Low Back Pain? Hello “Joker” Muscle

by | Jun 14, 2016 | Feel Good in Your Body, Living Yoga, Muscle Musings | 0 comments

Holy Moly Batman, who hasn’t had low back pain?  If you sit for hours, are on your feet all day, or do any kind of labor-intensive work, you probably have experienced pain or discomfort in your low back.

Quadratus-Lumborum-Low Back Pain

Low Back Pain’s Culprit Muscle

I recently moved after living in my beloved city for 25 years.  Moving is enough of a stressor on anyone’s back: packing and lifting boxes, reaching up high and bending down low with weight in your hands, and hauling those boxes, not to mention the repetitive motion of it all.  Although the move was exciting for me, the inherent stress of leaving friends, a life built around a vibrant yoga studio and moving to a new city, was a sure Rx for low back pain.  Ouch!

Introducing the Joker Muscle

Everything about the short, thick Quadratus Lumborum, a.k.a. the “QL,” speaks to it being a low back muscle. It originates on the posterior iliac crest, inserts on the twelfth rib and transverse processes of the first to fourth lumbar vertebrae, and is a source of complaints for low back pain.

But the QL is actually a deep abdominal muscle. It’s attachment to the lumbar spine and twelfth rib stabilizes the lumbar spine to keep an upright posture, and is therefore considered one of the core muscles.

When concentrically contracted, the QL laterally flexes the spine to bring the ribcage towards the side hip and tilts the side hip to meet the ribcage for a strong side bend. Imagine how your hip hikes up when crossing one leg over the other while sitting, or how your ribcage bends towards your side hip when leaning on the armrest in your car. This is the work of the QL, and I might add, bad posture to hold over time!

The two QL’s work together to stabilize the spine and make it possible, along with the psoas, for us to walk. Often referred to as the “joker” the QL is the main culprit in many back pain complaints, but is often overlooked as the cause of pain with the psoas taking the blame.

Rx for Low Back Pain

Play the right card and practice the Yoga Tune Up® sequence suggested below to keep your Quadratus Lumborum healthy and your low back happy.

Stay tuned for my next blog post where more players in the low back pain arena are revealed!

Looking for Back Care Yoga or Yoga Tune Up® Fitness Therapy?  Contact me for info about classes and private instruction in Santa Fe, NM.  Workshops and trainings offered, per your invitation, in your city!


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