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QL Trigger Points | What They Feel Like & How I Fixed Them

QL trigger points can be one of the biggest contributors to lower back problems. After suffering from QL trigger points for years, here is what I experienced and how I fixed them.

QL Trigger Points Referred Pain Pattern

Pain Pattern Of QL Trigger Points [1]


What Are QL Trigger Points?

QL trigger points are taught bands of constant strain in the Quadratus Lumborum, better known as the QL muscle [2]. These angry bands of muscle hold constant tension within the body until dealt with. This is a problem because QL trigger points can create muscular imbalances, impinge nerves, reduce mobility, and cause pain [1].

QL Trigger Points Back Hurts

A (Potential) Victim Of QL Trigger Points

Trigger points are also referred to as muscle knots, spasms, tension, or even tight muscle fibers. Regardless of the name, QL trigger points signify a tight clump of muscle that causes pain in and around the lower back.


What Do QL Trigger Points Feel Like?

In my experience, QL trigger points came alongside issues with other muscles so their effect was difficult to isolate. However, I can say confidently that I felt unstable and like I was walking on eggshells all the time. It felt like if I was not super careful with my lower back I would trigger pain.

Some additional symptoms I experienced were a nagging, dull lower back pain that never seemed to flee no matter what I did. This pain was present first thing in the morning and nagged all day. I also felt a general stiffness and weakness in my lower back - which I later learned was atrophy caused by a lack of ability to use my back muscles properly.

Here are symptoms of QL trigger points as researched by Clair and Amber Davies in source [2]:

  • Pain in the lower back, hips, and/or buttocks
  • Pain walking or standing for an extended time
  • Pain when leaning forward, worse when bending forward
  • Coughing or sneezing may trigger sharp QL pain
  • General reluctance to move out of fear or triggering pain
  • One hip hiked higher than the other


How To Release QL Trigger Points

The best way to resolve QL trigger points is with a physical deep-tissue massage. This can be done by the hands of a physical or massage therapist, or at home with a purposefully made QL release tool. The QL release tool I used and recommend is our own QL Claw, which we designed precisely for QL muscle release (as well as the release of the other 4 major back-pain-inducing muscles). Check out QL Claw and the QL release tutorial here:

QL Claw

QL Muscle Release

QL Trigger Points - QL Claw

QL Trigger Point Release Using QL Claw 


How To Avoid QL Trigger Points

As a preventative measure for lower back resilience, there are several exercises you can do to prevent QL trigger points in the future. This can be done by building strength and endurance in the glutes and lower back to avoid QL or other lower back trigger points from showing up. A few great QL strengthening exercises you can do are the following:

  1. Side Plank: Hop up on one elbow and hold for 1:00. If you can't hold for one minute, break up the set into 3x:20 or 2x:30. Work up to 1:30 for one set on one side of the body.
  2. Suitcase Carry: Grab one dumbbell or kettlebell that weighs around 25% of your body weight, and walk with it at your side. Walk with the weight for 1:00-1:30 per set while maintaining a strong, upright posture. 
  3. Overhead Paloff Press: Grab a band or cable and kneel on the ground, facing 90 degrees away from the band or cable anchor. Attach the band or cable at shoulder width, step away from the anchor to create some tension, and press overhead. Pause at the top and repeat for 12-15 reps per set on each side.


Thank you for reading about Quadratus Lumborum trigger points! Check out these articles next to master your lower back muscles and pain:






[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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