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The Quadratus Lumborum: Muscle Stretches for Back Pain

For sufferers of back pain, it can be frustrating to try and zero in on the true source of the problem. Believe it or not, one of the common problem areas isn’t technically a back muscle. Rather, it’s a set of abdominal muscles (a pair on the left and right sides of your body) known as the quadratus lumborum, or QL. The QL runs from your lowest rib down to your pelvis, and as a part of your core, it plays a tremendous role in keeping you supported. Here are some quadratus lumborum stretches you can do to relieve pain and keep your back strong.

Knees to Chest This is one of the quadratus lumborum stretches that can target either one side of your body or both.

  • While lying on your back, bring your knees up and hug your knees towards your chest.

  • Keep your legs relaxed — The arms should be doing the work.

  • Gently rock your knees towards your chest, holding the pose for 20 to 30 seconds.

  • If you wish to focus on one side of the body, only bring one knee to the chest.

Child’s Pose Yoga poses like this make for effective quadratus lumborum stretches.

  • Sit on your completely bent legs, bringing your buttocks to the back of your ankles, resting your chest on your knees, and tucking your chin.

  • Stretch out both arms and place them in front of you.

  • Aim to round your lower back as much as possible, tucking your tail bone underneath you.

  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

Seated Side Bend For those with a lower range of motion, seated quadratus lumborum stretches are also available.

  • Sit cross-legged on the floor, sitting up straight as possible.

  • Raise your right arm and reach it over to your left side.

  • Lean your body to the left, feeling the stretch on the right side.

  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Standing Lower Back Stretch

  • Stand and spread your legs about three feet apart, turning your toes out slightly.

  • Keep your knees straight and bend forward at the hips, as far as possible.

  • Slowly allow your lower back to bend into a strong stretch. Avoid putting yourself in discomfort. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

Supine Rotation Stretch

  • Lie on your back, bending your knees and putting your feet flat on the floor. Rest your arms next to your sides.

  • Keep your shoulder blades on the ground and your knees together. Slowly lower your knees to one side until you feel a stretch in your lower back.

  • Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, then return your knees to the starting position. Switch sides to stretch your opposite quadratus lumborum.

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