Spotlight On The Quadratus Lumborum - Protecting The Lower Back
During BootyBarre® class, I often cue to 'pitch forward at the hips' to avoid using the quadratus lumborum (QL). The QL is a large muscle of the low and middle back that attaches to the upper portion of the pelvis, the side of the low back and the bottom rib. It serves several very important functions, including:
- Positioning the spine relative to the pelvis;
- Helping us maintain an upright position - in fact, when we stand, the QL and gluteals work together to help the body stay up and over our legs;
- Stabilizing the spine and the pelvis, especially when we walk or run; and,
- Assisting with breathing by allowing the rib cage to expand as the lungs fill with air.
While the QL certainly plays an important role in our day-to-day lives, this muscle is also the primary cause of low back pain. In barre and Pilates class, this pain can occur if we begin to use the QL muscle instead the target muscle or muscle group - for example, during back extension exercises (such as, Swimming), if we don't engage the transversus abdominis (TA) to stabilize our lower back; or, during barre work, if we don't use our gluteals, hamstrings and quadriceps to lift our legs.
Our primary goal is always to leave Pilates and BootyBarre® class feeling better than when we arrived. With that in mind, let’s focus on protecting the QL and using the target muscles for each exercise. Best of all, we'll have a stronger core and firmer booty to show for all of our hard work on the mat and at the barre.