The quadratus lumborum muscle is one of the deepest muscles in the back and it is a common cause of lower back pain. It’s origin is the posterior iliac crest and the iliolumbar ligament, which basically means it starts at the hip. It’s insertion is the twelfth rib and on the L1-L4 vertebrae. It acts to flex the trunk left and right.
I like videos to explain stuff, and this is a good one. It’s showing you where the quadratus lumborum is and how to find it.
Trigger points in the QL are painful and annoying. Acute low back pain often has is contributed to by a tight quadratus lumborum muscle. It can also be a factor in chronic low back pain and can be the cause of symptoms of many other problems such as sciatica and hip issues. Many people will suffer from an acute QL problem after lifting or twisting whilst moving something heavy suddenly, it’s that tight feeling in the back where it is almost disabling and crawling is the only way to take the pressure off the in the muscle.
The QL also has a really strong relationship with pain in the glute and hip areas. The anatomy of it means that it pulls both your hip and your back way out of whack, if you have trigger points in this muscle you need to release them.
How To Release The Quadratus Lumborum
Now that you have a basic understanding of where the muscle is, lets talk about how to release it. Quadratus Lumborum trigger points can occur along the muscle, and if you visit a therapist they will be able to pin point a couple of specific ones that often cause trouble. On your own however it is a different story, but you can still do a lot of good work with a tennis ball. There are four man trigger points in the QL, an upper trigger point, a lower trigger point and two deeper trigger points that are much closer to the spine. All four trigger points refer pain in different areas, all in the surrounding back and hip area. Check out this pic.
If you suffer from extensive and debilitating back pain that you suspect may have a quadratus lumborum component your best bet is to see a therapist as soon as possible. For those with a history of tight lower back, back pain and hip problems, these do it yourself at home techniques for releasing the QL are something you should consider. Although nothing beats a good therapists fingers for releasing trigger points in hard areas, you can manage and sometimes even cure your pain at home with just a little knowledge and diligence.
We talk a lot on Laurens Fitness about using a tennis ball to release trigger points and help muscle pain. The QL can be reached with a tennis ball, and this video explains where you will need to place the ball. You can be against a wall or lying on your back. Alternatively, if you have some sort of a block to raise the ball, you can lie on your side, the tennis ball should be in the same place, but you will get a deeper more satisfying release. If at any point you feel pain or tightening up, stop and lay on your stomach and wait for the muscle to relax. This is great for tight lower backs, but if your pain is debilitating twisting around and finding the right position can make it worse.
Here is a video showing you how to foam roll the QL. Again, given the surface area of the foam roller, you can’t reach the points as successfully, but it will help in giving you a lot of relief.
The QL can cause a lot of back problems, and you can help prevent them with these methods. For debilitating pain go to a therapist immediately, you may have suffered from a bulging disc or something serious.
The Self Massage Guide I wrote will help you release your Quadratus Lumborum and more…