Quadratus Lumborum Anatomy

Low Back Pain Caused by the Quadratus Lumborum – QL Part I

In Blog by Andrew Dettelbach2 Comments

I’m not sure if people had back pain thousands of years ago when they were hunters and gatherers, but in today’s society filled with copious amounts of prolonged sitting, back pain has definitely crept its way into most of our lives. If you are like a majority of people in this modern world, you are probably suffering from low back pain, and that pain may be directly related to a pesky muscle called the quadratus lumborum.

In the first part of this three-part series, I’m going to talk about the many possible reasons why you might have low back pain, and what kind of pain you may be experiencing. For this particular series, I will only be focusing on low back pain caused by the quadratus lumborum muscle, as it is often completely overlooked.

What the heck is the Quadratus Lumborum?

First off, what is this excessively long-named quadratus lumborum (QL) muscle? It is a deep muscle on both sides of your low back that attaches the pelvis to each of your five lowest vertebrae, and also to your last rib. The muscle acts like a set of guide wires on a telephone pole, preventing you from falling over.

The QL muscle helps to stabilize, arch, rotate, and side-bend your spine, and when it gets tight, it can actually compress your spine. In the telephone pole scenario above, QL tightness would be the equivalent of ratcheting down each of the guide wires and driving the telephone pole into the Earth. Check out this video with Dr. Mike Wasilisin to understand more about this phenomenon.

Is the Quadratus Lumborum the cause of my pain?

How do you know that your quadratus lumborum is the cause of your low back pain? First, ask yourself what kind of pain you are having, and when it bothers you. Do you feel a sharp, dull, achy, stabbing, zinging, or throbbing pain? Does it hurt you while you are standing, sitting, sleeping, running, surfing, or hang gliding? In a majority of QL cases that we have seen, the QL muscle will often have an intense, dull, achy pain when sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time. With that being said, a large portion of society is probably complaining about this type of back pain because we are constantly sitting!

If your pain is similar to what I just described, you should probably consider shooting us an email. If your pain doesn’t match the description, the QL muscle often becomes spasmed or filled with scar tissue in a majority of other disc injury or joint injury cases. It may still be worthwhile for you to look into finding out how to release this muscle.

What’s next?

Stretch and Exercise! Whether or not you believe knots and adhesions in the quadratus lumborum muscle cause your pain, I suggest you try the exercises that I will be demonstrating in the next two blogs. I will talk about the importance of each exercise and how to apply them to your daily activities. I’m not going to talk about bicep curls and leg extensions; I’m going to talk about squats, deadlifts, core bracing, and lunges. When these exercises are done properly, they WILL save your back.

Comments

  1. Hi, I’m looking for help with a reoccurring quadratis lumborum strain. I’m a healthy 40+ male that was deep squatting 250 pounds last June and felt the knife. My leg tests have been negative for any type of disc problem but have had no MRI.

    1. Hi Jared,

      I would imagine that your movement patterns are a little funky! We have a free pain relief introduction program that has given people relief from their lower back pain. Ultimately, maintaining proper spinal positioning will be extremely beneficial for movements like squats, pull-ups, running, etc… this can be achieved through our online lower back pain relief program called the MoveU Method. Both the intro and the MoveU Method can be found here: https://moveumethod.com

      There are also numerous core, glute, and stability exercises in our free exercise library that will also prove to be helpful for you. https://moveu.com/exercise-library/

      – Andrew

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