Snapping Psoas, Hidden Tiger

If you’re interested in reading more on ideas presented in the article below, I suggest reading Alignment Matters. If you’d like movement instruction via video, start with Alignment Snacks: Frankie Says Relax the Psoas.

Have you ever gotten up from a sitting position and felt a little tweaky in the hip? Hear an audible click when taking your first few steps after being seated, or a pop when kicking your leg out to the side?

This is a condition (cleverly) called “snapping hip.” Here’s the basic low-down. There can be two things going on. Either your iliotibial (IT) band is snapping in and out of its groove (called external snapping hip) or it’s the tendon of the psoas muscle snapping over a bony protrusion (internal snapping hip) .

What makes this snapping happen in the body is the same mechanics that make the noise when you snap your fingers. The amount of *snap* you get when you snap your fingers is based on how much you push them together. If you barely push your thumb and middle finger together, there’s not much noise. There’s no traction. But if you push them together with greater force, you get the snappy noise.

{Did you just snap your fingers? Isn’t it cool to think that, somewhere else in the world, someone is reading this right now and you probably just snapped at the same time?}

Healthy muscle can stretch longer than its resting position length. But years of poor alignment, chronic stress, and other poor physiological habits all create changes within muscle that keeps it from budging. It just stays short and tight all of the time. This isn’t because the muscle is stubborn, but because if it relaxed, you would fall down. You’ve been using the psoas muscles to hold your body upright because of forward thrusting habits and very weak posteriors.

So, tight muscle then transfers its tension to the tendons. In the case of snapping hip, the tendon of the psoas, which should be gently gliding over the pelvis as you move your leg is pulled tight by the tense muscle, gets hung up on a small bony protrusion called the iliopectineal eminence (picture). The *noise* is the sound the rubbing makes, as the tendon passes over.

This is the same mechanical thing happening in shoulder impingement syndrome, FYI.

Quick anatomy math lesson:

tight muscles + tight tendons + bony prominences = tendonitis, then a bone spur, and then a separation (tear) in the tendon itself.

It’s not fun, and if it is happening to your hip, you need to take care of it ASAP. It takes years and years to damage a hip enough for a hip replacement. The snapping noise in your pelvis and hip is your red flag.

Many people with issues like this will be told that theirs is a genetic issue. “You see ma’am, your bony prominence is just too big.” Um, there is a ton of anatomical variability. All bones come with tiny variations to prominence size, lengths, and groove depths. Your ailments are not because of these anthropometric dimensions. It is your alignment and muscle lengths that create ailments. It is in the tension in the psoas muscle (not a genetic quality) that makes snapping hip. Not the size of the prominence. Make sense?

Now here is the really fun part. There is now a surgery for dealing with chronic tension in the psoas. It’s called an arthroscopic iliopsoas tendon release. Another catchy name. Still, that’s better than what it should be called: cutting holes in your tendon.

Now you may wonder (at least I’m hoping you wonder — because I’m going to tell you anyway) how does cutting a hole in something make it longer? Well, in a moment of personal science-teacher genius, I came up with a way to explain how. Kind of. Using pictures, really.

Introducing a shirt. An old shirt, not belonging to me.

Add man with hairy arms, pulling as hard as possible (without pulling shirt of line). The (huge) muscular force of this man’s arms is equal to what the psoas muscle is doing. Pulling. The shirt, the non-force generating material represents the tendon. Stretched to the max, it is ready to snap over a bony prominence at any moment:

Enter master surgeon, played by me and my kitchen shears. Which my husband didn’t know were kitchen shears and has been using them for the last year as regular scissors, which he uses for everything, mostly cutting boxes, which is why I could barely cut the shirt. I mean tendon.

Comparing the pictures side by side, you can see the difference in length. And note: he didn’t change his arm or foot position.

