About the Quadratus Lumborum (QL) Muscle

What is the QL muscle?

The Quadratus Lumborum is a thick, deep muscle that connects the Iliac Crest to the 12th rib in the lumbar spine region. The QL muscle also has muscle fibers connecting from the Iliac Crest to lumbar vertebrae, which cross-cross with muscle fibers running from the 12th rib to lumbar vertebrae. It lies beneath the Latissimus Dorsi and Erector Spinae muscles, and is difficult to access with a foam roller or lacrosse ball.

Quadratus Lumborum Anatomy

 

The QL is incredibly powerful. Since it is so structural, it is constantly active - even when sitting and standing. However, it is most active when bending over, carrying uneven load, and performing explosive full body movements. The QL tends to be hyperactive in people who engage in high impact sport and heavy lifting

Once the Quadratus Lumborum has relaxed, it is important to strengthen it to stabilize the spine and improve overall strength capacity. One QL contracting in isolation laterally bends the spine, while both QLs contracting together extend the spine. Three great QL strengthening exercises are:

  • Suitcase Carry
  • Side Hyperextension
  • Side Plank

In addition to these three exercises, deadlifts, jumps, and sports containing agile movement naturally demand sturdy QLs. Do not push into higher impact movements if pain persists - pain free movement will come with patience and consistency.