Quadratus Lumborum Trigger Points & Lower Back Pain

By Benjamin AydBack Muscle Solutions LLC – Founder & CEO

The Quadratus Lumborum (QL) muscle is a deep, 4-sided lower back muscle that has a tendency to develop trigger points and cause pain in the lower back. Quadratus Lumborum trigger points can be extremely painful, limiting, and stiffening for a body. In this article, I’m going to share what a Quadratus Lumborum trigger point is, why it causes pain, and how to release it.

Pain Pattern Caused By Quadratus Lumborum Trigger Points [1]

Quadratus Lumborum Trigger Point Anatomy

Why should you care? The Quadratus Lumborum muscle can make or break your lower back health. A strong, durable QL muscle is resilient and strong against lower back pain, while a weak, trigger-point-ridden Quadratus Lumborum is a recipe for problems.

Quadratus Lumborum lies on both sides of the lumbar spine, connecting from the top of the hip to the bottom of the ribcage. Quadratus Lumborum also connects along lumbar vertebrae L1-L4 in criss-cross patterns [1].

The image above displays the QL in dark red, and pain referred by Quadratus Lumborum trigger points in bright red [1]. Quadratus Lumborum trigger points not only refer pain locally to the lower back but can also contribute to pain in the tailbone and glute [1].

Cause Of Quadratus Lumborum Trigger Points & Pain

QL pain caused by trigger points can originate via two different general mechanisms – a) a single, high-impact event, or b) a gradual buildup of stress placed on the QL muscle. I have developed QL pain from both methods; in my opinion, the former is worse.

In both cases of Quadratus Lumborum trigger point development, a stress is placed on the QL muscle that is higher than its capacity to handle said load. In the case of a single high-impact event – this can look like deadlifting more weight than you should or playing basketball unconditioned for the first time in years. In the latter case of a gradual building – this QL pain can look like slouching in a chair every day for 2 years or always carrying your golf bag on one shoulder.

All generations of Quadratus Lumborum trigger points happen around an outside load exceeding the QL muscle’s function. Once the load capacity of the QL is exceeded, it has no choice but to spasm and develop trigger points to protect the spine from serious harm.

Treatment Of Quadratus Lumborum Trigger Points

Quadratus Lumborum trigger point treatment begins with effective, targeted QL muscle release. This can be done by the hands of a trained physical or massage therapist, or at home with a nifty QL release tool like QL Claw. QL Claw is nice for this function because you can use it on demand, exactly when and where pain creeps into your life. Another plus of QL Claw is it can effectively release the other 5 main muscles that contribute to a ton of lower back pain when tight – Iliacus, Psoas, Piriformis, Gluteus Medius, and TFL. Check out the best Quadratus Lumborum trigger point release tool below:



Prevention Of Quadratus Lumborum Trigger Points

The best prevention for Quadratus Lumborum trigger points is to build a flexible, strong lower back so trigger points are less likely to be needed to protect the back in the first place. Check out these links on a phenomenal QL stretch as well as 3 QL strengthening exercises to build next-level lower back pain prevention: 




[1] Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.

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