What is the Quadratus Lumborum Muscle & What is its Function?

The Quadratus Lumborum Muscle originates from either side of the lumbar spine. Quadratus Lumborum Muscle is referred to as the deepest abdominal muscle. The Quadratus Lumborum muscle begins at the last rib and inserts into the top portion of the pelvis. Since the pelvic region is one of the most used areas of the body, as it facilitates movements like walking, standing, and sitting, it becomes vulnerable to injuries with subsequent back pain. In fact, most of the cases of back pain are due to tightness and injury to the Quadratus Lumborum Muscle.

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Coming to the anatomy, the Quadratus Lumborum Muscle attaches to the transverse process, the posterior iliac crest, the lowest rib, and the iliolumbar ligament1. The function of the Quadratus Lumborum Muscle is to stabilize and facilitate movement of the pelvis and the lumbar spine. If an individual bends to the right while doing some exercise or any other activity, then only the right side of the Quadratus Lumborum Muscle is involved. Additionally, the Quadratus Lumborum Muscle also facilitates breathing by supporting the accessory muscles for expiration.

There may be various reasons for Quadratus Lumborum Muscle to become tight causing pain with the primary reason being stress, overuse and strain. In some cases, the muscles become too weak and thus cause pain. Activities like prolonged sitting can result in interrupted blood flow to the Quadratus Lumborum Muscle causing pain. Poor posture and repetitive bending and twisting also play a role in causing Quadratus Lumborum Muscle pain.

Quadratus Lumborum Muscle Function & Its Stretches

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Activities, such as sitting for long periods of time can reduce blood flow to an area, especially in the QL and surrounding areas. Weak back muscles and repetitive motions also cause pain and lead to poor posture. Leg length discrepancy is also believed to lead to tight Quadratus Lumborum Muscle and accompanying pain. An individual with a weak Quadratus Lumborum Muscle can practice the following stretching exercises to strengthen the muscle and get rid of pain caused due to Quadratus Lumborum Muscle tightness.

What Are Some of the Stretches For Quadratus Lumborum Muscle?

Quadratus Lumborum Muscle Stretches can be categorized into three subgroups: Light Stretch, Moderate Stretch, and Strong Stretch. For beginners, it is advised to start off with light stretches and then gradually move on to strong stretches to prevent the muscle from getting further damaged. The exercises for stretching the Quadratus Lumborum Muscle are:

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Light Stretches for Quadratus Lumborum Muscle

Knee-to-Chest Stretch for Quadratus Lumborum Muscle

How to do:

  • To do this stretch for Quadratus Lumborum muscle, you need to fist lie flat on the back.
  • Now fold the knees and bring them close to the chest. You can hold the knees with your arm for support.
  • Ensure that the knees and the legs are completely relaxed.
  • Now using the arms gently, move the folded knee away and towards the chest in a rocking motion.
  • This will involve the Quadratus Lumborum Muscle and get rid of any tightness present in it.

Child Pose Stretch for Quadratus Lumborum Muscle

How to Do:

  • Get down on all fours.
  • Ensure that the buttocks touch the ankles.
  • Now stretch your arms in front.
  • The back will now have the shape of an arch.
  • Stretch the arm as far as possible without any pain in the back.
  • This will stretch the Quadratus Lumborum Muscle and provide pain relief.

Side Tilting Stretch for Quadratus Lumborum Muscle

How to do:

  • Stand normally with the legs placed at arm’s length apart.
  • Now place the left hand on left waist and right hand above the head.
  • Now gently push the hip to the right.
  • Bend over to the right side until you feel a stretch.
  • Now repeat the same process on the opposite side.

Moderate Stretches for Quadratus Lumborum Muscle

Side Lying Stretch using Exercise Ball

How to do:

  • Lie on your side on an exercise ball.
  • Keep your feet near a wall to maintain balance.
  • Reach over with the arm on the upper side to feel the stretch on the Quadratus Lumborum Muscle.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Side Lying Stretch for Quadratus Lumborum Muscle

How to do:

  • Lie on the edge of a couch sideways.
  • Let one leg hang from the couch while the other leg should be rested on the couch.
  • Now in this position, lift the arm overhead and hold the edge of the couch with the hands.
  • Maintain this position until you feel a stretch.
  • Now repeat it with the other leg.
  • It should be mentioned that this stretch should only be done if there is no pain while doing it.

Wall Leaning Stretch for Quadratus Lumborum Muscle:

How to do:

  • For this Quadratus Lumborum Muscle stretch, you need to stand beside a wall so that your legs are arm’s length away from the wall.
  • Now lean the side of the body nearest to the wall, such that the waist touches the wall.
  • Maintain this position until you feel a stretch on the back and sides.
  • Now repeat the same process on the other side.

Strong Stretches for Quadratus Lumborum Muscle

Wall Stretching for Quadratus Lumborum Muscle

How to do:

  • To do this Quadratus Lumborum Muscle stretch, stand near a wall with the feet at arm’s length from the wall.
  • Now lift one hand up overhead and touch the wall. This will cause you to lean towards the wall resulting in a stretch.
  • Now place one leg in front of the other like taking a step. The back leg, the waist and the arm up overhead will make a curve.
  • Maintain this position for about 5 minutes.
  • Now repeat the same with the other side

Side Bending Stretch for Quadratus Lumborum Muscle:

How to do:

  • Stand upright with the feet at arm’s length from each other with the left foot positioned to the side.
  • Now stretch the arm and bend the left side of the body as much as possible without any pain.
  • The aim should be to get as close to the ankle as possible with the arm without bending the knee.
  • Ensure the body does not get rotated.
  • Maintain this position for about 3 minutes.
  • Repeat the same process on the other side.

References:  

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: August 7, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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