The structural integrity of a material is set by the continuity of its fibers. When you take a material under tension and cut a hole, the cut ends move away from each other in all directions, kind of “thinning” the tissue. Cutting into the shirt made it longer, no question. Now there will be no more snapping. Of course, there’s also no ability for the psoas to be a primary-acting muscle in the body either, because it now connects to a structure that looks like this:

I wouldn’t do this to my own shirt, not to mention my body.

This procedure gets rid of the sound, but allows the real issue — the too-short psoas — to continue on. It’s the equivalent of disconnecting the fire alarm instead of putting out the fire. And, P.S. Getting your psoas to release is differently than simply stretching it. You have to learn to stop using it to do everything (walk, hold you upright, etc.).

Try this. Lie your head and shoulders on a bolster or stack of pillows, making sure nothing is underneath your ribs.

If your ribs are up in the air when your thighs are down on the ground, then your psoas muscle is not relaxed to the correct length. This is a result of a chronic pelvis tucking and rib thrusting habit. And stress. Did I mention stress?

Your body should look like this:

but you shouldn’t have to contract any muscles to get it there. This should be your relaxed position. It does not count if you have to work your muscles against each other.

Try this assessment, and, if you find your ribs up in the air as in the first picture, just sit with it. There is nothing to “do” to fix it. There is something you can “stop doing” though, and that is holding tension in the trunk.

Close your eyes, and open your mind – going in search of deep-seeded tension. You’re like an onion, so you’ll need to switch off unnecessary muscle in waves, but it’s so worth it.

If you are interested in exploring the amazing psoas more, you can learn a lot from this audio interview I did with Liz Koch, fellow psoas-lovah (click). In fact, you can listen to it while you’re relaxing on the bolster.

And, if you really want to know more or have more tools like the one presented today, I can’t recommend my Science of Psoas course enough. It is totally worth it, and that’s not just my opinion. My mom thinks so too. Science of Psoas (click).

Peace out!

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67 thoughts on “Snapping Psoas, Hidden Tiger

  1. Just great information about what to do about the snapping hip thing – I thought my hip was breaking or cracking or something equally horrible. I have a bolster and now I am going to lay on it more regularly. Thank you, Katy. So good to see your blogs. Keep em’ comin’. Hope you, your husband, and your little guy are all well! Lv, Chris Dvorak xoxo

  2. I just got up from doing the psoas class. It is so fantastic. I don’t have noisy hips, but I do have noisy shoulders, more crunchy than snappy. It is not nearly as bad as it used to be though. I’m going to do the shoulder class after lunch.

  3. Hello Katy-

    I love your website and I am a person who has both psoas tendons released. Unfortunately i had FAI surgery but it took many years to get a proper diagnosis. After the surgery i had much more hip mobility but the psoas was actually sawing across the acetabulum and bluntint the repaired labrum again. I have the video and it looked like the beginning of crabmeat. I had tried ART, Egoscue and many others. The pop was audible from 20 ft away. I am 3 months post op and still have some weakness and compensatory issue. However, the tendon that was released was actually cut completely….not vented like the shirt. My adductor longus was released like the shirt during my athletic pubalgia surgery. I want to thank you for all your information. I am finally able to function again at a high level. I am still anterior tilted but I am sure it is going to take a long time to undo the years of tension.

    1. Bless you and your body, Paul! You’ve been through a lot. Keep working on aligning and selecting only the best movements for your body. You both deserve health and longevity! Thanks for sharing your story and reading πŸ™‚

  4. Great post surgery rendition of a “healthy tendon.” Rather scary actually. So if your hip pops only when you kick forward and it is not the psoas, then what is too tight?

    1. It’s still the hip joint and the psoas not releasing. When it is fixed in length it means that it doesn’t lengthen or shorten on the kick forward. Try the same exercise to give yourself an eval…

  5. Love it! I was a little distracted by the fact that MY husband uses my kitchen shears to cut boxes, too! This, despite the fact that we have a pair of previously destroyed kitchen shears devoted to his use. Aaagh! BUT, he hears babies needing a diaper change in the night, while I am comatose, so I guess I can deal with it:) And back to psoas – now I know what position I will be in while I am not sitting on the couch at night! I actually tried something very similar the other night, but I didn’t know if I was on the right track. I don’t necessarily hear a popping (a least in that location) when I get up, but for years now, if I moved a certain way, my hip would feel almost like it was going to pop out of the socket. Now that I have been introduced to my psoas, I think what I’ve actually been feeling was probably a spasm or cramp in my psoas. Does that make sense?

