Psoas major and its controversial rotational action

Clin Anat. 1999;12(4):264-5. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-2353(1999)12:4<264::AID-CA4>3.0.CO;2-L.


The action of psoas major muscle as a primary flexor of the hip joint is undisputed. However it is also variably reported as being a medial and a lateral rotator of the femur at the hip joint. The psoas and iliacus muscles, along with their common insertion, were isolated by dissection in six adult cadaveric specimens. The action of psoas muscle was assessed by pulling the muscle along its long axis and then observing the effects on rotation of the femur, with a visual estimation of the rotation in degrees. The experiment was repeated with the hip joint capsule removed. In the anatomical position, applied traction along the long axis of the muscle produced hip flexion with no rotational component. With the hip in the abducted position, traction produced flexion, adduction, and lateral rotation of the femur at the hip joint. In adduction of the hip, traction on psoas produced only flexion at the hip joint, with no rotation. In maximal flexion, traction also produced adduction. The results were unaffected by the removal of the joint capsule.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cadaver
  • Female
  • Hip Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Hip Joint / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Psoas Muscles / anatomy & histology
  • Psoas Muscles / physiology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Rotation
  • Sensitivity and Specificity