QLs – QUADRATUS LUMBORUM
As we participate in activities we love, such as Crossfit, Spin, Barre, Row, Running, etc., we tend to forget that the injury prevention and recovery components of our training are just as important as the training itself.
Take, for example, the LOWER BACK. We constantly neglect this critical area of our body – partly because we underestimate it’s importance in everything we do in sport, training and our daily lives. We will go to the gym and do extensions and heavy deadlifts, and when is the last time you actually took 20 minutes to stretch after that to make sure your back stayed safe and healthy?
Introducing the first part of our 3 part series where we will outline the little-known, common culprits of lower back issues, starting with the Quadratus Lumborum.
Your predominant lower back muscles are called the “Quadratus Lumborum”, or “QLs” (see highlighted image). The QL muscles play such a prominent role in normal body mechanics that without them, the upright posture of the human being would be impossible. As you can see from the image, they are found on either side of your lumbar spine. The QLs connect the ribcage and lower spine to the pelvis, and play a vital role in stabilizing the lower back.
The fact that the QL’s play such an important role in lower back stabilization make them a very important part of your CORE.
And yes, we know…you’re probably tired of hearing everyone talk about ‘core’ and not explaining what ‘core’ actually is! Allow us! Your core is a complex of several muscles in your trunk area (abdominals, obliques, pelvic floor, spine, and ‘lower back’), that act like a pillar of stability and strength. It is from here which all of your functional moments originate. Consider the fact that your limbs will only ever produce as much force as your core can stabilize! If you have ever swung a golf club or a baseball bat as hard as you can and fell off balance, it’s because your arms produced more force than your core could handle. Therefore, the stronger the core, the faster and stronger we can be with our arms and legs. Imagine how important that is for performance, balance and body control.
Contracting your right QL will flex the trunk to the right side (like an oblique crunch), and vice versa with the left. Contracting both sides at the same time extends the lumbar spine (think everything from standing upright to doing deadlifts). Imbalanced/uneven squats and lateral movement can put tremendous strain on the QLs.
When one QL muscle becomes tight or is in spasm, it causes the spine to tilt to the same side. This causes further complications and misalignment that can lead to serious injuries. Common symptoms of QL issues are stiffness and/or aching low back pain both during movement and at rest. Weakness, sharp shooting pains in the lower back (when sitting, standing or lifting) are also potential symptoms of tightness throughout the QL muscles. In addition, common occurrences such as coughing and sneezing can create episodes of agonizing pain as the muscle contracts to stabilize the rib cage.
Part of any comprehensive fitness routine involves maintaining a healthy lower back. Your QL activation is usually hidden in the unconscious part of your brain, so actively becoming aware of engagement is absolutely critical for long-term health and mobility. By working your QL muscles through our Strain Counter Strain stretch protocol and neurologically reprogramming their movement, we actively engage and strengthen the muscle while releasing tension and tightness.
Whether we are focusing on Pre-hab (injury prevention) or Rehab (injury recovery), incorporating our program of Strain Counter Strain and Fascial Neuro Stimulation into your current fitness regime is a fantastic way to ensure the longevity of your physical well-being, peak performance and quality of life.