    1. Wow, love the midnight dad. Keep him!
      Yes, the kind of “catchy” feeling in the hip is the same thing – so you were intuitively on the right track! Smarty pants!

  6. It’s hard not to write a 2500-word essay w/the background to my question, but I just know I can do it!! Rah rah! Since my daughter was born 2.5 years ago, if I lie on my back on a hard surface, like such as in the picture above or in the constructive rest position, or in Srvasana, something HURRRRRTS. And it hurts worse when I get out of the position. And it keeps hurting for a long time thereafter. And now that I’m pregnant again (yay?), it hurts worse and worse. And worse. I thought it was maybe an SI joint thing. I’ve got a pilates-based physical therapy apt. set up, but not for another month. I do the calf and double-calf stretches regularly throughout the day, and try to follow as much of your other advice as possible. I had a regular yoga practice up until about two weeks ago, but am afraid to even do that for fear that my body/hips/something-down-there is straight up broken and I don’t want to make it worse. Any ideas? So much more background info–please put me on your list of Skype clients when the time comes!! Oh yeah, and all these issues I have (that go back to who knows when) are on the left side. Along w/some tailbone pain. Geez. (Was that less than 2500 words? Close, I think.)

    1. Something hurts..any more specific? Like is it you that hurts? A certain area? Part? And that was WAY less than 2500 words πŸ™‚

      1. Oops. Important information left out. It hurts in my left upper butt. Where I *thought* maybe the SI joint was, but am not an anatomy wizard, so don’t know for sure. Massage therapist thinks it’s a muscle thing, but I really feel like it’s not. It just happened again when I was leaning over helping daughter wipe (special) on the toilet. In that emergency situation, I did not bend over from the hip like I usually try to, and when I got upright again, bad pain in that left area right above butt, below the back dimple thingies that you know the right name for but that I’m not googling right now. Intuitively, I tend to want to massage the left upper side of my hip, and even applying pressure to the muscle there–maybe it’s the piriformis? The piriformis stretches I do seem to help, too, but it always comes back with a vengeance. Not sure if this could all be connected to the tailbone, but I get some pain there too, and did throughout last pregnancy, and felt like it was being shattered when daughter was being born. Special times.

  7. P.S. Yup, I get that snapping. Didn’t know it was the psoas. But when I do lay down like in that picture (risking pain for 5 seconds just to see), it seems that my psoas aren’t actually that tight. (They used to be. I’ve worked at this, and at getting a strong butt. Thanks for that, too.)

  8. My immediate reaction to the title of this post was: this a rhetorical question, right? But of course I knew better. Love the demo. Now you need to get Michael a new shirt.

    1. I think he can still wear the shirt, but with some sort of colorful tank top underneath… don’t you think?

  9. I have that hip snapping thing! It only happens if I lay on my back and lift my right leg vertically. When I lower my leg to the floor there a loud snap when it is about 8-10 inches above the floor. This is the only time it pops, I asked a DR about it and his reply was now that I was 30 my joints were going to be popping more…

  10. Thank you so much for posting this!

    Pelvis tucked? Check (but been working on this)

    Ribs thrust? Check (ditto)

    Stress? Check (ditto, but not going anytime soon)

    Tight psoas? Check (It’s so tight, its trying to collapse in on its self and make a mini black hole)

    That exercise (which I’ve attempted on and off for a while now)? So very, very difficult. Doing it makes my lower and mid back, and my hips, hurt (and my arms to go partially numb. Tight shoulder girdle? Check.)

