As a yoga teacher and massage therapist there are a few issues that I see come up a lot in my students and my clients. This is is one of them so I thought I would put together a little blog post to help you identify if this might be a cause of your low back pain and if it is there are also some yoga asana’s you can do to strengthen and release this important muscle.
Prolonged sitting or standing, weak back muscles and poor posture can cause a lingering ache deep in your low back. This might mean that your quadratus lumborum is tight or under strain.
There is good news though as this little muscle can be stretched, strengthened and released just like any other muscle.
Although it is really considered a deep abdominal muscle the QL is located on either side of the lower portion of the spine between the lowest rib and the top of the pelvis.
What the QL does?
The QL acts as a stabiliser for the lumbar spine, extends the low back so basically it creates that duck bum shape. And laterally flexes the spine, for side bending. It is also involved in respiration stabilising and moving the lowest ribs.
How does it get tight?
Sometimes when we become aware of the fact that we are sitting with poor posture with all our good intention we attempt to correct it, unfortunately, what often happens is that we begin to overcompensate by lifting the chest and creating an exaggerated extension in the low back. This creates a strong curve in the lumbar spine. Which creates problems.
A poll of 2000 workers in the UK found that 46% of people sit at work from between 4-6 hours a day and 25% sit for 7-8 hours a day. Sitting for long periods of time without moving can reduce the flow of blood to the QL muscle and its neighbour muscles. When blood flow becomes decreased in any muscle over time it becomes less efficient.
Other things that may be causing your QL to give you trouble is if you have a tendency to lean to one side when seated, sitting cross-legged, sitting on a wallet or a phone can also cause tightness.
Sleeping position- When you sleep on your side the hip on top gets hiked up, which might cause oblique and psoas muscle tightness as well.
When we consider how to work in a holistic way with a muscle that is under strain, tension or inefficient we must incorporate three approaches.
Yoga postures for strengthening
Shalabasana (locust pose) -This pose will help you strengthens the muscles of the spine, glutes (which also become weak from sitting) and legs Stretches the shoulders, chest, belly, and thighs. And improves posture.
Side Plank- you do this pose on your hand or on your forearm. Strengthens the abdominal muscles and the quadratus lumborum. Hold this for up to 1 minute on each side.
Yoga poses for stretching the QL
Parighasana (side bend) This pose helps to stretches the sides of the torso and spine the QL area. Also stretches the hamstrings and opens the shoulders helping to improve posture.
If you have any questions or would like to share your experiences I would love to hear from you.