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Sharp Pain Across Top of Hips

Your Pain Pattern,
What Aggravates It,

The Underlying Anatomy
How to Get Relief,
and more…

How People Describe This Pain Pattern

These people complain of sharp pain across the low back when getting out of bed, out of a car, or standing from a chair. They may also be slow to rise from a seated position.

People with this condition also tend to walk and stand with their hips thrust back and their shoulders forward to accommodate the tight psoas major muscles. This teetering posture usually leads to other musculoskeletal problems that create a sharp, unstable low back, especially in the morning.

The most common posture involves a sharp curve at the bottom of their spine. This is caused by the pull of psoas major on the lower vertebrae. This illustration shows how psoas major is perfectly positioned to pull those vertebrae forward.

People with a flat low back also get this pattern but usually have problems with compression in other lumbar discs as well. In those cases, they often have a larger gut and psoas is pulling forward and down) to keep the low back from curving backward.

How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

Here’s a classic example. She’s good at keeping her shoulders back. They are over her hips but notice how her spine is flat in her upper back with winged shoulder blades. Her spine curves sharply at the base of her spine. This is indicative of a tight psoas that is pulling the spine forward and down to counter shortened abdominals.

Sharp pain across the top of the hips indicates that the psoas major is tight on both sides. In her case, you can tell from the flexed hip and knee, hers is even tighter on the right. She may be having this pain pattern instead.

By the way, people are built asymmetrically. The left hip is bigger and more anteriorly rotated in almost all of us. If you watch, you’ll see that people are much more likely to lock the left knee and flex the right hip when standing, as she does.

The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain

Start by Understanding the Anatomy.
About the coloring of the illustrations…

This muscle is seldom illustrated to show both sections, which attach on different vertebrae and wedge the iliohypogastric complex between them. Learn more in this post about psoas major.

Getting Relief on Your Own

Clinically Proven
Self-Care Recommendations.

This post has strategies for getting relief on your own. Explore how to change your activities, stretch, ice, and more to relieve the pain associated with this trigger point.

Therapy Notes for Massage and Bodywork

Better Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise.

This post has techniques, tips, treatment routines, and anatomy illustrations to improve the bodyworker’s approach.

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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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*This site is undergoing major changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and will include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there may be inconsistency in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.