    I’m going to persevere.

    1. Ok, so the thing that you need to really mull over is this: The exercise, sitting and essentially allowing yourself to give up all bracing-tensing-gripping-gritting action, is painful for you to do. Just think about that for awhile, in a *bigger picture* sense. You can let it go. You can. I know it. And listed to this stress audio lecture when you have time:

      Right now you’re fighting your self – you can have the stress or you can have the health. Choose well, woman πŸ™‚

  11. This is the perfect place to say Thanks. I’ve been a long time student of qi gong, kung fu, tai chi etc. It’s been so hard to find information on how to do these moves right. Your classes and videos are very helpful. When I tilt my pelvis properly in horse stance I am much stronger. The calf stretches and toes exercises give me a stronger base for balance. When I pay attention to my intercostals in my breath work I can feel the difference. The best thing is when you showed us the picture with the little boxes for bending over. I had been so proud of how I could put my palm on the floor until I realized it was incorrect. I did it your way and could actually feel the gi moving! Woo Hoo! Then I looked at an old manual with pictures taken from drawings in a cave or something in China. There it was, the little drawing of a person bending over just as you described.

    I have most of your videos. They are very helpful. I have been having a problem with snapping in my left shoulder. I noticed that it is taking the stretches for the shoulder along with the overall body alignment to alleviate the problem. The one where you had us pay attention to the shoulder blades was amazing. Really helpful.

    I have a degree in anthropology and last year when you mentioned looking at how people in more indigenous societies moved I began to pay attention too. I went back over some of my anthro books and looked at the pictures. so no more Snapping Joints, Hidden Pain. Thanks to you Katy

    1. Wow, thanks Theresa! You’ve made so much progress with just the classes and the blog! Someday, you should look into the whole-body program. The material presented here is about 10% of the academic content. And I didn’t invent this info, any more than Newton invented gravity. It’s just basic physical principles, been around since the beginning of time…just waiting to be understood πŸ™‚

      Have a great weekend!

  12. Thanks for a great post and pictures. A quick question. When I get up from sitting in a chair. Sometimes my left hip “catches” and I gimp around for about ten steps (because if I am upright, it really hurts) and then after 10 steps or so I can stand tall and walk normal. Same thing?



    1. Yep – same thing. A tight psoas won’t shorten correctly either – it simply doesn’t budge so changing positions creates all sorts of backlog along the muscular-tendon structure.

  13. Thanks for all the fantastic information, Katy. I have SI pain in my left hand SI joint, which develops into pelvic girdle pain when I’m pregnant. A physical therapist said this was due to my psoas on that side being too weak (I’ve also had a tight iliotibial band, and my left foot is weaker than my right) but I also get the popping on that side, and can sort of release the SI joint if I lean over to the right and forward, so I’m not convinced. I’ve been lying on the bolster and can feel a stretch on both sides at the front. I guess I’m just asking whether a weak psoas sounds likely to you or whether these stretches would be more useful. Many thanks for any advice!

    1. Remember that a weak psoas and a tight psoas can be the same thing. It should like your psoas might be an underlying issue. Are your ribs still up in the air when you’re doing the release?

      1. Hi Katy. No, they aren’t in the air, but I’ve got a bit of a way to go before they’re full on the floor. I can feel a definite pull down the front of both hips so something’s stretching! The therapist gave me an exercise to strengthen the psoas, where I sit with one foot on the floor and the other leg bent up, but I find that it’s equally difficult on both sides, which surely doesn’t make sense if it’s one side that’s ‘weak’ in terms of not being tight enough, which is presumably what he’s trying to correct.

        1. I find that most people, professionals I mean, misunderstand the difference of weakness due to tension and weakness due to over-lengthening of the sarcomere (small units that make up a muscle). If your psoas is so short that your ribs don’t reach the ground, than doing an exercise to get it to contract would not be the correct prescription in this case – there’s no where for the muscle to tighten as it would during the exercise — it’s already there (which is why you’re having a hard time doing it πŸ™‚ This is the same thing I’ve been trying to educate everyone on regarding kegels. The PF is weak because it’s shortened all the way. You can kegel all you want, that’s not the correct prescription for strengthening a weak and short muscle.

