Low Back Pain? Might be your Quadratus Lumborum

The Quadratus Lumborum [QL] is crucial to the golf swing. No, it’s not the glutes, pecs, or lats, but it should get top billing with them. The QL has the ability to help transmit force from your legs through your trunk and into the ball, or it has the ability to make swinging a golf club seem unbearable. 

We have  QL on each side of our back, and it attached from the bottom of the last rib, and each level of the lumbar spine to the corresponding side’s pelvic rim. Basically think from the bottom of your ribs the top of your pelvis while attaching to the lumbar spine along the way. This little known muscle stabilizes the spine, controls the pelvis, side-bends the spine, and can even extend the spine. Because of all these functions, and the rotational and sidebent nature of the golf swing, there is lots of potential for this muscle to get overworked and start to become painful. 

When your low back begins to hurt during or after playing golf, this muscle might need a little bit of attention. Sure, ice and heat might help cover up that pain, but chances are you need to do a little manual therapy and stretching to get the muscle to relax. 

The video shows one self-massage technique using a mobility ball that you can find in the Forged Flexibility Kit. As you lay on the ball in the area above your belt line, below your ribs, and close to your spine, but not on your spine, you need to breathe deeply and try to relax as you move side to side and up and down. Keep this “pain” level or discomfort level below a 7/10.

There are also 2 stretches shown in the video. One that requires you to get onto the floor, this is a Child’s Pose, which is taken from the yoga world, and then a Lateral Chain Stretch. The latter is fantastic to take to the golf course because you can do it standing and with anything that you can hold onto, like a cart, tree, or willing best-friend. These stretches will help lengthen the muscle, which triggers a signal to be sent to the spinal cord which sends an inhibitory signal back to the muscle allowing it to relax and stretch more. There has also been shown to be an analgesic effect from static stretching - meaning you experience less pain after you hold these stretches. 

As always, I’d advocate for stretching after your round BEFORE you ever experience pain, so you can feel good, move better, and play better golf. Static stretching has been shown to reduce your ability to produce power, so these are suggested to be done before and during a round only if you are experiencing pain. These drills are definitely intended as a jumping off point if you are experiencing some low back pain in the lateral lower quarter with movement. If the pain persists, be sure to get to your medical professional for a more thorough look.

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