The Iliopsoas is a crucial muscle in the hip flexor muscle group that can easily be injured. This article should help you understand its’ function and how it is at risk.
What is Iliopsoas Syndrome?
Iliopsoas syndrome is sometimes referred to as Iliopsoas tendonitis, a very common hip flexor injury. This is one of the types of hip flexor tendonitis that we visited in our early article on the subject. This article will be more in-depth into this specific tendonitis since it is the most common affliction.
A brief definition of the injury; Iliopsoas syndrome is caused by inflammation of the Iliopsoas tendon. This inflammation can be caused several ways, but typically is caused by repetitive movements.
The Iliopsoas bursa, as shown in the diagram, is a small sac filled with fluid that helps the different parts of the hip that rub against each other move smoothly. Just on top of the bursa is the Iliopsoas tendon, which attaches the Iliopsoas muscle to the pelvic bone via a tendon. If you want more detail about hip flexor anatomy, refer to our other articles.
How to Diagnose
Typically if you have this affliction, you will experience hip flexor pain on a regular basis during any activity; this can include high stress activities as well as walking. The pain will be felt in the groin/hip area and typically felt when lifting your leg either up or laterally. If you stretch the muscle you will often experience more pain, instead of relief.
How to Treat
The first thing you have to do is bring down the inflammation in a two-step process. First, follow the PRICE procedure outlined in the hip flexor treatment article, and secondly, stop all activity for at least 2 weeks. After this point you will have to judge your injury recovery and if you need more time off.
If you feel healed, without any pain in normal activity, you can begin rehabbing the injury to regain function.
Your first priority, just like with a hip flexor strain, is to regain any lost flexibility, realistically if you have only been out of activity for a few weeks this will not take long, a few days at most. Refer to our hip flexor stretches if you need more information.
Once you have your flexibility back you need to work on strengthening the hip flexor, and more specifically the Iliopsoas. If you can get access to a resistance band you can attach to your leg, it would be most helpful. Follow the strengthening exercises as explained in the final part of our treatment series.
The most important thing that cannot be emphasized enough is to take it SLOW when returning to activity. The last thing you want to do is try to jump back into a full training load and re-injure your Iliopsoas and be out for 2-3 more weeks.
Start with short light runs, and once you can do a few per week with no issue start building back up slowly, ideally increase your mileage no more than 10% each week to ensure you won’t get injured again. During this training time make sure to keep strengthening your hip flexor and stretching often, don’t try to just get back to where you were before the injury, but push past it and reach a new level of strength to avoid future injuries.