CHARLOTTE, NC – The quadratus lumborum (we’ll refer to it as the QL) is extremely important when we talk about our core muscles. This relatively small muscle will jack you up, literally, when it’s tight, overworked or weak.
Where’s it located? If you’ll put your hands on your sides, right under your ribcage, your thumbs, will be near the QL, next to the spine. The attachments are the iliac crest up to your bottom rib, then directly to the transverse processes of your spine, specifically L1 – L4. A fun fact is that it’s referred to as a back muscle because it’s easily palpated while laying on your side or lying on your stomach, but it’s actually a deep abdominal muscle.
What does the QL do? It stabilizes your ribs when you breathe in and out, but even more importantly, it helps with the stabilization of your pelvis and spine. If you bend over to one side, this activates one of the QL’s.
Massage does wonders for these powerful muscles. They are easily palpated (touched) and your therapist can easily get these muscles to relax and perhaps make them more malleable. This in turn can make you feel better almost instantly. Clients that get off the table after having QL trouble can twist and turn their upper body with greater ease and feel relief in their lower backs. The QL also responds well to stretching.
Next week we’ll talk about your core and how massage can help while strengthening or maintaining these important muscles.