          Relax away, sista!

  14. Katy- is it the result of the psoas being short that causes other hip problems like pirifirmis syndrome. Does it all begin with the psoas?? Can one have a problem with the iliacus and not psoas? Ty πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Sue,
      That’s the thing I am trying to teach here – if one muscle is off, many many others are off because you are one continuous structure. Because the psoas is so large, when IT is off, it tends to have a greater affect than if a smaller, non-central muscle was at the inappropriate length. When the psoas is short, it keeps the pelvis in a position that prevents the posterior muscles from firing, which is one thing that can tighten the piriformis. So, you can work and work on the piriformis but not make much headway if the darned psoas keeps you in a position that tightens it up again πŸ™‚ Hope this helps! – Katy

  15. I just checked my email for the first time in a couple of days. I told my acupuncturist this morning that I had been stretching my piriformis muscles and that working on my psoas was next. What a joy when I came home, checked my email and sure enough, a psoas blog from Katy! I had no idea that the popping/cracking I was experiencing was coming from my psoas. It makes so much sense, now. Yes, my work is cut out for me… You have again proved your awesomeness!

  16. Katy – where have you been all my life? Not only are you funny and fun, but right on target. Don’t know if it’s a psoas thing or some other tendon, muscle or other body part but after a fall a month ago where I hit the front and side of my right thign and landed on my back, I’ve had serious pain in the upper part of my thigh where it joins the hip and pelvic area. Sometimes I’m not able to walk. My chiro guy has always said the abductors, piriformis and the psoas caused me problems but nothing like this. I am going to spend a long time reading your blog, looking a videos and carefully trying a few of the exercises until I figure out what is happening. I have arthritis and djd but up until this injury have been pretty mobile and happy. Thank you, thank you. Pep

  17. Katy,

    Yes!!! I do get that snapping noise – mostly on the right side. I have injured this area 3 times in the last couple of years – all 3 different ways, but the essence of which put extreme rapid outward force on the leg and hip. Probably a tendon tear or at least an over stretch. I do psoas stretching regularly – one like you show, over a bolster at the tips of the shoulder blades; the other is a knee to chest w/ opposite leg extension stretch (and oh yes – the low back curve is in place with this – tailbone slightly tipped into the floor!). When my hips are in alignment as well as the SI joint – and I do the regular lengthening, there is far less snapping noise. Following the 3 injuries, it seems to me I now have less external rotation of the hip on the right side…I am a yoga instructor, so I pay attention to this stuff – we are NOT symmetrical!!! I have felt all along these injuries were psoas related – and now I am convinced it is so. It has been nearly a year since the last injury, and I’m having less and less pain – and gaining back some mobility – as the time goes. At 58 – that isn’t bad!!!


  18. Katy, trying to do the laying with shoulders and head on a bolster and releasing the psoas, I cannot figure out how to get my hamstrings on the floor! I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, or what I need to relax. I feel like my butt is in the way, no matter how I adjust it. Can you give me a suggestion about this?


    1. If your hammies don’t touch, then you need to make the bolster higher until they do. Try starting sitting up, getting them to touch, and then lie back on your elbows, finding the place where they start to come up. THAT is how tight they are.

  19. Oh, i think i’m in trouble here. I was thinking about you this morning while i was still in bed. (is that weird? :)) the only way ii can sleep on my back is to … umm… splay(?) my hips, and then i bend one knee and tuck the foot under the other knee. (like a 4). Sigh, so much stretchibg to do, so little time…

  20. Katy, is there a way to “build up” to this psoas release. I need to do it in the worst way, but I have so much SI pain when I lay on the floor, that I just cannot relax and “let go”. Would putting the bolster lower down (partly under my rib cage) and then gradually moving it higher work? I know that the SI thing and my short psoas are probably linked, but the darn thing hurts so much sometimes, it makes doing some of the exercises painful. Or should I just go have my osteopath try to loosen things up a little and try it after that? She told me to stretch my hip flexors for it, but I don’t seem to be getting anywhere.

