In our culture of sitting, low back pain is something everyone has experienced or knows someone who has.  One of the culprits of low back pain is the quadratus lumborum.  Although rather small, it’s a very powerful muscle that wraps around the lumbar spine and stabilizes it.  The overuse of this muscle shows up as low back pain and can radiate to the buttock muscles, IT band, hips, and sciatic nerve to name a few.  If we stood in tadasana to use the computer, the QL would be happier.  But we don’t.  We sit.  We sit some more.  And we sit some more.  When we leave the computer, we go sit in the car to drive to sit at Starbucks for coffee.  You get the idea.

This is a great muscle to get to know if you suffer from low back pain or know someone who does.  I broke down the quadratus lumborum by creating important information about the muscle using the actual name of the muscle.  Notice the YTU poses that will help the QL are at the end, since the last thing you read usually sticks ;-).  It’s also easy to find for future reference.  And without further ado, I introduce you to the QL.  May you have a long-lasting, HEALTHY relationship starting now.

Quadrilateral in shape, broader below than above.  Hides out below the erector spinae.

Used to elevate the hip when we walk, allowing the leg to swing through.

Anteriorly tilts the pelvis.  Abdominal muscle, rectus abdominus is on the opposite side of QL.

Deep!  One of the deepest muscles in the posterior trunk and forms part of abdominal wall.

Rounded shoulders and/or spinal kyphosis place extra stress on the QL by shifting body weight forward.

Assists in forced exhalation and inhalation by fixing the 12-th rib in place when diaphragm contracts.

Together with psoas major, the QL wraps around the lumbar spine, stabilizing it.

Used too much the QL becomes weak from constant contracting from sitting.

Strength and flexibility of QL and psoas are crucial for optimum movement and stability of spine.

(As does the QL, so does the psoas.  And vice versa.)

Laterally flexes the trunk/spine. QL inserts at lumbar vertebra 1-4 and the 12th rib.

Unilateral muscle-as one QL contracts, the opposite releases and lengthens.

Mechanical back support in chairs actually weakens QL.

Back of the pelvis, posterior iliac crest is where it attaches.

One YTU therapy ball on each QL for self-massage, relieves the muscle and connective tissues.

Ready?  Set?  Child’s pose!   YTU Twisted Child’s Pose, to be exact, is a great stretch for QL.

Unbelievably great for strengthening and lengthening QL is YTU Sidewinder Minivini.

Make YTU Boomerang Pose part of your daily routine to strengthen and lengthen QL.

I look forward to seeing you on the mat so we can explore the QL together and create a world with less back pain, one YTU class at a time.  Truth be told, the QL is connected to the thighbone and the thighbone is connected to the heart and lungs, and toes… it’s all connected.  The more we tune in, the more we can tune up.  🙂  Seriously.

Click here to find a class or workshop in your area.

Watch our lower back pain relief video on YouTube.

Read how to relieve back pain with a sidewinder tantrum.

Terry Littlefield

Terry Littlefield, RYT-500, Integrated Yoga Tune Up® teacher, and long-time practitioner, is a passionate educator with a big sense of humor and an even bigger heart. Her classes are a blend of science and spirit, breath work and ball work (Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls, of course), movement and meditation. If you want to have fun and experience safe, functional movement within your yoga practice, she’s your yogi.

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Shawn

Thank you for an easy to understand cause and effect of lower back/QL pain. Your acronym is amazing and covers so much information about where and what the QL does along with why is causes problems and how to go about fixing it. Bravo!

Sabrina godoy

I loved how you explaine QL, I’ll introdouce that information in my next classe.

Thank you

Véronique Lamothe

I am actually doing my level 1. I knew the QL before, but with YTU, I realize more and more of its important and the impacts it has in our body. I like the QL.