The larger ALPHA ball is perfect for QL massage

In my last post, I identified and located the quadratus lomborum (QL) and psoas major muscles, discussed why and how we can develop shortened or imbalanced psoas and practiced a few movements that can assist in countering its shortened length.

Years ago, I went to a massage therapist and shared with him my symptoms of persistent low-back discomfort. After his initial assessment, he recommended a psoas massage, which I had never heard of before and, with hesitation, agreed. It was quite painful and he performed the release with me in a number of different positions, from laying on my back to curled up in child’s pose. Once the massage was complete my back soreness disappeared and it left me bewildered. Remember the QL and psoas share the same attachment points at the transverse processes of the vertebrae of the lumbar spine? My shortened psoas was affecting my QL and therefore sending referral discomfort to my low back.

For this lower back self-massage we’ll use the Yoga Tune Up® ALPHA ball twin set and the classic size Therapy Balls. First the QL: Lay on your back and place the Alpha ball in the soft tissue area between your 12th rib and the top of your pelvis to the right of your spine. Roll onto the ball, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Stay here, for more pressure open your right knee and lay it on the floor. Then, either lay still or push into your left foot to hover your hips and move your pelvis forward and back and side-to-side. Repeat on the opposite side.

Next, for psoas self-massage, kneel and place your fingertips 2 inches to the right and left side of your navel. This is where the classic Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls will be placed to release the psoas major. Lay in sphinx pose on your stomach propped up on your forearms and place the balls, one at a time underneath you. Either remain on your forearms or lay all the way down, be still and breathe and allow the balls to penetrate as they navigate through the abdominal muscles and internal organs to reach the attachment of the psoas major to the anterior surfaces of the transverse processes of the vertebrae (T12-L5).

Access the psoas with sphinx pose

If you suffer from low back irritability maybe your psoas needs to be released. I’ve experienced much success with students and private clients using this technique as well. Perhaps it’ll help you too!

Enjoyed this article? Read Reorganize Your Psoas


Monica Bright

Monica’s passion in life is to teach. She holds an M.A. in Elementary Education and has spent a career of more than 15 years teaching young students, thus acquiring the skills to disseminate information in a clear and concise manner. With a dance background of more than 20 years and studying extensively in the area of biomechanics in movement and anatomy, Monica has a passion for the human body and understands the human form on a considerably deeper level, which you will find apparent in the intelligent sequencing of her classes.

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Nina T

Thanks for sharing this information. I am currently experiencing lower back pain and I have not researched other methods of relief except hamstring and hip stretches. I reviewed the attachment point to get a visual of what you are talking about and I’m now really excited to try this out and to feel the difference with my lower back pain, will keep you posted!

Shari Williams

Awesome Monica!
Thank you for this, i am currently working with a client with LB pain. I have recommended the QL release , but this one in Sphinx with the original balls is new to me!! so thanks a million. The YTU (R) community is full of some very creative and bright (HA!) practitioners.


I’m so excited to give this a try not only on myself but my husband as well. he’s suffered for years with low back pain. The description of ball placement was very easy to follow, Thank you!

Erika Mills

Thanks for sharing this information. I reviewed the attachment point to get a visual of what you are talking about and I’m now really excited to try this out and to feel the difference with my lower back pain, will keep you posted!


I had a similar experience with low back discomfort- I focused on rolling the QL with little focus on the PSOAS but I am interested to try the sphinx ball technique for PSOAS release. Thanks!


I’m so happy to read this post. I’ve suffered from low back pain for a long time! I’m excited to try this! Thanks for the post.


I love the YTU balls to get into the psoas. I find it to be less invasive/pokey than manual massage therapy techniques and you’re able to control amount of pressure by laying on the ball in sphinx pose. Thanks for the post!


This was very helpful as I have some twist to the spine. By rolling out with the alpha and tune up balls. Found this a very amazing relief !!

Katrina Sukola

This article was a light bulb moment for me. When students mention back pain, I think of rolling out the low back. The idea to release the psoas major, in a passive pose like sphinx pose never occurred to me. Low back issues are so common, I’m happy to add a new technique to my toolbox. Thank you!


