causes and symptoms of a tight psoas muscle, along with what can be done to repair and strengthen this most vital of muscles, and recommended products including our orthotic insoles for psoas pain. But let’s start with the basics.

What is the psoas muscle?

Sitting deep within the abdomen, the psoas muscle connects the spine to the legs. It’s the only muscle to do this and runs from the vertebrae through the pelvis and attaches to the thigh bone, the femur. It is usually around 16 inches long.

The psoas is a fusiform muscle, meaning that it is wider and cylindrically shaped in the centre and tapers off at the ends. Due to their overall shape, the force produced by fusiform muscles is concentrated in a small area.

What does the psoas muscle do?

Without a psoas muscle, you would not be able to bend your legs and hips towards your chest. And it helps move the leg forward when running or walking, while playing an important part in strengthening and stabilising the trunk and lower spine, thus aiding good posture.

The psoas muscle also provides support for the internal organs and, by acting as a kind of hydraulic pump, pushes blood and lymph (a colourless fluid containing white blood cells) in and out of the body’s cells.

Diagram showing where the Psoas major and Psoas minor are located in the bodyDiagram showing where the Psoas major and Psoas minor are located in the body

What causes psoas muscle pain and tightness?

While almost anyone can be affected, athletes and runners are particularly prone to psoas muscle pain and tightness, along with those involved in sports and activities which involve repetitive jumping.

Inactivity can also be a cause of psoas pain, and is not uncommon in those who frequently spend most of the day sitting in the same position. 

People with certain musculoskeletal issues may also suffer from psoas muscle pain, including those with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or inflammatory and degenerative arthritis

However, psoas pain is not always down to physical factors, as there’s also a link between the psoas muscle and anxiety.

Due to its close connection with the body’s neurotransmitters, the psoas muscle can tighten significantly if a person is afraid or undergoing mental trauma. So for some people, learning to let go of the tension in their psoas muscle is an emotional process.

What are the symptoms of psoas muscle pain?

To some extent, the precise symptoms vary depending on the severity of the injury, but ​​they most commonly include stiffness or pain in the hip and thigh areas.

This pain can start off intensely sharp, worsening when doing anything involving bending the hip, such as sitting, walking or climbing stairs. It can then become more of a dull ache. 

Pelvic pain and tenderness in the hip or groin is also an accompanying symptom of psoas muscle pain, along with lower back pain, which may radiate down to the knee. These and other symptoms may cause limping while walking.

A weak or injured psoas muscle may mean that surrounding muscles and tendons may have to work harder to compensate, perhaps leading to further injuries, each with their own symptoms.

Psoas muscle pain treatment

When it comes to how to treat a psoas muscle strain, different methods work for different people. In most instances, hip pain can be alleviated with gentle exercises designed to stretch and strengthen the muscle, offering significant pain relief and increased mobility.

However, to avoid further damage to the area, it’s important that these exercises are done with guidance from a doctor or other healthcare professional.

To relieve any pain experienced while continuing with these stretching and strengthening exercises, over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen can be taken.

Some people also find yoga, massage and pilates useful in tackling the symptoms of psoas muscle pain.

Many people also find that insoles for hip pain also help with psoas muscle pain, such as specialist, NHS-approved orthotic insoles from FootActive.

In more severe cases, or where the pain is not settling, a course of physiotherapy treatment may be beneficial. Steroid injections may even be required, particularly if the pain occurs following a hip replacement. In the most serious cases, surgery may be needed, but this is the rarest treatment for psoas pain.

Depending on the extent of the injury, this may involve surgically releasing the psoas tendon which supports the muscle or lengthening the muscle itself.

A woman doing yoga exercises outside, showing how gentle exercise and stretching can help relieve psoas muscle painA woman doing yoga exercises outside, showing how gentle exercise and stretching can help relieve psoas muscle pain

What’s the prognosis for psoas muscle pain?

After following a course of physiotherapy and exercises, the vast majority of people with psoas muscle pain will completely recover all normal motion, usually within six to eight weeks.

However, psoas muscle pain which occurs following a hip replacement may require more advanced therapies, such as steroid injections, over a longer period of time.

Psoas muscle FAQs

What does psoas strain feel like?

With a strained psoas muscle, you may experience pain in the lower back, upper groin, buttocks, deep in the abdomen or radiating down the legs.

This pain may occur when attempting to flex your hip against resistance or when trying to stand in a fully upright posture.

Who can get psoas muscle pain?

While it is possible for anyone to experience psoas muscle pain, it is particularly prevalent among dancers, those participating in kicking sports and athletes such as runners or high jumpers.

Psoas muscle pain is also reasonably common following a hip replacement.

Can insoles help psoas muscle pain?

Arch support insoles for hip pain are one way of helping to potentially alleviate symptoms of tight psoas muscle pain. They achieve this by helping to shift the load on certain structures and potentially wake up other structures that may not be working as well such as the glutes, core stability muscles and quads.

By waking up these other muscles the psoas muscle may become less overloaded and have a better support system for all the muscles to do their jobs. 

Can psoas pain and muscle tightness cause any other problems?

As mentioned, problems with the psoas muscle may lead to pain in other areas of the body, including the groin, abdomen, legs and lower back.

However, psoas muscle pain can also contribute to constipation and other digestive disorders. That’s because a tight psoas muscle will shorten the torso, meaning that it can be difficult for food to be absorbed and eliminated properly.   


Where is the psoas muscle?

The psoas muscle is located deep within the abdomen in the lateral lumbar region between the vertebral column and the brim of the lesser pelvis. It extends from each side of the lower spine through the hips and connecting to the upper thigh bone.

What exercises can I do?

Most exercises which both stretch and strengthen the psoas muscle can be done easily at home without the need for any equipment.

Most commonly, hip flexor stretches and core stability strengthening along with stretching of the surrounding muscles initially and then building the strength. Many of the poses found in yoga can also be helpful in alleviating psoas muscle pain.

Can I use a roller for a tight psoas treatment?

As it sits deep within the body’s core, it isn’t actually possible to use a foam roller on the psoas muscle itself. 

However, using a roller or massager on the four muscles that connect to the pelvis (hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and abdominal muscles, may help to strengthen and stretch the psoas muscle.

How can FootActive help?

We hope you found this guide on psoas muscle pain and tightness useful.  If you have any questions about the benefits of insoles for psoas syndrome, hip pain, and other common foot problems, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

However, if you do have any concerns or significant pain, we’d always recommend you speak to your doctor.

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