The Iliacus Muscle

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Did you know……..

The Iliacus muscle is a flat, triangular muscle which fills the iliac fossa, set within the hip region.

  • It contributes a lot to general function. From walking and supporting posture to working with the psoas major muscle (known together as the iliopsoas) to create powerful hip and trunk flexion. These movements allow us to bend down to tie laces/pick things up as well as do exercises like sit ups/crunches.
  • Regular time spent sitting for prolonged periods can cause the iliacus muscle to shorten. Reduced flexibility and weakness in the iliacus can result in hip stiffness and pain associated with muscle tightness. Making a point to break up episodes of prolonged sitting can go a long way to decrease the likelihood of muscles becoming shortened. After 30 minutes of sitting it is important to stand up and move around for a few minutes.
  • Strength training without adequate complementary stretching can also result in the iliacus shortening. While it is important to make sure the iliacus and other muscles are strong, it is vitally important to promote good flexibility to reduce the risk of injury and pain.
  • An imbalance in the strength and flexibility between the left and right iliacus can manifest as hip, knee and back pain due to iliacus dysfunction. If one side is shorter than the other then there is excess strain through joints and muscles while walking, bending and reaching.
  • Tight hip flexors like the iliacus can pull the pelvis into an anterior pelvic tilt. Imagine the pelvis as a bucket of water- an anterior pelvic tilt would be as if the bucket was angled to tip water out of the front. Whilst some anterior pelvic tilt is normal, a change from your body’s normal can increase the curve of your lower back and produce pain.
  • Particularly in running, the iliopsoas can be overused to the point of injury. Acceleration and deceleration coupled with the forces travelling through the hips and legs while running cause the tendon that attaches the iliopsoas to the femur to become irritated and inflamed. Hip and deep groin pain is associated. Recovery requires relative rest alongside activity/exercise modification to mitigate deconditioning.