Hiker that crumbles your back
Domlur, Bengaluru Feb 12, 2017
Hiker that crumbles your back
The word ‘crumble’ is used here instead of ‘pain in lower back’ because when the lower back pains, back is actually crumbled as your muscles do.
Generally, these muscles crumble more commonly as you get older. Nowadays, with poor lifestyle and luxurious decors which we feel comfortable does not help the real cause. The age criterion has shifted from 30-40 years to 15-30 years period for the lower back pains. Poor physical fitness, uncomfortable seater and wrong ergonomics usually lead to initial crumbling. As it goes, there are 1000 reasons for having low back pain and few culprits who initiates back issues checks in regularly with same crumbling patterns.
One of the main culprits is the Quadratus Lumborum (QL) muscle, as it develops same pain patterns, it is named as Quadratus Lumborum Syndrome.
The Quadratus lumborum is a muscle of the posterior abdominal wall. It is the deepest abdominal muscle and commonly grouped in lower back musculature. It is irregular and quadrilateral in shape and broader below than above.
The Quadratus Lumborum generally known as the ‘hip hiker’ muscle. It helps in rising and holding the hip which will let the legs do movement. It also acts as a supportive muscle in doing spinal extension. Forced breathing out takes place with the help of QL muscle.
The QL connects the pelvis to the spine and is therefore helps to curve lower back with the main spinal muscles. When the primary low back spinal muscles run in to weakness/ tiredness/partly inhibited (as they often are in the case of habitual seated computer use and/or the use of a lower back support in a chair). This mechanical disadvantage will lead to constant contraction while seated can overuse the QLs, resulting in muscle fatigue.
When Hiker Crumbles
- Pain developed from the Quadratus lumborum syndrome can be paralyzing. It brings a sharp stabbing knife like pain to the lower back area. Turning over in bed and trying to stand from a sitting position can almost bring tears to the eyes.
- The quadratus lumborum muscle allows separation of movement between the upper body and lower body. Two examples are keeping the hips and legs still while moving and twisting the upper body and arms, or moving the legs while keeping the upper body still.
- People who have one hip noticeably higher than the other are usually experiencing problems with the quadratus lumborum. This painful muscle is blamed for “bad backs” all over the world. But QL muscle gets tight in an effort to keep your spine stable. Remember those cable stays before you go blindly stretching QL.
- Don’t just stretch and rub on sore QLs. Teach the abdominal and hip musculature to share the load. If your spine is laterally flexed with a hip hike, your gluteal muscle may not be doing their job. If you have spinal flexion or extension pain, your core musculature may not be properly sequencing.
- Pain during menstruation- Acute increase in tone and spasms of the QL may be associated with pain during menstruation. Stretching, and applying pressure to trigger points in the muscle belly may relieve symptoms.
Understanding how the QL crumbles?
QL is responsible movement of pelvis up and down by maintaining the spine. Think about crawling, lying on the floor and wiggling back and forth like a snake or fish out of water, that’s your QL talking. When you are holding a 5kg dumbbell in right hand and nothing in the left, It’s your left QL muscle that is firing to help stabilize the spine and keep you up right. Not only does the Quadratus Lumborum help you carry 15 bags of groceries using one hand, into the house in one trip, it also has a huge impact on lower back pain. The problem some people run into is getting a tight QL mixed up with some of the other muscles in the surrounding area. If you are not confident in self diagnosing and figuring it out on your own go talk to one of your Physical Therapist and have them check for a better diagnosis. If you know for a fact that you do have a rather tight QL then you are in the right place.
Test your Hiker strength
A simple way to introduce yourself to your QL is to test its strength by seeing how long you can hold a side plank. The QL is a big player in maintaining a neutral spine. An easy way to help build your hypothesis of a weak QL is the time your side plank holds. If on one side, you can do 45 seconds and the other over a minute you might want to spend some time out this evening.
How do you know if your Quadratus Lumborum (QL) is crumbled?
- Your lower back pain over time develops into what seems like a severe hip pain.
- Over time the pain from the tight QL could translate into the groin area which could also develop into sciatica symptoms
- When you cough or sneeze, your pain triples. This is normally due to the QL attempting to stabilize the rib cage while coughing and sneezing
- It’s been said that, people constantly attempting to brace and stabilize their upper body with their hands while they stand or sit, is a sure fire sign of an over firing QL.
- Being in an upright or sitting posture makes the pain worse but most individuals will experience pain with any movement.
- Rolling from side to side after laying face up for some time is extremely painful
- If you are aware of one leg being genetically shorter than the other and you suffering from back pain you could be a good candidate for a tight QL
A lot of diagnosed tight QL’s stem from a number of different things. Over tight quad muscles and weak hamstrings along with a number of different muscle imbalances in the hip can lead to QL crumbling. An unbalanced hip can really set the QL off. The thing is, if you’re not training in a way that will repair that imbalance then, simply mashing on a tight QL won’t bring you lasting relief. You have to look at the root cause.
How to tackle the QL Crumbling
- Don’t do anything that causes you more pain
- Don’t “push through” any pain
- Go into each position slow and controlled. You should be able to breathe normally during the entire stretching position.
- Hold these positions from 20-30 seconds at a time and don’t ever do more than three times in one session.
Lying Position – Hook Lying Stretch
Lie on your back, either on the floor or in bed, to perform the hook lying/QL stretch. Bend your knees with your feet still touching the bed. Rest your hands on your stomach. Place a pillow under your neck if you wish; this will not interfere with the stretch.
Cross your right leg over your left. Lower your knees slowly to the right until you feel a stretch in your right lower back and hips. Keep your shoulders on the floor or bed. Hold for five seconds.
Bring your legs back to center where you had started from. Switch legs and drop your knees slowly to the left. Hold for 10-20 seconds and bring your legs back to the center.