The QL: The Forgotten Core Muscle

Maurice Williams | 04 Sep 2020

When one thinks of their core, I doubt the quadratus lumborum ( QL) comes to mind. The average person in the gym is not walking around saying: “I'm going to work hard on my QL today!” Despite the fact that most don't work on it or may never have heard of it, the QL is an important muscle and should be included in a person's fitness programming. 

Anatomy & Function
The QL is an abdominal muscle that is located deep, posterior, lateral and inferior of the spine. It originates at the iliac crest and inserts into the transverse processes of the lumbar vertebrae (L2-L5) and the 12th rib. The QL's organization is complicated, and it is hard to identify precisely the actions that occur through the contraction of fibers.

However, commonly and traditionally, the QL is known to help laterally flex and extend the spine. It also helps to slow down lateral spinal flexion on the opposite spine. Lastly, it stabilizes the lumbo- pelvic-hip-complex (LPHC).

Weak or Tight?
The QL is commonly known as a muscle that is overactive or tight. Because of its association with low back pain, most licensed manual therapists will recommend various flexibility work, which includes soft tissue modalities (massage ball, massages, etc.) and the various types of stretching (static, active isolated or PNF) appropriate for the individual.  

The suggested way to determine if ones QL is tight or weak is by having a static and dynamic postural assessment. Licensed manual therapy professionals or a qualified fitness professionals can do these. The QL may be indicated as tight if the pelvis is not level when performing a static assessment or if the hip hikes during a dynamic assessment. Once this is done, then they can determine if one should be improving the range of motion or working on stability, endurance and strength of the QL.

Here are a few of the recommended stretches (can include hyperlinks from the PT on the Net exercise library). The acute variables for these would be 1-2 sets for a 30 sec to two-minute hold.

1. Knee to Chest Stretch
2. Side-lying Stretch
3. Extended Arm Child's Pose 

Here are a few exercises to help stabilize and work on endurance for the QL. The acute variables for these would 1-3 sets, 12-20 reps with a 4-2-1 tempo.

1. Supine Bridges
2. Side Iso Abs
3. Quadruped Opposite Arm/Leg Raises
4. Cable or Medicine Ball Chops & Lifts

The QL is just as important of a muscle as any other. One should be sure to include it in their exercise programming just like they would do for their chests back or legs. Your assessment will determine whether your focus will be making your QL more flexible or more stable and stronger.

Subscribe to the PTontheNet blog via Email or RSS feed

      Back to top
Maurice Williams

About the author: Maurice Williams

Maurice Williams offers a rare combination of advanced academic training, personal experience as a competitive athlete, and twenty years of experience in personal fitness and training. That combination –- a strong understanding of exercise and sport science and clinical exercise physiology, the determination of a competitive athlete, and broad fitness experience –- makes Maurice uniquely effective in helping his clients meet their health and fitness goals. He has a BS in Exercise/Sport Science from Elon University and an MS in Clinical Exercise Physiology from Ohio University.

Experience that makes a difference for you
Recognized as a Master Personal Trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and an Elite Personal Fitness Trainer by IDEA, Maurice can help you no matter what your age, condition, or fitness goals. He works with women between the ages of 35-50 who are looking to regain the energy and look that they had in their 20’s and 30’s so they will not be frustrated and upset with themselves when they look in the mirror. He also is certified as a Personal Fitness Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Performance Enhancement Specialist, Senior Fitness Specialist, Weight Loss Specialist & Fitness Nutrition Specialist by NASM, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), a Barefoot Training Specialist-Level 1 through EBFA, a Fitness Nutrition Coach-Level 1 through Precision Nutrition and a Master Instructor for NASM & Most-Fit. As a fitness educator with his own education company, Move Well Fit Academy, Maurice teaches the Certified Personal Trainer course through NASM.

Smart Training that Produces Results
Maurice exercises his clients through the concept of functional training – focusing on everyday body movements, not muscles, in a progressive fashion to allow for optimal improvements in everyday activities, such as walking and lifting, as well as helping contribute to weight loss, increased stamina and strength. Maurice has helped people match exercise to their specific health challenges, too, including diabetes, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, coronary artery disease, lower back pain, pulmonary issues, and pregnancy. His personal training studio, Move Well Fitness, specializes in 30-minute, semi-private (3-5 people) personal group training sessions that action packed with results driven programs. 

The Right Values
Maurice believes “Everyone has fitness is them, the challenge is bringing the fitness out.” His current workout includes resistance training, cardio and yoga. A former high school and collegiate athlete, Maurice grew up in South Carolina with roots that reach back to Brooklyn, NY. An avid sports fan, he still roots for Elon and his favorites, the Miami Hurricanes and the UNC Tarheels. A leader in his church, husband with a beautiful wife (just ask him) and father of four children, Maurice brings the right values to his work and his clients – a shared commitment to good health and fitness, an honest determination, and an understanding of what it takes to meet difficult challenges.

Full Author Details

Leave a reply

Subject: Comment:



Comments (0)

Our Policy Changes

We recently updated our Terms & Conditions and Use and Privacy Policy, both of which will take effect on 14 Oct 2020. Click on the links to view the updated policies.