The Quadratus Lumborum (QL) muscle is a deep muscle in the lower back that can become very tight and knotted. It usually exhibits a dull, achy pain after standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time. Read our last blog for an introduction to and detailed information about the quadratus lumborum muscle.
How do I Get Rid of this QL Pain?
In part 2 of this 3-part series, we will be going over several at-home pain relief exercises which can lengthen and relax the QL muscle. Before we dive into these exercises though, we will discuss some background as to how we would treat this condition in our office in an extremely effective manner.
Since you may not be a patient of ours, we will cover the best and simplest exercises to treat your own QL muscle tightness. These pain-relief exercises are taught to our patients daily, and are often combined with strength exercises, massages, and adjustments. In our office, we use deep-tissue massage along with several other tools that are much more powerful than our hands (power tools!). This process can briefly be quite painful for the patient, but the muscle tissue does loosen immediately.
The Pain Relief Exercises!
Pelvic tilts are extremely important for understanding your posture. About 50% of our patients cannot even perform this simple task! Many patients with QL muscle pain are already standing like the picture on the left. These movements will help loosen up your joints as well as the muscles of the hips and low back. Rock your hips forward and backward slowly in each the standing and the ¼ squat position. Do 2 sets of 20 reps in each position.
Hip Flexor Stretch
This stretch is a go-to for all types of back pain. The hip flexor muscles can get very tight due to excessive sitting and will compress the spine, pulling your hips into a similar position as the top left photo above.
Hold this stretch as shown to the right for two minutes, twice on each side. Use a chair or pole to stabilize yourself if you have trouble balancing.
This is an awesome self-massage technique for your QL muscle. Lying on your back, place the lacrosse ball about 2 or 3 inches to the left or right of your spine. On the same side as the ball, pull your knee to your chest and curl your chest toward your knee. Lean your whole body toward the same side as the ball. Hold this for 2-3 minutes per side.
As shown to the right, hold this stretch for 2 minutes on each side. To intensify the stretch in the lower back, grab onto your ankle and pull your chest to your knee. You should feel a stretch in the lower back. Slightly bend your knee if you feel the stretch more in your hamstrings than in your lower back.
Sitting vs. Standing?!
Finally, if you are sitting most of the day at work, we highly recommend these cheap DIY standing desk alternatives to help relieve pressure on your lower back and improve posture. If you have any questions abut the QL muscle or any of these exercises, send us an email or leave a comment below!