Your QL Muscle May Be The Cause Of Your Low Back Pain

Do you ever experience sciatica pain? Or feel a deep back ache when you try to rest? You may also notice pain that is worse with standing, sitting, or with side bending and twisting movements. These are just some of the symptoms that your tight QL muscle might be causing.

The Quadratus Lumborum (QL) is a deep muscle on either side of the spine in the low back. It contributes to the stabilization and movement of the spine and the pelvis. Contracting the QL muscles on both sides of your spine allows you to bend backward at the low back. When the muscle is only activated on one side, the trunk is bent towards that direction (lateral flexion).

A tight QL may be a result of an acute or chronic lower back pain. It could be due to some instability around the pelvis and/or back. It may also be a result of weak core or gluteal muscles. In this case, the QL takes the burden and works extra hard in order to maintain balance and eventually it tires out. Basically that’s when you would blow your back out.

If one or both sides of this muscle get tight and cramp up, it can compress the spine and put even more pressure on an already bulging or herniated disc, making the situation even worse. A tight QL can restrict pelvic movement and may put an abnormal curve in your spine making you appear to have a leg length discrepancy or even scoliosis.

To stretch or release the QL:

For a static stretch, place your hip on the wall (the side you’re stretching) and lean away from it, reaching as far as you can with your arm over your head without taking the hip from the wall. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, 2-3 times.

For a dynamic stretch, stand on a stool while holding on to something.  Drop your leg (the side you’re stretching) and reach your hand (on the same side of the dropped leg) to the ceiling. Feel the pull on your QL, hold the stretch for just 5 seconds, and then come back to starting position. Make sure you go slow and controlled. Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

Lacrosse ball release: Place the ball anywhere between your last rib and your pelvic bone off to the side of the big loin muscle that goes along your spine. You may lean into the wall or, if you can tolerate more pressure, lay on the ball. Move around and find the points of tension. Ease into them and hold for 10-30 seconds. Focus on a controlled breathing pattern as this particular release could be quite uncomfortable.

If you feel chronic tightness in your low back area, visit an expert at All Sports Physical Therapy. Our therapists can manually treat your spine to relieve symptoms and guide you through stretches and exercises to keep pain from recurring.

Good luck and Happy Stretching!

By: Cecilia Manubay, PT

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