Quadratus Lumborum Stretches can help alleviate back pain. A tight and overused quadratus lomborum, or QL, is a common source of low back pain.
The QL’s are a set of identical muscles that are located on either side of your spine near your hips. They connect the right and left 12th rib with the pelvis. The QL’s are part of the low back and core muscle group that performs several important functions:
- lateral (side-to-side) flexion of the spine,
- extension of the spine to hold our torso upright,
- Assists in respiration
The QL’s can become tight and inflamed in a number of ways. One of the most common causes of QL pain is crated by chronic sitting. Office workers often develop weakness in the erector spinae and glute muscles which forces the body to overuse the QL’s.
The erector spinae should be primarily responsible for extending the low back while in a seated position. However if they become too weak, the QL’s will compensate for the erector spinae by constantly contracting while you’re seated. This constant contraction decreases blood flow to the QL’s and could eventually cause a muscle spasm.
The glutes are the prime movers in hip abduction, or moving the leg out to the side of the body. Unfortunately, sedentary office workers often lack glute strength. In an effort to maintain normal movement, the body may call upon the QL’s to abduct the hip. This compensation will cause the QL to become tight and overused.
Quadratus Lumborum Stretches
Modified child’s pose
- Find a space on the floor behind an empty doorway
- Position yourself in the center of the doorway and come down to your hands and knees.
- Slowly reach forward and across the body with right arm and grasp onto the left side of the doorway
- Gently reach pelvis backwards toward the heels as you bend the knees and lean the trunk to the right
- Breath in to the right lower ribs and hold a comfortable stretch for 40 to 60 seconds.
- Release the stretch and switch sides.
Quadratus lumborum deep stretch
- Lay down on your back on the floor.
- Bend your knees so that the feet are flat on the floor. Extend your arms out wide in a “T” position.
- Cross your right leg over the left.
- Gently allow your legs to fall over the the left so that most of your left leg is resting on the floor.
- Breath deeply and hold for 15-30 seconds.
- Slowly rock your legs back up to neutral.
- cross the left leg over the right and repeat.
Adding these stretches to your daily routine could improve your posture and the health of your low back. Additional exercises to strengthen and improve the functioning of the core and glutes may also be a good addition to your exercise program. If your QL pain becomes chronic see a physical therapist for treatment.
Image modified by Uwe Gille