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Low Back Pain due to tight Quadratus Lumborum (QL)

Quadratus Lumborum

Quadratus Lumborum

Quadratus lumborum (QL)

The QL is a muscle in your back. It does side flexion, extension, and hip elevation. This muscle will pick up the slack of weak gluteus medius. When you are trying to stand on one leg, and your gluteus medius is weak, the QL will try and keep your far hip level, with your stance leg. The gluteus medius of the stance leg should be doing this work. This causes tension in the QL. This tension causes the QL to become short and strong and start becoming a primary mover, when it should be a secondary mover.

Stretching this muscle will allow the gluteus medius to get stronger, the Adductor muscle group (muscles on inside of upper leg) to get looser, and help to aleviate some tension in the Illiotibial Band (band of connective tissue on outside of leg between your glute and you knee).

The Idea of this post is to inform people that if you have tension somewhere in your body, the muscles immediately down the chain will be weak, and the muscles across the chain will be weak. Then there has to be tension on the other side of the body to balance out the tension.

Tight Quadratus Lumborum equals:

  • Weak gluteus medius
  • Weak lower abdominals
  • Tight adductors
  • Tight IT Bands (Illliotibial Bands)
Quadratus Lumborum Stretch

Quadratus Lumborum Stretch

A Beneficial Quadratus Lumborum Stretch:

  • Try to keep the top arm on your ear as best as possible
  • Keep bottom hand reaching for inside of the foot
  • Keep top hand reaching for the outside of the foot
  • At full stretch try to look up at the ceiling/sky through your arm. This will put you in a slight arch.

Self-Myofascial Release With Foam Roller

Self-myofascial release (SMR) on the foam roller offers safe benefits and breakdown of soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue in fascia. Fascia is a three dimensional fibrous matrix that interconnects throughout all cells of the body. Fascia surrounds muscles, bones, and joints which gives our body structural integrity and strength. Abnormal fascia can be the leading cause of chronic pain, reduced flexibility and decreased athletic performance. SMR on the foam roller offers an effective, inexpensive, and convenient way to both reduce adhesion and scar tissue accumulation and eliminate what’s already present.

Just note that like stretching, foam rolling doesn’t yield marked improvements overnight; you’ll need to be diligent and stick with it. Self-myofascial release (SMR) on a foam roller is possible due to the principle known autogenic inhibition. A Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO) is a mechanoreceptor found at the muscle-tendon junction; it’s highly sensitive to changes in tension in the muscle. The muscle contraction that precedes the passive stretch stimulates the GTO, which in turn causes relaxation and allows for greater range of motion.

With foam rolling, you can simulate this muscle tension, thus causing the GTO to relax the muscle. Essentially, you get many of the benefits of stretching without the inherent risks associated with poor technique. It’s also fairly well accepted that muscles need to not only be strong, but pliable as well. Regardless of whether you’re a bodybuilder, strength athlete, or ordinary weekend warrior, it’s important to have strength and optimal function through a full range of motion. While stretching will improve the length of the muscle, SMR helps to adjust the tone of the muscle.

How to do it

Roll at a slow pace and actually stop and bear down on the most tender spots. Once the pain in these spots diminishes 50% to 75%, roll the other areas. Eventually you will not have sore or painful areas, in which case you roll for ten repetitions as maintenance and prevention. Use the roller prior to physical activity and afterwards to reduce muscle soreness and enhance recovery.

Be careful to avoid bony prominences. It is recommended to work from the proximal (nearest the center of the body) to the distal (away from the center of the body) attachment of the muscle. For instance, instead of working your quadriceps from top to bottom all in one pass, shorten your stroke a little bit. Work the top half first, and after it has loosened up, move on to the bottom half. This is an important strategy because as you get closer to the distal muscle-tendon junction, there’s a reflex increase in tension. By working the top half first, you decrease the ensuing tension at the bottom, essentially taking care of the problem in advance.

Quadratus Lumborum Self Myofascial Release

With your same side leg extended place the roll in the space between your last rib and top of the pelvis bone. Lift off the ground with the opposite bent leg rocking back and forth leaning backwards.



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