Up to 80% of Americans will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. In previous articles, we discussed how piriformis release and stretching a tight psoas may provide relief for this problem. Working through other possible sources of discomfort, we move on to the quadratus lumborum.
Lower Back Stiffness & The Quadratus Lumborum
The quadratus lumborus (QL) is one of the more overlooked sources of lower back pain. Frequently a source of referred pain, the quadratus lumborum is a largemuscle that connects the spine to the pelvis. Connecting the last rib to the lumbar vertebrae, the QL is integral to the following:
- Stabilizing the hip
- Side-to-side bending
- Lifting the hip when the spine is fixed
- Stabilizing the last rib during exhalation
Unfortunately, the QL is also capable of extending the lower back when the erector spinae are unable to facilitate this motion. Relative to the erector spinae, the quadratus lumborum suffers from a mechanical disadvantage when performing this movement, but for people who spend a great deal of time seated, the QL often functions in this capacity. This situation has the potential to lead to QL fatigue, and eventually muscle spasms. Rounding of the shoulders, or “hunching” of the neck, upper back, and shoulders can also worsen this problem.
Because the quadratus lumborum is a deep muscle, stretching it presents challenges. But in some cases, proper stretching of the QL can relieve lower back stiffness. Static stretching of the quadratus lumborum can be accomplished as shown in the featured image at the top of the post.
An variation of this stretch can be performed by allowing the lower body to hang off of a bed, as described on Floota.