Meet you Muscles: Quadratus Lumborum

When we hear the names of the different muscles in our body, they often give little clues as to where they are located. Let’s take a look at a the muscles in our back, since many of us have suffered or are suffering with back pain. Getting to know our anatomy can shed some much needed light as to why they were injured in the first place. The Quadratus Lumborum (QL) is actually known as an abdominal muscle, located posterior, in our backs. Looking at the name, you get a sense of its location in the lumbar region. We use this muscle to sit, walk and stand. Often, if you have back pain, the QL is a prime suspect.

The Anatomy

The Quadratus Lumborum muscle originates on the lower border of the 12th rib and the tips of the lumbar processes. It extends down to insert at the top of the posterior Iliac Crest and Iliolumbar ligament. It is found on the left and the right side of the body. The QL is a pretty important muscle as it stabilizes the diaphragm, laterally flexes the spine (side bend) and extends the lumbar spine.

What is the injury and how does it happen?

This muscle can be injured with a forceful movement or trauma. More often, it is due to stiffness, repetitive strain or tension. The QL is a postural muscle and can be overused to stabilize the spine and pelvis, if the other surrounding muscles are weak and inactive. If you preform activities such as twisting, bending or lifting incorrectly, the QL becomes more tight and painful. As the muscle continues to grow in tension, it develops trigger points. These are points that are painful with stimulation (touch). This causes a deep ache in the low back that can refer pain into the hips. Other causes of QL pain are: sitting too long, poor posture, and unequal leg length.


  • Tightness or pain in low back
  • Sharp pain with coughing or sneezing
  • Low back pain that is worse with movement like walking, standing and rolling over in bed


To prevent Quadratus Lumborum pain, you need to improve your posture, strengthen any weak muscles to help share the work, and to make sure you are using the correct techniques for bending and lifting to protect your back.

Great examples of exercises to help with QL pain:

  1. Pelvic Tilts
  2. Hip Flexor Stretching
  3. Child’s Pose with Side Bend

Then begin slowly strengthening the other muscles in your core and in your back once the pain has lessened. A great way to start core and postural strengthening is by trying out one of the Gentle Pilates classes offered in the Fitness Studio on Monday or Friday. Start to strengthen from the Inside – Out!