I was experiencing left side low back and hip pain. After using my YTU balls and doing the Psoas and QL releases coupled by some Glute Medius and Max strengthening with a mini band, my pain went away. The release is great but I’ve found that you need to strengthen the supporting musculature as well. It’s ALL Good!

Kammy Fung

Never try the sphinx pose with the classic ball on the area to release the psoas. Can’t wait to try this technique. Thanks for sharing.


The psoas is so hard to get to! I appreciate this point of view – is there a way to do it with regular therapy balls? Maybe putting a yoga block under a ball to lay on top of it?

Janie Prince

Oh the pesky QL! During my level 1 training I learned that a major cause of my back pain is from a really tight QL. I am dealing with low back pain and I’m almost willing to try anything to make it better! Thank you so much for your massage tips! I honestly can’t wait to try rolling the psoas as well!

Lindsey Rockett

Hi Monica!

Thank you for sharing your experience and for this massage treatment.

Is there a Part 2 to your Psoas/QL article? Looking forward to reading more!


I love the alpha on the QL! I also have a very tight psoas and illiacus muscles and warm up the area by lying over the Coregeous ball placed below my naval and practicing abdominal breathing. I then move the ball to one side and take several deep breaths then begin to slowly roll across the ball before moving to the 2nd side. After this, I swap-out the Coregeous for the Alphas and place one just medial of the medial border of each illium. I slowly lower to lying onto my stomach, resume abdominal breathing then gently “wag my tail”… Read more »

Jane Thibodeau

I often find my psoas is tight from repetitive motions in running and cycling. I have found the therapy balls to be incredibly helpful in releasing these muscles, but sometimes find I don’t have enough time to do the whole sequence described in the Roll Model book. Thanks for providing a quick alternative that will be easy to fit into a busy schedule!

Izzy Leahy

I need to try this. It didn’t occur to me that the QL and psoas share the same attachment point – makes a lot of sense and sounds like a good place to start with my YTU balls. Transverse processes of the vertebrae of my lumbar spine, here I come!


While in law school I was very disciplined about my yoga practice, but failed to integrate needed stretches or bodywork as well. I was doing very athletic classes in the morning and then sitting in terrible chairs for hours each day. One day I had terrible low back pain, so much I couldn’t move. After massage and self diagnoses, I realized it was my psoas and QL. Both were getting beautiful release during the yoga, but then crammed for hours during the rest of the day. I have since incorporated the rolling and sitting on a ball at work to… Read more »


Thank you for sharing! I am always amazed by the relation each muscle have with one another, in this case the psoas and QL. Will definitely share this with my community.

Marie-Michelle Darveau

I often forgot to message my psoas cause its a strechy muscle on my body, but thats doesn’t mean that he is relax enought you it allow my QL to relax..


Pairing a these releases with a core strengthening exercise is a great way to correct muscular imbalances and support the spine.


Something to think about for my low back discomfort. Thanks

kaleen Lugo

Love love love these techniques. These are some problem areas for me as well. I haven’t worked out the QL with the Alpha ball yet, can’t wait to try!

Katelynn Corman

I similarly had constant low back pain before I discovered the ‘Alpha’ Ball in my QL! I fell in absolute love!
I have not tried the balls on my psoas in Sphinx pose yet, but I will tonight…Thanks for the post!


Thank you for this insight! My community perpetually asks for relief exercises for low back pain. There are a plethora of possible instigators, but, if tight Psoas and/or QLs are causing the funk, this can be one of THE best offerings! Major gratitude to you for posting!!

Isabelle P

Cant wait to try it personnally and after that integrate this move with my runners class. Thanks

Katiana Paré

I tried this and felt almost immediate relief in my low back as well. Thank you! Great explanation, I’ve never used the sphinx pose to release my psoas – it definitely intensifies the release.

Sarah Atkinson

I cant wait to try the psoas release with the classic ball. I am just discovering the relationship between my imbalanced pelvis the low back pain and my QL and Iliopsoas. I feel like the sidewinders and rolling are helping so much with the relief of my low back pain.


As a runner, the psoas is a muscle that often speaks to me … thank you for your. article

Anik B

I love to use UTY balls in my yin yoga class to add an other dimension to the pose. This is a good one.


