Quadratus Lumborum


December 15, 2013     muscle | quadratus lumborum | trigger points | Anatomy | Torso

Breaking Down Quadratus Lumborum

Let’s help you understand the basics of the quadratus lumborum muscle. Where it attaches (its origin and insertion) as well as how and when it contracts (its action).

  • 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) The bone at the top and back of the pelvis is known as the Ilium.
  • Transverse processes (bony parts that stick out to the side 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)

Quadratus Lumborum Muscle Attachments

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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 This Muscle Contracts

Dhanruasana (see below) requires help from the quadratus lumborum and the paraspinal muscles.

quadratus lumborum muscle in dhanurasana

Parighasana (seen below) uses quadratus lumborum to help the paraspinals as well.

quadratus lumborum muscle in parighasana

Postures Where This Muscle is Lengthened

Note that the left side is getting longer (stretching) while the right side gets shorter (contracting).

quadratus lumborum in parighasana

In the adjustment below the quadratus lumborum on Marsha’s left side is getting longer. This adjustment accentuates that part of the pose.triangle asana yoga anatomy posture

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.

Trigger Points

Quadratus Lumborum Trigger Points

Quadratus Lumborum Trigger Points

Quadratus Lumborum Trigger Points