The Iliacus Muscle

The Iliacus Muscle

David Keil Anatomy, Torso Leave a Comment

What Does Iliacus Mean?

The Iliacus Muscle

  • Iliacus refers to the ilium or ilia which is the uppermost part of your pelvis.
  • Iliacus is one part of the iliopsoas muscle (we’ll cover psoas major next time!).

Where Does the Iliacus Muscle Attach?

  • One end (proximal) of the iliacus muscle has a broad area of attachment on the inside of the pelvic bowl. You can see it outlined in the image to the right and bottom.
  • The other end (distal) attaches onto a bump on the inside and back of the femur called the lesser trochanter. This is the exact same place that the psoas major attaches.

What Are The Actions of the Iliacus Muscle?

The Iliacus Muscle Attachments

  • The simple answer is that the iliacus muscle flexes and externally rotates the femur.
  • When combined with the psoas muscle, the two muscles are considered the strongest hip flexors in the body.
  • It uses the pubic bone as leverage to create some of that strength.
  • The iliacus muscle can also add to an anterior tilt of the pelvis (down and forward).

Keep in mind that most muscles are described from anatomical position. This means that it is assumed that the pelvis is more stable than the femur which is true most of the time. However, things are not so simple in the body. Not only could we find ourselves lying on the floor and using this muscle to lift our pelvis, torso, and spine, but we would also use this muscle to help stabilize the femur and the pelvis relative to one another.

Postures Where the Iliacus Muscle Contracts

iliacus muscle in navasana

The iliacus muscle is contracting in boat pose.

iliacus muscle in utthita hasta padangusthasana

Although she is using her hand to help, the iliacus muscle along with other hip flexors, lifts the leg.

iliacus muscle in paschimattanasana

The iliacus muscle should be used to bring you into a forward bend.

Postures Where the Iliacus Muscle is Lengthened

iliacus muscle in supta virasana

Supta virasana lengthens the iliacus muscle. You can put more pressure on it by lifting the hips in this position as well.

iliacus muscle in urdhva dhanurasana

The iliacus muscle lengthens when the hip joint goes into extension, especially if the knees stay straight.

iliacus muscle in ustrasana

Ustrasana also lengthens the iliacus muscle with the hip moving into extension.

Iliacus Muscle Injury

Iliopsoas tendinitis: muscles are generally sore/tender (like tendinitis of any muscle) and caused by overuse of these two muscles usually from a sport (e.g. running and/or bicycling)

Iliacus dysfunction: The iliacus muscle is in a constant state of contraction from long periods of keeping the muscle in a shortened position (i.e. lots of sitting, driving, etc.). This can create trigger points and refer pain to a number of locations in the lower body. (See below for the image of trigger points from the iliopsoas)

You may also recall an article I wrote related to a “pinching sensation” near the inside of our hip when adducting the thigh as we do in twists. This is usually the iliacus muscle. Check out the video on the article to see how test and see if it is your iliacus.

Trigger Points

Trigger Points in the Iliopsoas Muscles

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About David Keil

This website is simply about delivering yoga anatomy to the yoga community in a simple and understandable way. It has always been about you, the reader, understanding the complexity and diversity of our own humanness as well as our anatomy.

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