Lower back pain is one of the most common injuries I see as a massage therapist, and a lot of clients don’t know that regular massage can improve pain and stiffness in the lower back. Some causes of lower back pain arise from sitting for too long, poor upper back posture and also weak muscles that surround the lower back and gluteal area.
The Quadratus Lumborum (QL) is one of the main muscles that is known to cause lower back pain. The muscle is responsible for:
- Playing an essential role in stabilising the pelvis when we stand upright.
- Pulling down the 12th Rib when we inhale, allowing the ribs to expand.
- Connecting the spine to the pelvis and allows the lumbar spine to flex and extend and elevate the hip.
Most the clients I treat have no idea about the QL, how tight it gets or why it hurts so much when it gets massaged!
When working through this particular muscle, it does become quite tender and can be very painful at times.This is because it’s the muscle responsible for helping you sit and stand, and how many times a day do we do this! Sitting for long periods also allows the QL to seize up and stay in a shortened position, which in turn creates pain and stiffness.
The most effective way to release the QL massage is by treating the trigger points (the active trigger points are shown in the picture above), where the therapist will use their thumbs or elbow to target these specific spots. The therapist can also use Swedish and Myofascial releases to decrease pain. Trigger points are essentially hyperirratable spots in skeletal muscle that is associated with palpable nodule in a taut band and the pressure is held on the trigger point for approximatly 5-10 seconds or until the pain decreases.
Another trick to treating the QL that can help the therapist work on the muscle is by placing a small folded towel or pillow under your stomach to bring the pelvis/lumbar spine into neutral placing the muscle in a relaxed position, plus …makes it easier to trigger point.
As a client you can also help relieve the QL by laying on a spiky ball or on a foam roller, slowly rolling forwards and backwards along the muscle. This can be quite painful at first so ease into it, try to do this everyday and your lower back will love you!
The QL is one of the main muscles responsible for back pain and its great see how relieved my clients are after treatment, something so simple as massage can help relieve the nasty pain… how amazing!