Lower back muscle spasms are the worst. Spasms in the lower back can make every slight movement painful, and severely hinder your life. In this post we're going to discuss why the lower back falls into spasm, and also learn about a few muscles that can lock up when the lower back is in spasm.
Spasming Lower Back Muscles
When the lower back is in spasm, it can feel like every muscle is as hard as a rock. Even worse, it can feel like there is no way out of spasm. This article sheds light on why the lower back can spasm, and a few muscles that may be contributing to the pain caused by spasm.
Why Lower Back Muscles Spasm
Lower back muscles spasm as a protective mechanism against spinal damage. If the lower back is under extreme stress, certain muscles can tense up to prevent structural damage to the spine. A lower back spasm event can be triggered a variety of ways, but most can be placed into two buckets: spasms from a single event and spasms from accumulated stress.
The first bucket - spasm from a single event - happens from one extreme, high-impact event. These events can include (but are not limited to) a car crash, lifting a very heavy object, or jumping off of a building. When lower back spasms occur from a single event, the causal event is quite easy to identify.
The second bucket - spasm from accumulated stress - happens over a long period of time. A few examples of this include perpetually slouching at a desk, consistently lifting weights with poor form, or repeated stress from a manual labor job. These spasms can be harder to identify, because everything is all fine and dandy until BOOM your lower back is at an 8/10 of pain. This can be triggered by something light like picking up a sock off the ground, but that is just the straw that broke the camel's back (or your back).
The Lower Back Muscles In Spasm
There are 4 muscles that I personally had issues with when my lower back was in spasm - and I'm going to cover them all here. This is not to be taken as medical advice, but rather an experience that could shed light on what appears to be the inexplicable, phantom pain that is lower back spasms.
Quadratus Lumborum (QL):
The Quadratus Lumborum (QL) muscle lies deep in the lower back and is crucial in spinal stability. QL loves to lock up when the integrity of the spine is at risk, because its spasm can keep the spine stiff and safe from damage.
The Gluteus Medius muscle is the upper-side Glute muscle on the back of the body. Gluteus Medius helps stabilize the pelvis, and can lock up during spasm from a single event. Gluteus Medius is also involved in lifting objects, so a lifting induced injury may have something to do with this muscle.
The Psoas muscle and back pain go together like Tom Brady and Super Bowl wins. Everyone hates it, but it is predictable and they always seem to go hand in hand. Psoas is a hip flexor muscle that connects to the lumbar vertebrae, and can lock up to restrict the lower back's mobility in times of stress.
Iliacus pain is nearly identical to that of Psoas. Iliacus is also a hip flexor muscle, but it connects to the pelvis instead of the lumbar spine.
Release Of Lower Back Muscles In Spasm
There is only one tool on the market that can perform effective deep tissue massage to all 4 muscles described above - and that is QL Claw. I created QL Claw because I had years of tightness and problems with these muscles, and I could not find a tool to effectively release them through massage. With QL Claw you can give yourself a deep, therapeutic massage directly to those hard to reach muscles that need it. Check out QL Claw at the link below!
 Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.
 Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.