About Quadratus lumborum muscle | Physiotherapy

Quadratus lumborum muscle

What is the quadratus lumborum muscle?

The quadratus lumborum muscle (QL) is the sincere abdominal muscle. It is located in the lower back, on both sides of the lumbar spine. It starts at the lowermost rib and ends at the top of the pelvis. It’s common to feel pain here because you use this muscle to sit, stand, and walk.

Quadratus lumborum muscle is one of the main sources of low back pain and can affect your physical well-being.

Where are they?

They are at the back of the spine, near the midline, and join the twelfth rib and the iliac crest. The medial fibers also insert into the transverse processes of the lumbar spine.

What problem can arise?

Due to our more sedentary lifestyles, we spend more time sitting in some degree of lumbar flexion.

How does movement affect?

If the quadratus lumborum muscles are overactive or in spasm, they will limit the ability of the spine to flex laterally.

For example, bending over to pick up shopping bags or even things like backing up your car would become much more difficult if your quadratus lumborum muscle is twitching.

Imagine trying to do activities like your bear crawling or rock climbing where you need to lift your hip/leg. The quadratus lumborum muscle should contribute to the hitch of the hip, but when there is a subclinical spasm, this means that speed or control may be inhibited.

Furthermore, the QL spasm could even create a downward mechanical compensation that could be identified as a functional discrepancy in leg length. The subclinical spasm can cause a snag of the ilium by lifting it up on that side, which in turn could affect your pelvic function and even the load that is transferred to your knee and foot.

What can we do?

When we flex laterally or bend laterally, we should see a nice smooth curve in the spine. So we can test QL by asking our client to sit down (to limit pelvic movement) and observe the movement and shape of her spine as she leans from side to side. If you see what we call a “hinge” in the lumbar area somewhat than a flat curve, this would indicate a QL spasm.

The best side-bending exercises are:

  • Gate Pose
  • Side stretch
  • Triangle pose
  • Revolved Triangle Pose
  • Extended Side Angle Pose
  • Pelvic tilt
  • Knee rolls
  • Child’s Pose
  • Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose
  • Knee-to-chest stretch

What happens when the Quadratus lumborum muscle doesn’t work?

Unfortunately, the quadratus lumborum muscle can be injured simply by performing your standard actions. If you bend to the sides incorrectly or if you lift too quickly from a lateral position, you can injure yourself.

In fact, it is incredibly common for people who carry heavy loads on one side (whether shopping or in children) to injure this muscle. Then when the quadratus lumborum muscle is injured, it will show up as low back pain.

And while an injured quadratus lumborum muscle can be the cause of back pain, it is often falsely blamed. Sometimes the actual cause of the pain can be neighboring muscles such as the iliocostalis lumborum.

How to create your Quadratus lumborum muscle feel well?

As always, I recommend that if you are in pain, you first see your doctor. Your doctor can order pictures, medications, and therapy to treat your problem properly and correctly.

If your back pain is not very important and you feel like trying some stretching and exercises at home, I have a couple of ideas.

First, it is important to know that stiffness = weakness. So when you’re deciding what you want to do to make your lower back feel better, keep in mind that you will need to stretch and strengthen those muscles to feel better.

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