  21. Wow. I have to thank Paul for reffering me here. You have so much great information. I had suregery on my right hip in Feb for FAI and labral tear. During surgery they performed a psoas release. Not even sure why nor did I fully understand the effect it would have on my recovery or the long term results. Had my left hip surgery for the same in April. But this time there was no psoas release. Flew through that recovery! Was back to full ROM in about 2 months. But that R hip kept lagging behind. No pun intended. Found that I couldn’t pick my leg up to put my shoes or socks on. Literally had to lift my leg with my hand. And my ROM was worse than pre-op. Despite aggressive PT. Because of this, as well as continued pain, I had a revision surgery. As soon as they saw my hip, it was quite obvious why I was in so much pain. The joint was encapsulated. Thick white scar tissue. So much that they were unable to distract the joint. Tried to release the capsule and nothing. So as you know, once it is released it can’t be changed. So my question to you is there anything I can do to help strenghten my leg? Possibly improve my ROM? Thanks so much for taking the time to read this!

    1. Of course – ALWAYS something to improve. In the end, you still have abundant muscle to reconfigure to give you stability and mobility! And, thanks to Paul for sending you over!!!

  22. I watched both your Science of Psoas and Save Your Knees Build A Butt video courses today and can’t thank you enough. They are amazing values for the amount of information you efficiently and eloquently and totally cram into relatively small amounts of time. It was like having at least a semester’s worth of anatomy and kinesiology downloaded directly into the brain at hyper-speed.

    The question I have is how to do squats without relying on my psoas (psoi). Also, my feet tend to splay outward at about 10-15 degrees despite my above average flexibility. Is this an indication of my end range based on my bone structure or just a sign that there is further strengthening and lengthening to do? Perhaps I need to read the blog about sqautting again. I’ll do that now. Merci buckets!!

    1. Alexa,
      The problem is in the tension in your lower leg and foot. Very common in shoe-wearing peeps. If you go through the blog, you’ll find some lower leg and toes stretches. It takes awhile, but you’ll improve!

      Congrats, and thanks for taking the time to learn about yourself!

  23. What thickness (or range) is best for the bolster? Does it promote a better stretch to have something about as wide as the shoulder blades, rather than out past the sides of the body?

    My pillow is one of those curved foam ones–it’s not symmetrical. I’m looking at yoga/exercise bolsters…any tips on how to decide between round and rectangular?


    1. Hmm. I think that round or rectangular is fine. It’s not so much what the bolster does to the scapula, but about the height it gives the upper body from the floor!

  24. So if I do the laying on the floor check thing I can slide my hands under my rib cage, but just barely…is that low enough, or should I actually have my ribs touching the floor? It looks like your ribs are up just a tad.

    I’m a childbirth educator…which of your videos would you most recommend for me to get to add to my client library? I can’t afford the whole set.

  25. Does iliopsoas release through massage, active release therapy etc help the snapping? I have a client who also experiences severe pain with her snapping hips… mostly happens with extreme hip flexion, sitting on the ground with her knees up to her chest. When she stands she can hardly walk for the pain. I have only treated her once and released iliopsoas, so I hope that helps!

    1. Well, it’s important to keep the iliacus and the psoas separate in your mind — they have two entirely different actions and planes of motions. You can definitely work on release, but the problem is the tension is caused by how the client is using it — how they are recruiting it with their brain. People can be released and then get up and recruit the same tension once they’re walking back to their car! It sounds like she’s not yielding correctly (the muscle isn’t shortening appropriately due to the tension). The damage with snapping is it tends to happen frequently. Check in and see if the frequency of snapping has changed and you’ll have an indicator to whether or not it’s effective!

