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Lower Back Trigger Points - A Key To Lower Back Pain Relief

Trigger points are one way to describe the mysterious, painful phenomena of muscle pain. When trigger points are present, your muscles constantly pull on your joints and can produce a ton of pain in the body - especially in the lower back. Effective trigger point release of a few specific muscles could be the missing link between you and a pain free lower back.

Lower Back Trigger Point Pain Pattern [1]
 

Lower Back Trigger Points: The Pain Mechanism

What is a trigger point? As described by the great Travell and Simons, the trigger point therapy poineers and authors of Myofascial Pain and Disfunction, a trigger point is "a hyperirritable spot in skeletal muscle that is associated with a hypersensitive palpable nodule in a taut band. This spot is painful on compression and can give rise to characteristic referred pain, referred tenderness, motor dysfunction, and autonomic phenomena." [2] In layman terms this means a trigger point is an angry knot in muscles that can cause pain locally or referred pain elsewhere in the body. [1]

There are a few particular muscles (5 to be exact) that can contribute to lower back pain when trigger points are present, and this article will describe what they are and how to release them. It may surprise you that of these 5 muscles, only 1 is local to the lower back - the rest refer pain from unsuspecting places.

The 5 Lower Back Pain Trigger Point Muscles

There are 5 main muscles that can cause lower back pain when tight with trigger points - Quadratus Lumborum (QL), Psoas, Iliacus, Gluteus Medius, and Piriformis. Each of these can refer pain via a different mechanism to the lower back, but all you need to know is what they are, what their pain patterns look like, and how to release them. The remainder of this post will be about the 5 muscles.

Lower Back Trigger Point Muscles And Their Pains

Muscle 1: Quadratus Lumbroum (QL)

Up first we have the one muscle that can contribute to lower back pain that actually lives in the lower back - Quadratus Lumborum (QL). The QL muscle lies deep in the lower back on both sides of the spine, and it can create the gnarly pain pattern below when trigger points are present.

quadratus lumborum trigger points

Quadratus Lumborum Referred Pain Pattern [1]

Quadratus Lumborum Release

Muscles 2 & 3: Psoas and Iliacus

Up next are the two hip flexor muscles in the front of the body that can contribute to a ton of lower back pain when tight - Psoas and Iliacus (Iliopsoas). These two muscles are often referred to together as the Iliopsoas complex because they function and cause pain in the same way. Both of these muscles tends to get chronically tight from excess sitting and can refer a ton of pain to the lower back in the process. 

iliopsoas lower back pain trigger points

Iliopsoas Referred Pain Pattern [1]

Psoas & Iliacus Release

Muscle 4: Gluteus Medius

Gluteus Medius is a lesser known perpetrator of lower back pain when trigger points are present. Gluteus Medius is an upper buttock muscle, and one that can wreak havoc on the lower back when tight. The pain pattern below illustrates what Gluteus Medius can do the body with its trigger points.

gluteus medius low back trigger points

Gluteus Medius Referred Pain Pattern [1]

Gluteus Medius Release

Muscle 5: Piriformis

The Piriformis muscle is a small deep glute that can cause a lot of pain in the outer glute and tailbone when trigger points are present. The pain caused by Piriformis can feel more like buttock or tailbone pain, but some characterize this pain as in the lower back.

piriformis lower back trigger points

Piriformis Referred Pain Pattern [1]

Piriformis Release

How To Release Lower Back Trigger Points

At this point you may be overwhelmed or have no clue what to do next. Look no further, I have taken care of the lower back trigger point fix for you.

Allow me to introduce QL Claw - the only massage therapy tool designed specifically to release all 5 of these lower back pain inducing muscles. QL Claw is a deep tissue, trigger point release tool that you can use on yourself whenever and wherever you need it. Learn more about QL Claw and its magic on lower back trigger points below!

 
  

Lower Back Trigger Points - Video Summary

The topic of lower back pain from trigger points in video format: 

 
 

Sources/Influences:

[1] Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.

[2] Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.

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