Low Back Pain & the QL

     Chronic Low back pain is a complaint I hear from clients all the time. Heavy lifting, bending over or simply sitting at a desk all day can lead to Chronic Pain. One common cause of low back pain is tightness in the Quadratus Lumborum (QL) Muscles of the low back.

     The Quadratus (square) Lumborum (lumbar) is a square shaped muscle which runs from the lower border of the rib cage to the upper border of the hip and connects all along the spine, one on each side of the low back. These low back muscles work hard all the time to maintain pelvic and spinal balance. Often at odds with other muscles because of structural imbalances the QL can become chronically tight. The QL can also develop triggerpoints in the middle and upper portions of the muscle, which will radiate pain into the lower lumbar, sacrum, sometimes even the pelvis and abdomen.

     The way to correct the problem is to identify the structural imbalance and implement a therapy plan so that balance can be achieved. A good therapist using Medical Massage or Sports Massage can help work with Chronic low back pain. For more immediate relief you can work on the triggerpoints yourself.

     Get a tennis ball and put it on the floor and lay on it so that it is under your low back just below where the rib cage starts and a little (1-2 inches) out from the spine. Bend your knees so that your low back flattens onto the floor and into the ball. Being careful not to bruise the spine or ribs, roll around on the ball in the area until you feel a spot that is hard and radiates pain downward towards the sacrum or around to the front of the pelvis. Once you have found the triggerpoint try to find the middle of it, where it generates the most pain and hold that spot. Try to breathe and relax into the point allowing it to let go. As the point relaxes you can tighten the muscle right into the tennis ball then release, allowing the ball to sink deeper into the muscle creating even more release.

     Often there will be more than one triggerpoint so once you have released one, roll around on the ball to find others. Be sure to work both sides of the back even if only one side actually hurts. You will be surprised at what you may find on your ‘good side’.

     At first this may cause some muscle soreness. Drink plenty of water and have a hot Epsom salt bath (at least 3-4 cups salt). Gentle movement and stretching will help to reduce muscle soreness as well. Regular treatments will eventually work out all of the triggerpoints and help the muscle return to normal function. You may find that after a while you want to graduate to using a softball for a deeper, broader pressure, or a baseball for a harder more specific pressure, once using the tennis ball becomes easy.

     Low back pain can be caused by a variety of different issues. Be sure to consult your doctor or chiropractor if you suspect injury or illness.