Quadratus Lumborum

David Keil Anatomy, Torso 8 Comments

Breaking Down Quadratus Lumborum

quadratus lumborum muscle yoga anatomy

  • Quadratus refers to the muscle having what looks like four distinct sides.
  • Lumborum refers to the area of the body, the lumbar area of the spine in particular.
  • Quadratus Lumborum is often abbreviated as “QL”

Attachments of The Quadratus Lumborum

  • Iliac Crest (Specifically the top and back part of the pelvis. This bone of the pelvis is specifically known as the Ilium).
  • Transverse processes (boney parts that stick out to the side off of each vertebrae) of Lumbar vertebrae. Usually just the top four lumbar vertebrae
  • The 12th Rib (That’s the last rib, also known as a floating rib because it does not attach to the rib cage)

Actions of The Quadratus Lumborum

This muscle has three potential actions

  • To extend the spine as in Shalabasana
  • To bring the ribs closer to the pelvis on the same side known as lateral flexion
  • It’s often referred to as the “hip hiker” as it can lift the pelvis toward the lower ribs on the same side.

Postures Where QL Contracts

Dhanruasana requires help from the Quadratus Lumborum and the paraspinal muscles.

Shalabasana uses Quadratus Lumborum to help the paraspinals as well.

Postures Where QL is Lengthened

Note that the left side is getting longer (stretching) while the right side gets shorter (contracting, it is also possible that it just short).

triangle asana yoga anatomy posture

In this case the Quadratus Lumborum on Marsha’s left side is getting longer. This adjustment accentuates that part of the pose.

Common problems and Additional Information

This muscle is often associated with back pain, SI joint pain, as well as part of a larger pattern of anatomical dysfunction. I have already written a more detailed article about this muscle. I also discussed it in the larger pattern of psoas and gluteal relationship.

I often associate muscles in this area as part of the “splinting” response from the body when a spinal disc between the vertebrae bulges or herniates. Muscles in the surrounding area tighten or “splint” to protect and prevent further movement in the area.

Additional Images

Many of the concepts in this article are discussed in:
Functional Anatomy of Yoga


Yoga Anatomy research
Yoga Anatomy Book Buy Now

About David Keil

david keil yoga anatomyThis website is simply about delivering yoga anatomy to the yoga community in a simple and understandable way. It has always been about you, the reader, understanding the complexity and diversity of our own humanness as well as our anatomy.

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Comments 8

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  1. Great article and great information – thank you!
    I have 2 herniated disks and 2 bulging in my lumbar spine (together with a slight scoliosis – concave on the left) – definitely agree that the QL acts as a splint. In fact I think the QL (tight as steel wire on the right and weak on the left) has given me more pain than the disk problems. I have been avoiding forward bends and twists for a while and have therefore lost range of motion. I think I am now ready to start adding very gentle fwd bends (am starting with a modified childs) – I regularly practice seated side stretches to release the QL – things are improving. Do you have any advice on how to lengthen the QL again?

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