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At Entegra Health, Parkville, a common area of muscular concern is lower back pain. Whilst lower back pain often involves a variety of factors and muscles contributing to dysfunction; the primary muscles commonly involved are: the Quadratus Lumborum (QL), Piriformis (Gluteus muscles), Iliopsoas (Hip Flexors), Hamstrings and Adductors.
What Is the Main Lower Back Muscle?
The QLs are the primary lower back muscles, and deepest abdominal muscles. They are located between the lower back, above the sacrum (tail bone) and the final rib. The QLs originate in the lower back/sacrum and insert into the anterior (front) of the pelvis.
What Are the Functions of the QLs?
The QL muscles function in association with the Hip Flexor muscles in the front of the pelvis, the spine and ribs, to support actions involving lateral (side to side) extension and flexion of the torso. The QL muscles are also considered pelvic stabilizers, actively involved in an anterior (front), or posterior (back) tilt. In contrast, the Hip Flexors act as antagonists, functionally alternating between lengthening, or stretching, and contraction.
Due to the attachment of the QL muscles to the lower ribs, the QL muscles also support respiration (breathing) to an extent, in conjunction with the upper thoracic (Rhomboid and Pectoral) and intercostal muscles (muscles between the ribs).
What Tension Related Problems Can Occur in the QLs? | Lower Back Stretch
At Entegra Health Parkville, common conditions of the QL muscles include standard lower back tension related conditions, to persistent (chronic) inflammatory conditions. More severe although common conditions associated with the QL muscles include Bulging Disc (herniated spine), and Sciatica, involving inflammation of the sciatic nerve located between the vertebrae in the lumbar spine.
Symptoms commonly present with QL tension may include pain in the lower back, and/or reduced range of motion in side-to-side actions. Other common symptoms associated with acute QL tension and/or pain may include difficulty with basic daily tasks including standing from a sitting position, putting on shoes, or getting dressed.
Common aggravating factors associated with general tension or soft tissue injuries, may include:
- Repeated use causing strain, or overuse of lower back (QL) muscles
- Weak abdominal muscles
- Increase in lower back weight bearing loads (i.e weighted squats)
How Can I Reduce Lower Back Muscular Tension?
At Entegra Health, we highly recommend consulting your Remedial Massage therapist during your treatment (or through a Telehealth Consultation), to determine the most appropriate treatment management plan for you. Common management plans may include a combination of regular Remedial Massage treatments, and self care options including stretching and/or strengthening programs, to effectively reduce general muscular tension of the QL muscles between Remedial Massage treatments.
Lower Back Stretch
Many simple stretches exist to effectively lengthen and reduce tension in the QL muscles of the lower back (see Entegra Health stretch library). Stretching the QL muscles may also assist the reduction of tension in the knees and ankles, therefore also reducing the potential for soft tissue related conditions such as plantar fasciitus.
Strengthening the QL and abdominal muscles is important to effectively support stabilization of the pelvis and lower back. Exercises to strengthen the QL muscles include free weights to strengthen the lower back, and the abdominal muscles. Examples of supportive exercises include crunches/sit-ups and weighted squats.
For further information regarding Remedial Massage, or treatment options, please contact us via email. Access to free online resources including stretch and exercise video resources can also be found on our website.