For many people, back pain is a daily occurrence. While much of it has to do with our posture and positioning throughout the day, another offender is a muscle of the lower back, the quadratus lumborum (QL). If you’re working on better posture throughout the day and not finding any relief in the lower back, try this release to get deeper to the root of your discomfort.

The QL runs alongside either side of your spine from the last rib to the top of the pelvis. It helps you to hike one hip up, stabilize the pelvis during walking, and if both contract, pulls your pelvis into an anterior tilt (think Beyoncé booty sticking out). (Read more about the QL here)

Even if back pain is not a common foe, keeping the soft tissues that stabilize your spine healthy, hydrated, and pliable is very important. Using therapy balls, specifically the Yoga Tune Up® Alpha ball, is a great way to release tension in the lower back. (I do not recommend using a harder implement, such as a lacrosse ball, as most of the sensation you feel will be your tissues bracing against the tool, instead of the tissues releasing, like they can do with a softer tool)

After my lifting session this morning, this was on my list of go to places to roll. Also on the list was ankles, feet, and rotator cuff (OUCH), which all needed some TLC today. As I’ve always said, you don’t have to roll the entire body every day, go after the places that are sore, tired, or you know regularly need attention.  

To do the QL release with the therapy balls, you must first warm up the tissues layered on top of the QL. Notice the redness across my low back in the photo? I used the Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Ball Plus to roll across my back before I went deeper with the Alpha ball. Once you’re warmed and ready to go (about 2 minutes of general low back rolling is sufficient), place the Alpha ball between your last rib and the top of your pelvis, in the (hopefully) squishy portion of your lower back. You can then just rest, and let your fascias and QL unwind while they are stretched by the displacement of the Alpha ball, or you can move around. The best part of the placement of the ball is that so much more than the QL is being affected. Everything on top of it (internal and external obliques, transverse abdominis, erector spinae, and friends) is also getting stretched.

My favorite moves are side to side with the hips, tucking and un-tucking my pelvis and the Homer Simpson spin. For the Homer Simpson spin, lock the ball in place with one hand, and then spin your body on top of the ball. It will feel like you’re giving yourself an Indian burn, but don’t worry, that’s exactly what we’re going for. Once you’ve wound up the tissue as much as possible, do all the movement I listed earlier. Wind up the other way and move again. 

*If pressure/sensation is too much, take the ball to the wall to lessen the weight. You can do all the same moves, in standing, at the wall. 

When you are done, your lower back will be refreshed and renewed. Healthy tissue is more capable of supporting your body weight against gravity and a happy QL will help take the pressure off of your spine (as long as you are in a good position). 

For more info about this specific mobilization, check out Dr. Kelly Starrett’s of MobilityWOD.com video below – the QL is not a Bone.