Quadratus Lumborum Stretch (DO’S AND DON’TS!)

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The quadratus lumborum is one of those muscles that often gets overlooked and it ends up wreaking havoc on your training. This deep back muscle has major implications on your training when it isn’t properly stretched and released. In this video, I will show you the best way to stretch the quadratus and how to make sure the muscle doesn’t get tight. I will also show you why trying to foam roll this muscle is one of the worst things you can do in trying to fix it.

The quadratus lumborum is a muscle that has attachments to the rib cage, lumbar spine and pelvis. You can see just by where it is attaching that it can have some major influence on your posture and safety of your lower back and entire torso. Its main function is to either hike up the hip if you keep the torso fixed or to bend to one side if you keep the legs fixed.

When the QL gets tight you will most often create a pelvis that is tilted up on the tight side. This can be a major problem when you try and squat or deadlift with a pelvis that is tilted. Your ability to distribute weight evenly through your feet is greatly impacted as is your ability to generate equal force. You wind up trying to pull or push asymmetrically which places a great deal of torque on the lumber spine.

Injuries to the lower back happen most often because of a dysfunctional quadratus lumborum that is already present. This muscle tends to get easily tightened because of the positions we place ourselves in during sleep or while sitting. Both of these activities occupy a great deal of time during a single 24 hour cycle. If you lie on your side at night you tend to tighten the QL on the side that is facing up. Also, if you sit on one cheek for the majority of the day, the quadratus on that side will tend to get very tight.

Regardless of what is causing your tightness however, you will need to work on stretching the QL while also mobilizing the tissue itself to improve its quality and pliability. You can use a lacrosse ball or even a fat grip to get into the area of tightness. Here you want to floss the muscle back and forth through the compressed area to help break up any adhesions that have formed in the muscle belly far away from the origins or insertions.

Using a foam roller to get at this muscle is nearly impossible. Not only is this muscle deep in the lower back but it is also rather small and unlikely to be pin pointed without over involvement of the structures around the quadratus. For instance, rolling will likely wind up hitting the lower ribs or even worse, the lumber spine itself. This is one of the worst things you can do as both are likely to either cause further spasm or create a discomfort that prevents you from being able to relax and truly release the muscle.

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