When I was learning my human anatomy I thought that one of the muscles deep towards the spine sounded a lot like a Harry Potter spell…."Quadratus Lumborum" (You need to say it whilst waving an imaginary wand around!). And just like a spell, the QL (as it's sometimes called) can have devastating effects.
I have seen clients suffering with excruciating pain if there is any distress within this muscle. Standing. Sitting. Lying. Bending. Twisting. They just can't seem to get comfortable.
If the muscle is in spasm (which basically means that there is a problem with the neural wiring and it it has forgotten how to do it's job), any movement can be painful. And when I say any I mean ANY.
If one or both of your QLs are in spasm then this can refer pain across the lower back, thighs, groin, obliques, and buttocks.
Sleeping is difficult as rolling onto either side from a lying position is painful and exhausting (and can quite often wake you in the night).
Even a slightly irritated quadratus lumborum can cause a persistent aching pain and gradual loss of lower back and pelvic flexibility and range of motion.
A QL that isn't functioning correctly will affect all the hip/lower-back muscles which may then cause other muscles to go into spasm such as the glutes, piriformis and hip flexors.
It also has a link with Leg Length which means that a QL in spasm may lead to a shorter leg on that same side which may then cause the longer leg to compensate and so leading to knee pain. It can also be a cause of functional scoliosis (a curve in the spine caused by the muscles pulling).
Seriously, trouble in this muscle is not pleasant and you can even have pain when going to the toilet (Both for a number 1 and 2). Oh and coughing and sneezing can be agonising too.
Causes of dysfunction within the QL can be brought on by so many factors but it is believed that poor behavioural habits that are the biggest culprit. Think crossing your legs on the same side, carrying a bag on one shoulder or a baby on one hip.
Thankfully this can usually be treated but as always it's knowing where to look in the first place. As I said, the QL can cause so many other problems that unless we look at the body as a whole sometimes we never actually get down to the cause.
That being said here are 2 exercises that I use regularly to help my clients and myself to release the QL...
1. Wall Glides
The first is what we call wall glides. This is perfect for when you are in work and need to free up your back. Maybe start off with 10-15 reps a few times a day.