Introducing the low back muscle that can contribute to a host of low back and hip issues: Quadratus Lumborum (QL). Scroll down to learn about the QL muscle, the pain it can cause, and how to release it - or stay right here for our step-by-step QL muscle release tutorial.
The QL muscle gets overworked in activities that require spinal stability. Athletes and labor workers respond well to QL muscle release. Massage the QL if you are active in high-impact sports or are physically active at your day job.
QL Muscle Release Placement:
QL Muscle Release Video Walkthrough:
Target: Quadratus Lumborum
Check out anatomical considerations here: The QL Muscle
QL Muscle Release - Written Instructions
Quadratus Lumborum Placement: Place the Claw perpendicular to your spine, between the top of your pelvis and the lowest rib. To locate the QL muscle, lay supine (on your back) on the floor and hike one hip up towards the ribcage. The muscle that just did work is the Quadratus Lumborum.
*images below are for a right Quadratus Lumborum muscle release*
QL Muscle Release Level 1: The Starter
Don't be a hero, start here. Get comfortable breathing in this position at a cadence of 5 seconds in, and 5 seconds out before moving on. The QL is more likely to release and relax if your body's physiology is relaxed.
QL Muscle Release Level 2: The Digger
For a deeper massage, tilt your non-trigger-side leg towards the trigger side. This position shifts your center of mass towards the trigger, which results in more pressure on the QL muscle.
QL Muscle Release Level 3: The Bruiser
This level is for pain-seeking masochists, with Quadratus Lumborum muscles made of wood. Don't do level 3 in front of too many people or you'll be put on a list.
QL Muscle Release Level 4: The No-fly List
For an even DEEPER massage, assume the level 3 position and slowly crunch your core - so that your head and shoulders lift off the ground. We couldn't find a guy who could tolerate this, so level 4 is not pictured.
How to know you've released a trigger point: When you release a knot/trigger point, you will feel the muscle give and will simultaneously feel the device sink into your body. A massage generally feels less painful under higher pressure once a trigger point is released.
QL Muscle Anatomy
Anatomy: The QL 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 . QL lies underneath two large back muscle groups - the spinal erectors and Latissimus Dorsi ("Lats" for short). See Back Muscle Anatomy for a full diagram.
QL Muscle Release - Pain Symptoms
QL muscle pain is commonly found to be a contributing factor in patients who report nonspecific low back pain . 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 . Patients also may report low back pain when ascending or descending stairs .
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
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 . 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 Pain Patterns 
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 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)
- Banded Paloff Press
- *Full QL Strengthening Exercises guide here
Check out our tutorials for releasing other low back pain-inducing muscles 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.