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QL Muscle Release

The QL muscle can produce a ton of low back pain when tight. Fortunately, QL muscle release can be done inexpensively, non-invasively, and in the comfort of your own home. QL muscle release may be the missing link between you and a pain free low back [1].

QL Muscle Anatomy

Anatomy: The QL (Quadratus Lumborum) muscle is a deep low back muscle, and is sometimes considered the deepest abdominal muscle. The QL connects from the top of the hip (Iliac Crest) to the bottom of the ribcage (12th rib) and also connects to the lumbar vertebrae in criss-cross like patterns [1]. QL lies underneath two large back muscle groups - the spinal erectors and Latissimus Dorsi ("Lats" for short).

ql muscle release anatomy

Quadratus Lumborum (QL) Muscle
Function: The QL muscle's two main functions are 1) side bend the spine, and 2) stabilize the lower spine [1].
QL works hard during high impact sports due it its critical spinal stability function. Athletes in sports like football, basketball, and hockey tend to have very well-developed, strong QL muscles. Athletes in these sports also may be subject to QL overuse because QL works all the time during these activities. Without a QL muscle you would not be able to cut laterally in basketball, tackle an opponent in football, or even carry a suitcase with one arm. 

QL Muscle Release - Pain Symptoms

QL muscle pain is commonly found to be a contributing factor in patients who report nonspecific low back pain [1]. Patients with tightness and trigger points in their QL muscle(s) may experience increased pain in positions that require spinal stabilization, such as when carrying an uneven object or when balancing [1]. Patients also may report low back pain when ascending or descending stairs [1].

Additional QL muscle pain symptoms may include:

  • Difficultly hip hiking
  • Difficultly lifting an object that should be easy
  • Pain when participating in sports with lateral movement
  • Back pain from sitting (especially slouching) for long periods of time

QL Muscle Release - Pain Patterns

Quadratus Lumborum pain will generally feel like nonspecific pain and weakness in the low back. However, the QL muscle can refer pain to other areas of the body as well. The bright red regions in the image below indicate where pain can arise when QL muscle trigger points are present [1]. If pain is felt in the tailbone, upper hip/glute, or any of the bright red areas below, ql muscle release may be the ticket for pain relief.

ql muscle release pain patterns

QL Muscle Pain Patterns [1]

QL Muscle Release - How To

QL muscle release is impossible (or at best, very difficult) with traditional massage products. Foam rollers have no shot, and most massage balls are too large to effectively access and release the QL muscle. It is for this reason we created QL Claw - to easily and effectively release the QL muscle. QL Claw is perfect for QL muscle release: all you do is lay on it and let your breath and light motion work the muscle.

ql muscle release

QL Muscle Release Using QL Claw

QL Claw is not limited to QL muscle release, it was designed to release all 5 muscles that contribute to low back pain when tight. QL Claw is also not some cheap, hollow plastic product. The Claw is a dense, forgiving device that is the perfect material for comfortable deep tissue massage. Check out QL Claw at the link below!


QL Muscle Strengthening

After effective QL muscle release, it can be beneficial to strengthen the QL muscle to improve spinal durability. It is important to release the QL muscle before strengthening it because strengthening will not remove the constant muscle tension brought on by trigger points and tightness.

A few great moves to strengthen the QL muscle:

  • Side Planks
  • Side Hyperextensions
  • Suitcase Carries (One Arm Farmer's Carries)




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

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