Wow!! I just learned this briefly also today in YTU training. I can remember when I was recovering from a horrible back injury caused at work, I exhausted all of the PT, chiropractor and acupuncture and my back still was bad. They gave up on me and the Dr. told me to check my kidneys because there is no reason I should still have pain. I knew it was not my organs…Yoga has helped me recover, but I did not know the psoas had anything to do with it. My mom has chronic back pain, so instead of focusing on… Read more »


I will definitely have to try this! Thanks for the info!

Pascale hazledine

I played 2soccer games last night and woke up this morning with low back pain and a tight feeling in my hip flexor. I read your post and rolled out as explained the Ql and the back pain was gone and the hip felt better.then I played 2hours of touch rugby and had no problems running forward or backwards.this post certainly helped me and I will use it not only when there is a feeling of tightness or pain but also as a preventative measure.


Wow, it is amazing the way things are so connected in the body. I’ve noticed lately that my psoas is pretty tight, I think a psoas massage could really help and possibly affect other areas of the body as well. Great to keep in mind as a teacher as well.

Pascale hazledine

We just learned about the relationship between the Ql and the psoas and in our level one certification .this is a great refresher as I sit on the bus on the way to class.i also liked the addition of the sphinx posture on the balls since it facilitates spinal and hip extension something we all need to counter the effects of sitting.

Marina Flaks

Thanks for this post and information. My husband suffers from constant low back pain. Doctors could not find the reason .
I will try this massage on him , who knows maybe he also has an imbalanced psoas.

Elaine Miller

the tune up balls have been a great addition to treating these conditions. I myself (RMT)have benefited from self care with the alpha ball and the more I use it the strain in my lower back has almost disappeared. having experiencing both psosas and QL issues myself has helped me work with many clients and setting a good example gives them hope.

Lyndsey Hill

Being an RMT, I frequently will suggest a poses massage to my clients with low back discomfort and have found great results for them. It is not the most comfortable massage but if you can bare the discomfort and awkward positions, you may find this to be more helpful in relieving some or all of your low back discomfort.


I love this post so much! Thank you! Over the last months, I’ve really delved more deeply into understanding the psoas and QL relationship. I’ve also learned that “tight” doesn’t necessarily mean it needs stretched. Sometimes a muscle can be “tight” (aka: shortened) and also weak. Using the Alpha ball in the psoas (and QL) feels AMAZING, but I also love the biofeedback it gives me and knowing where my Psoas and QL are in relationship to one another. I’ve also explored a lot with pelvic tilt and how it affects these two muscle relationships. Thank you for sharing!


I am an RMT and often work to release psoas tension to alleviate clients low back tension, but rarely ask my colleagues to work on this area for me, even though I know the benefits. I like using the alpha ball as well for self massage through the QL, as well as the corgeous ball for the deeper hip flexor release.

Kelly Paige

I tried the excerices outlined in this post. First I reading the authors previous post in order to correctly locate my psoas & QL. Understanding the connection and location along the inside of the hips and abdomen aided in my therapy ball use. I have always had a nagging pain I can not stretch or release. With these exercises I was finally able to release my psoas and QL. Amazing.


Great can’t wait to try the psoas release with ball rolling! And of course on the Ql


This release was very helpful after gardening, thank you!

Ranghild Helmberger

After doing this QL release my lower back feels great. Good to know that not only the psoas has to be released!


love this! i have used sphinx to release the psoas often but never thought to go to the QL

Juan Pablo

I tried this today, I felt a good release in lower back. Thank you!

Monica Bright

Juliana, yes! You are correct. You’ll place the ball under the right QL and then turn both knees up, then open the right knee so more weight rests on the Alpha ball.

Juliana A.

Just to clarify-place the ball to the right of the spine and then drop the right knee. In the first picture, the ball is to the right of the spine, but the left knee is dropped. Is this just for the article so we can see the ball better or am I understanding this incorrectly? Thank you:)


I have used this roll out on myself and in many classes. Time to put it back in! I will share your story with my clients too! This roll out sequence actually helped me relieve neck and upper back pain too!


The psoas and QL are deep muscles, and i’m always searching for techniques to release them. I specially love your sphinx pose to release the psoas.. I’ve got very tight psoas myself, so I’m really enjoying this!