The Quadratus Lumborum Muscle (QL)

The Quadratus Lumborum Muscle (QL)

Origin Iliolumbar ligament and internal lip of Posterior Iliac Crest
Insertion Medial half of lower border of 12th rib and tips of transverse processes of lumbar vertebrae
Nerve Pathway
  • Subcostal nerve (T12)
  • Iliohypogastric and Ilioinguinal nerve (both from L1)
  • Branches from the ventral rami (L2 and L3)
Blood Supply
  • Branches of the lumbar arteries
  • Branches of the subcostal artery
  • The lumbar branch of the iliolumbar artery
  • The arteria lumbalis ima from the median sacral artery
Actions Lateral Flexion and Extension of the lumbar Spine

Where is the Quadratus Lumborum?

The Quadratus Lumborum (or QL as it is usually abbreviated by physical therapists) is a lower back muscle that runs from your ilium to your lumbar vertebrae and lower ribs.

What Does the Quadratus Lumborum Do?

The quadratus lumborum allows you to bend sideways and extend your lower back. It also helps stabilise the lower ribs to assist the diaphragm with inhalation.

Why Does my Quadratus Lumborum Hurt?

Your QL may hurt due to a strain, trigger points, damage to the vertebrae, ribs or pelvis where the muscle is attached. Other factors may include muscle weakness, postural issues, previous trauma to the area and sitting for too long without a break.

What Causes Quadratus Lumborum Pain?

Some causes of QL pain include spasm, strain and postural stress. Attempting to lift a heavy weight in a compromising position may lead to a strain. Having to hold your body in uncomfortable positions for too long - think sitting in an office or being bent over for long periods of time without an adequate break - can lead to muscle spasm.

Why is My Quadratus Lumborum Tight?

Tightness in a muscle usually occurs when it is either contracted or tensed for too long. This is called chronic tension. If you tend to over-extend your spine then tension may build up in your lower back.

How Do I Release my QL?

The Quadratus Lumborum can develop trigger points and these can be released by a remedial massage therapist. You can also do some home treatment with a trigger point ball. You will find some stretches for the QL if you read a little further.

How Do I Strengthen the Quadratus Lumborum?

Exercising that extend or laterally flex the lower back will strengthen the QL. An excellent example of an exercise to extend the lower back is the deadlift. When done with good form, an appropriately weighted deadlift performed regularly can make your QL muscles very strong.

How Do I Stretch the Quadratus Lumborum Muscles?

In order to stretch a muscle, you need to perform the opposite action that the muscle performs. In this case you will need to flex the spine by performing some variation of a forward bend. In order to stretch the QL on each side of your body you will need to perform a side bend in the opposite direction. So, if you feel your left QL is tight then you would side bend to the right.