  26. Just read this again today, and have been doing the psoas release every day, as well as the number 4 stretch, glute stretches, calf/hamstring stretches… yet…

    I’ve had snapping hips since I was about 10 years old. I was a ballet dancer, going to a very prestigious ballet school where I was dancing up to six hours a day (grinding my external rotation at my ankles/knees/hips no doubt). By the time I was in high school, my hips would snap so loudly you could hear it across a busy room (almost like bubble wrap)! If when doing the psoas release my hamstrings are soft on the floor without effort, legs neutral (ie no ballerina turnout) and the bolster (same one you use) is properly positioned with my ribs soft on the floor with no effort, does this mean my psoas is still at a correct length? Is it possible for the psoas to be chronically inflammed (thus causing the snapping?), or would there be anything else that could be causing it? I now wear only barefoot shoes, and practice walking in proper alignment with my femurs in external rotation, I’m working on my squat, and I’ve never been a rib-thruster. I’d hate to do all this work and end up with a double hip replacement one day o_O !

    Thanks Katy!

    1. Hmm, well there could be enough ligament damage that your parts are hypermobile? Tough to say without seeing how you are going it. The most important piece is the the hamstrings are relaxed and mushed on the ground. Also, you might need some lateral hip strength — how about searching the pelvic list on the blog to see a video of it?

  27. Yes, I love the hip list! I also practice the Monster Walk and have been teaching it to some of my prenatal clients! It may well be hypermobility, as I’ve been able to laterally pop out my femurs (individually), since I was a kid (party trick!); something I definitely avoid practicing now. I also love your cue of pressing down into the supporting leg to elevate the opposite hip; something I probably wouldn’t have focused on beforehand. Thanks!

  28. Hi! Love the information and graphic display you made. I ended up on this site while looking up results from a neuromuscular disorder clinic. THe short story- I have had back problems for a very long time (herniated lumbar/sacral discs). Have done acupuncture, PT many times, had injections. Kept working as a paramedic for another 10 years. In last 2 years, have had 10 joint surgeries including bilateral knee reconstructions. Both ACL’s are now re-torn, so I use braces if I have to walk very far or am in a hurry (as I have fallen so many times). After my knee surgeries I started having bizarre muscle fasciculations all over my body, but more in my legs, hips and butt than in my upper body. I have had multiple abnormal EMG’s and NCV’s, leading to testing for myopathic genetic disorders. In a few weeks, I will be having several sections of muscle from my quad biopsied (which has shriveled up like a raisin at the meatiest point).

    One of the things my EMG says is regarding bilateral psoas muscles- there is “Myotonic units and myotonic discharges in the bilateral iliopsoas, with early recruitment, decreased amplitude and duration, and an early pattern”

    I realize you are not be an electrophysiologist, but I am curious if you think this could be from chronic tension in my psoas? Everyone I know comments that I walk hunched over (always have, even before I herniated the discs). I am so tight everywhere it makes massage therapists cringe and PT’s sigh in delight. But, given the thought of a hereditary genetic disorder, I continue on with the testing, because my husband has pointed out, my 7 year old niece walks just like I do, and always has.
    I will start these exercises today, and see if they help, but if you have any information that might help me, I beg of you to please respond! I would hate to go through with these muscle biopsies if you think there is a possibility I could have abnormal EMG’s simply from tight muscles due to improper use!

    1. Dear Mindie – As a biomechanist we have to study EMG as well. You have hypertonic muscle issues, clearly. You do NOT need a surgical release, and certainly not before you have entertained some of this new (to you) information! I would strongly suggest taking the PSOAS SCIENCE course here: If you cannot afford it, please contact me. I have worked with hundreds of people who have run them gamut of evaluations and surgical interventions (think REPEATED psoas releases) to no avail — only to find relief from pain in less than a week. I suggest you read the Too Tight Pelvic Floor posts as well, RU a RIB Thruster and as many posts as you can. Good Luck!

