Quadratus Lumborum

Back pain does not always come from the Erector Spinae group of muscles. An overstretched or pulled Quadratus Lumborum, or QL, can be causing a lot of discomfort in the lower back. 

QL is located on either side of the spine - between the lower ribs and the top of the pelvis. Anatomically speaking, it attaches to the Posterior Iliac Crest (pelvis), transverse processes of lumbar vertebrae 1-4, and the 12th rib. 

When contracted on one side, it flexes the spine to that side, or pulls the pelvis up, hiking up the hip. When contracted on both sides, it tilts the pelvis forward (anteriorly) and stabilizes our posture, assisting other core muscles and postural stabilizers. 

Stretching the QL feels great. Many yoga poses, as in the image, focus on lateral stretches. However, when held for too long (over 30 seconds), or performed too quickly or too deeply, these lateral stretches may cause the QL attachments on the Pelvis to tear off. Ouch! 

Often, the yoga practitioners do not even know they are over-stretching though. It feels so good! 

It's usually after the class, or workout, that the achy sensation starts nagging in the lower back. What do people do to get rid of that ache? They stretch it more, of course. More side-bending. This in turn tears the muscle attachments even further. The pain does not seem to go away for weeks.

What to Do to Treat QL Pain?

1. Stop stretching it. For now. Until it heals and does not act up anymore. You can stretch it when it's healthy.

2. Get a massage to work out the kinks created by the pull/tear, and to send more blood flow to speed up healing. 

3. Do gentle strength exercises like hands-free Cobra, and Planks. 

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