Quadratus Lumborum
& Lower Back Pain

What is the Quadratus Lumborum?

The Quadratus Lumborum (QL) is a deep muscle that runs on both sides of the lower back. The muscle begins on the lowest rib and the nearby vertebra, and connects to the hip crests. The QL is responsible for stabilizing the lower back while upright, and also has a role in side bending.

Either one or both of the QL muscles can tighten and close the distance between the rib and the hip crest. This compresses the affected side of the spine and everything in its path, which include discs, joints, and nerves. Most often, the symptoms from the disc, joint, and nerve are not felt, but the pure QL muscle pain from the tightness and adhesions are, which is what people are suffering from

The Quadratus Lumborum muscle is the most overlooked muscle in back pain.

Muscle Symptoms & Diagnosis

The most common symptoms of pure Quadratus Lumborum (QL) muscle pain are:

  • A deep aching pain in one or both sides of the lower back.
  • Back pain that worsens with prolonged sitting.
  • Back pain that worsens when transitioning from sitting to standing.
  • Stiffness and back pain when rising from bed in the morning.

If the QL pain is very severe, symptoms may radiate down the side of the thigh and across to the front of the thigh in the quad region. The most likely cause of adhesions and pain in the QL muscle are improper body mechanics, improperly healed muscle strains, excessive sitting, and improper stretching of the QL.

Currently, there are no reliable imaging techniques that can diagnose QL muscle pain, however, the QL can be accurately diagnosed through manual palpation of the muscle and a certain set of symptoms.

The QL can be accurately diagnosed through manual palpation.

The best QL pain treatment

The Quadratus Lumborum (QL) muscle is the most overlooked muscle in back pain, because there are currently no imaging studies (MRI, xray, CT, ultrasound) that can diagnose the muscle. The fact that the muscle lies 2-3 dz deep in the lower back is another contributing factor that makes it nearly impossible to effectively target through deep tissue massage or even through the most effective instrument-assisted soft-tissue mechanical devices on the market.

Over the past 6 years we have developed the most effective system to resolving QL muscle related back pain. This includes a specific set of warm-up exercises and stretches, dysfunctional movement correction, and intensive deep tissue therapy through our proprietary “Drill”, followed by a clinician assisted stretch. We have found that by continuing this process for 4-8 consecutive weeks, not only will the damaged tissue begin to soften, but it will also begin to correct the broken movement patterns that caused or worsened your symptoms.

Learn how we initially begin to soften the Quadratus Lumborum through very deep tissue therapy.

We have developed the most effective system to resolving QL muscle related back pain.

QL Pain Prevention & Stretching

A tight Quadratus Lumborum (QL) muscle will compress the affected side of the spine, which can result in joint pain, disc pain, or postural dysfunction. Clinical data suggests that a tight QL is often found in patients presenting a posteriorly (or backwards) tilted pelvis. Forward tilt is associated with joint pain.

Proper mobility and stability exercises will help improve this imbalance and lead to long-term results. A sidenote is that QL pain can often appear as disc pain, whereas the patient feels a radiating pain wrapping around from the upper and outer thigh across to the front of the thigh. This is called pseudo-sciatica, and is actually a referral pain from the QL muscle.

  • Avoid sitting as much as possible. This includes exercising in a seated position.
  • 10 minutes of light to moderate cardio (row, jog, air squats, etc.) will properly warm the low back and improve the efficiency of your stretching.
  • Perform the QL stretch for 10 minutes per day with our level 1 or level 2 stretch.
  • Self-massage the QL muscle with a lacrosse ball for 5 minutes per day.
  • Practice the pelvic sequence and apply it to every bending motion throughout your day.