If you work in an office and spend the majority of your day sitting down, you are probably not a stranger to back pain. Sitting at a desk for eight hours a day can led to stiffness and tension of the quadratus lumborum muscle that causes serious discomfort while working. If your job requires you to twist or bend frequently, you may be at even higher risk of developing back pain.
The Quadratus Lumborum (QL) is a deep muscle that runs on both sides of the lower back. The muscle begins on the lowest rib and the nearby vertebra, and connects to the hip crests. The QL is responsible for stabilizing the lower back while upright, and also has a role in side bending. Either one or both of the QL muscles can tighten and close the distance between the rib and the hip crest. This compresses the affected side of the spine and everything in its path, which include discs, joints, and nerves. Most often, the symptoms from the disc, joint, and nerve are not felt, but the pure QL muscle pain from the tightness and adhesions are, which is what people are suffering from.
It’s common to have pain here because you use this muscle to sit, stand, and walk. The QL is one of the prime sources of lower back pain and can have an effect on your physical well-being. Pain in the quadratus lumborum can be due to overuse, stress, and strain. Sometimes muscles cause pain and stiffness when they’re weak or too tight. Activities such as sitting for long periods of time can reduce blood flow to an area, especially in the QL and surrounding areas. Pain can also result from repetitive motions and weak back muscles, which lead to poor posture.
All of these factors can make you twist, bend, or lift improperly, which creates more tension. It can also lead to your QL becoming too tight if it has to overcompensate to stabilize your spine and pelvis. Pain in this area can also be due to accidents and unequal leg length. If you don’t treat QL pain, it can result in stress to other areas of your body. Once your body compensates to support one part that isn’t symmetrical, additional imbalances and misalignments can occur. The pain can become more severe and spread to other areas of your body.
Trigger points and pain
A trigger point is an area of your body that may produce pain when it’s stimulated. Trigger points are made up of stressed or injured muscles that cause pain and tightness. Quadratus lumborum trigger points may be to blame for a deep ache in your lower back or a stabbing pain in your hips or pelvis. They can also be the reason you might feel sharp pain when the QL contracts while you’re coughing or sneezing.
Pain in the quadratus lumborum may potentially cause:
- pain in your hip joints, buttocks, and thighs
- pain in your sacroiliac joint
- low back pain
- abdominal pain
How is quadratus lumborum pain prevented?
You can prevent quadratus lumborum pain by keeping your body as fit as possible. Stay in shape and consider seeing some type of movement therapist to keep your body aligned. Treat pain as soon as it begins so that it doesn’t get any worse. Perform movements that focus on stretching and strengthening the area. Side bends and stretches are important to release back tension and engage the side muscles. Do some yoga asana that will lengthen the space between your ribs and pelvis.
- Balasana (Child pose)
From a kneeling position, the toes and knees are together with most of the weight of the body resting on the heels of the feet. The arms are extended back resting alongside the legs. The forehead rests softly onto the earth. The gaze is down and inward. This asana helps to gently stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles. Relieves back and neck pain when done with head and torso supported.
- Vakrasana (Twisted Pose)
From a seated position stretching your legs forward on the ground. Keep your hands beside your thighs or buttocks. Bend your right leg straight and stretched. Keep the left foot beside the right knee and the left knee raised upward. Inhale and raise the arms shoulder high, keeping the elbows straight. Exhaling, twist to the left, place the right arm by the outer side of the left knee and hold the left ankle with the right hand. Take the left hand behind the back keeping the palms on the floor. Look backward towards the left side. Hold the position as long as comfortable. Take a deep breath and relax. Repeat the same from the other side. Remember to do on both sides to balance your muscles.
- Pavanamuktasana (Knees to chest pose)
From a supine position, lying on your back, the knees are bent and pulled into the chest. The arms are wrapped around the knees. Hug your knee toward the chest, round your back. Keep moving your body toward the right and left, feel the back and the spine get a gentle massage. Releases the back and the spine.
- Sethu Bandhasana (Bridge pose)
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Heels come close to the sit bones, both feet hip width apart. Inhale raise the hips and arch the back upward. Lift up the chest and back, chin towards sternum. Externally rotate your arms, try to grab the ankles if you can, if not just put your palm down next to your body and press on the floor or interlaced your finger under the body. Repeat for few rounds.
- Supta Matsyendrasana (Supine Spinal Twist)
Lie down on your back with both legs extended out, inhale bend right knees toward your hips, knees pointing up toward the ceiling. Press into your feet to lift your hips slightly off the floor and shift them about an inch to your left. Exhale and draw your right knee into your chest and extend your left leg flat on the floor. Inhale and cross your right knee over your midline to the floor on the left side of your body. Your right hip is now stacked on top of your left hip. Open your right arm to the right, keeping it in line with your shoulders. Rest your left hand on your right knee or extend it to make a T shape with the arms. Turn your palms toward the ceiling. Turn your head to the right, bringing your gaze over your shoulder to your right fingertips. You can keep neck neutral if you feel tension on your neck. Keep your shoulder plate on the floor. Repeat the same from the other side.