  29. Hi Kathy. I have had to hitch and click my right hip for at least 20 years. 4 years ago I did the release move after getting up and it went `clunck’ since then I have been progressively getting weaker inthe right leg, now it is so bad I can hardly walk some days- the hip twists all round to the back. have you seen these symptoms with psoas tension? Know one has a clue what is going on, saying it must be arthritis but there is no sign in xrays.

  30. Had THA via anterior approach last May. Did great first 3months. Since then, pain. In beginning like a tendinitis, aleve 2x day, can’t walk around block, go up stairs leading with operative leg without pain. Some days pain is as if I never had surgery. One day pain so bad I had no control of the leg. Hav been reading about this release. With no insurance, & no job, can’t c original MD, applied for medicaid 4x finally getting into c a different md . can’t live like this anymore

  31. I have been having a nasty little catch in my hip lately, so I was curious about this. It wasn’t hard at all for me to relax my ribs right down to the floor, though. Does this mean that I don’t have the problem, or that my pillows weren’t high enough, or what? I’m wondering if I should have my husband try it. He’s been having severe sciatica pain–would this help?

  32. Hey Katy . 3 years ago I prolapsed a disk at l5 s1 , from that I have had a lot of difficulties , mainly standing which I do all day every day. I have worked on my flexibility and it’s great now but I have this snapping on my left side, and a leg shortening on the other. My Physio reckons its my psoas but I can’t stretch it . I’ve just been told today by my doc that they may do a release operation. I shd say this tho my snapping occurs when standing on the side of my leg and when I’m lying flat my snapping only occurs in my low back and not the side of my leg. Can u advise pleas and thank you

    1. It’s not about stretching the psoas, it’s about releasing it. Check out the knee cap release sample on our youtube (I think it’s under Knees and Hips?) and see if you can or can’t. Then, the next step is to learn to do that to your psoas. Turn it off. backing up your hips, dropping your ribs are good habits to get into when you’re standing around. I’d also recommend the Psoas course. It explains where it is (2 hours worth) and an hour of “what to do about it…”

  33. Thanks Katy. Do I get your course on here ? So what would u say has happened to me, like would u say since my prolapse my psoas muscle took over and hasn’t let go pulling me to one side ?

  34. Hi Katy,

    Thank you for this post. I have a sounding hip (right side) and I definitely do not want a plastic one, so I am going to do your exercise every day, and probably do your indepth psoas course also soon. I have some questions: My hamstrings only touch the floor if I am on my elbows (so a hugh pile of cushions). If I make it a bit lower, my buttom and my lower legs do touch the floor, but my hamstrings not. So start on my elbows then?

    Another question: if I relax my legs tend to fall outward (my knees and feet pointing outward in stead of upward). Is this ok, or should I keep my feet pointed upward?

    Finally, I realize my right knee (and ancle) do ‘pop’ a lot also (actually my whole body tends to be a bit hypermobile, ‘popping’ a lot). My left knee does not pop. Is this related with my hip problem? (right hip plopping?)

    Thanks for helping me!


  35. Hi Katy–
    thank you for all that you write and do! Here’s a question: I have snapping hip. I’ve had it for probably 10 years?? no pain until this year. Pain isn’t with the snapping– it’s a deep ache in my anterior hip– more medial than lateral. Close to the groin– but really the front of the hip. Mostly the pain is after and during sitting in external rotation and hip flexion like in a cross-legged seat. Here’s the thing: when i do the tight psoas test I am fine– ribs to the floor– no muscular effort. I teach yoga and work a lot on this. I also run– the hip has gotten worse with more running (of course! ). Does this still sound like tight psoas even though I pass the test? Or something else? Any words of wisdom will be greatly appreciated!

  36. Whenever I do the cobra pose if I relax me back I feel this sort of snapping (not really but that’s the best word I have to describe it) in but lower lower lower back. So far low its basically the top of my butt. It kinda hurts but then it helps me stretch farther. What is going on here?

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