In the previous parts we've looked at patterns of compensation occurring because of under/over-active muscle groups. Here we focus on one largely over-looked muscle in particular:
QL stands for Quadratus Lumborum and its jobs are to side-bend the lower back, hold down the ribcage during inhalation and to assist in extending the spine (standing up). It goes from your iliac crest (upper hip) to the bottom rib and lumbar spine.
Poor posture, anterior pelvic tilt (see Part 1 – Lower Crossed Syndrome) and long periods of sitting down can cause this muscle to become chronically short and tight, resulting in pain and making it more susceptible to injury.
It’s a difficult one to stretch on your own and is the kind of muscle you didn’t even know you had until a therapist helpfully makes you aware of it.
The fix? It can be prevented with correct posture but poor posture is something nearly everyone is guilty of so there is still a chance this may occur.
A side-bending stretch may help but this may compromise the lumbar vertebrae, especially if already suffering pain and weakness in that area.
The best form of treatment in this situation is to go and see a Soft Tissue Therapist. The muscle can be released from its short, angry state through massage and advanced stretching techniques done by a suitably qualified therapist.
Your spine is a complex structure. It not only supports your trunk, upper limbs and skull on the pelvis but it also houses and protects your spinal cord and allows the spinal nerves to be rooted to their relative destinations. It is the biggest link in the chain between transferring movement and energy from the bottom half to the top half of the body and vice-versa and it does this through the synchronised activation of many different muscles.
If anything goes wrong in this chain then it will be compensated for elsewhere by muscles that weren’t designed specifically for that purpose. This may not result in pain to begin with but, given enough time, it can and likely will develop into an overuse injury of some sort.
There are many other conditions, imbalances and weaknesses that can lead to back pain, I have only picked up on the most common culprits but if you only take one thing away from this then I would like it to be the following – Move. Get up, get active. Use the body you have and don’t be afraid to put it to the test, it’s made of stronger stuff than you probably know. Be aware of your body and the muscles that you have and learn to use them properly.