The quadratus lumborum muscle, QL, is one of the primary origins of lower back pain. It plays an essential role in stabilizing our pelvis when we are upright and helps support our core.
Having tight or weak QL muscles can contribute to poor posture, lower back pain, and decreased performance.
Incorporating QL stretches and or exercises into your workout routine can help improve your flexibility and QL strength, giving your more freedom in your movement.
In this article, we will go over some reasons why we may have weak QLs and stretches that aim to improve the mobility of our quadratus lumborum.
What causes quadratus lumborum pain?
Discomfort in the QL can be usually caused by weakness, stress, and strain. Sometimes our muscles experience pain and stiffness when they’re weak or inflexible.
Things like constant sitting or a sedentary lifestyle can reduce blood flow to our body, especially in the QL and surrounding regions. Pain can also stem from repetitive inadequate motions and or weakness in the back.
All of these factors can make your movement improper, which can lead to more unnecessary tension. This can also lead to your QL muscles becoming tight because of forced overcompensation to stabilize your spine and torso. Pain in this area can also be from accidents and natural imbalances in your lower-back structure.
How is QL pain prevented?
The most effective way you can prevent quadratus lumborum pain is by keeping your body as flexible and strong as possible. Keep your body in optimal shape and utilize physical therapists and mobility specialists for accountability if you need further guidance.
It’s better to address pain before it arrives rather than handle it when it’s coming in full force. The QL stretches and exercises you’re performing should focus on stretching and strengthening the area surrounding your QL.
Movements like side bends are important to release additional tension and engage the side muscles. Do more exercises that lengthen the space between your ribs and pelvis. Mobility training, Pilates, and Tai chi are effective activities for strengthening the core.
Some other practical tips for preventing QL pain:
- Be mindful throughout your day and try to have good posture while standing, sitting, and driving.
- Make sure you’re using good form while lifting heavy objects.
- Don’t sleep in compromising positions. Sleep in a way that’s facilitative to reducing your back pain. Trust me when I say, more pillows are worth it.
QL stretches for alleviation
Before we dive into our stretches, it’s important to warm up before exercising. A warm-up, such as light cardio or dynamic stretching, can help increase blood flow and prepare your muscles for the workout ahead.
Seated crossover: Start by sitting down on your mat, crossing your right leg over your left leg, and placing your right foot on the ground adjacent to your left knee. Gently take your right arm and block your right knee while looking behind you. Hold for 20-30 secs. Repeat to the other side. Make sure your opposite arm is straightened to keep your back in a vertical position.
Standing side bend: From a standing position, raise your arms over your head and interlace your fingers. Through your feet, send your energy into the ground as you tilt to the right. You’ll feel a stretch from your hips to the tips of your fingers. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds focusing on deep breathing to expand your diaphragm. Repeat on the left side. Repeat about 2–4 times on each side. To deepen the stretch, hold one wrist with your opposite hand as you stretch, or cross one leg in front of the other.
Child’s pose: Among all of the QL stretches — Child’s pose is one of my favorites due to its simplicity. To perform this stretch, start on your hands and knees. Lower your hips back towards your heels and stretch your arms forward. This stretch can help release tension in your lower back, quads, knees, shoulders, and of course, the QL muscles.
Triangle pose: Stand with your feet wider than your hips. Raise your arms so they’re parallel to the floor, with your palms facing down. Hinge at your right hip as you extend your right fingers above your head and lower your left hand to your right foot. Turn your head upward facing the ceiling. Lengthen your spine as you engage your core and lower back muscles. Hold this position till your desired preference. Repeat on the other side.
Let’s not stretch this any further
In conclusion, incorporating QL stretches into your workout routine can help prevent injury, improve flexibility, and boost your overall performance.
Try implementing some of these QL stretches in your daily routine to make it easier to be consistent.
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No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other licensed clinicians.
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