Although it doesn't normally get much attention, the quadratus lumborum (QL) muscle plays a vital role in your body's mechanics. It connects your spine, hips and ribs, allowing your body to move sideways. Muscle stiffness can cause back pain. The good news is that stretching helps a lot to alleviate this stiffness. The best way to stretch the QL is to do classic and dynamic seated side bends. Remember to breathe when stretching and never push your body beyond its limits. If you are injured or have a history of a back problem, consult a physician before starting any stretching program.
Method 1 of 3: Making Easy QL Stretches
Step 1. Do side bends sitting for 30 seconds per side
Sit with your legs crossed and your back straight, with the palm of your left hand on the floor and your left elbow slightly bent. Extend your right arm over your head and lean your torso to the left, holding the position for 30 seconds and switching sides when finished.
You can vary this stretch by sitting with your left leg straight. Reach with your left hand until you reach your left ankle and raise your right arm above your head, leaning your torso to the left. Hold the position for 30 seconds and switch sides. Bend your knee slightly if you feel too much pressure on the hamstring muscle
Step 2. Do a classic sidebending for 30 seconds on each side
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your left hand on your waist. Extend your right arm above your head and lean toward the left side of your body. Hold for up to 30 seconds and switch sides.
Step 3. Do ten dynamic side slopes per side
Hold a stretch bar across your shoulders or place your hands near your ears with your elbows bent. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and lean to your left side. Hold the position for two seconds and switch sides. Do a total of ten reps per side.
- Use steady, light movements and try not to push your body abruptly from side to side.
- Keep your torso straight when leaning from side to side and don't lean your body forward or backward.
Step 4. Do a bench press (lying down) QL stretch for 30 seconds per side
Lie on your back with your arms straight at your sides, palms facing up, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Then lift your right leg and cross it over your left knee. The back of the bent right knee should be crossed just above the left knee.
- Keeping your legs crossed, slowly lower them to the left side as far as possible without feeling any discomfort. Hold the position for 30 seconds, then lower your crossed legs slowly back to the center. Keeping them crossed, lower them to the right side and hold for 30 seconds.
- Change legs and repeat the sequence. Uncross your legs, lift your left leg over your right knee, then lower your legs to the right and left sides.
Step 5. Do a seated “V” stretch
Sit with your back straight and both legs stretched out in a wide “V” shape. Reach out your right hand trying to reach your left foot. If possible, hold the outside of your left foot, hold the position for 30 seconds, and repeat on the other side.
If the hamstrings are hurting, bend your knees slightly and hold your foot only as long as you can
Method 2 of 3: Trying Triangular Stretches
Step 1. Try doing the standing triangle pose
Stand with your feet wide apart and your arms straight and straight on each side of your body. Keeping your torso and head straight, lean toward your right leg from your hip joint. When leaning your torso to the right, grasp your right ankle or shin in your right hand and lift your left arm toward the ceiling.
Hold for up to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side
Step 2. Vary the triangle pose to make a deeper stretch
Try reaching out and reaching for the floor instead of holding your ankle or shin. Place your entire palm on the floor, hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- Instead of facing forward during the stretch, you can turn your head towards the arm. If you're stretching your right side with your left hand straight up, turn your head to the left to look at your left hand.
- You can also vary the pose by extending your arm and parallel to the floor instead of lifting it toward the ceiling. When stretching your right side with your head facing forward, lift your left arm and bring it to your left ear, pointing it horizontally instead of vertically.
Step 3. Challenge your balance with the twisted triangle posture
Spread your legs very wide, step back with your left foot and raise your arms parallel to the floor. Bring your left hip forward, your right hip backward, and twist your torso to the right. When turning, bring your left hand to your right foot. Rest it on the inside of your right ankle and raise your right arm to the ceiling.
- Your arms should form a straight line, with your right arm straight and up and your left hand touching your right ankle. Keep your torso and head straight and in line.
- Hold the pose for 30 seconds and switch sides.
Method 3 of 3: Stretching Safely
Step 1. Warm up with five to ten minutes of light activity before stretching
Stretching without warming up increases the risk of injury. Help the blood flow to your muscles by doing a light jog, brisk walk, or other form of light aerobics.
Step 2. Stretch your QL three times a week
Unless a doctor tells you otherwise, don't stretch your QL for two days in a row. Health professionals recommend stretching a muscle group for 30 to 60 seconds three days a week. However, if you have regular back problems, your doctor may recommend a light daily stretch.
If you spend a lot of time sitting at work, it may be beneficial to periodically do light sidebends or QL bench presses. See a doctor if you regularly experience back pain or stiffness at work. Ask him if he recommends regular, light stretches throughout the day
Step 3. Inhale as you pose and exhale as you stretch
Never hold your breath when stretching. Inhale as you move your body and exhale while holding the pose. Then inhale again as you bring your body to neutral.
Step 4. Hold the position stably instead of jumping around
Moving or bouncing around while stretching can injure your muscles. The ideal is to maintain the static position for up to 30 seconds. When doing dynamic stretches, use gentle movements rather than pushing your body abruptly.
Step 5. Do not stretch beyond your natural range of motion
Hold the position when you feel the muscle tightening, but don't try to go beyond your limit. If you experience a sharp pain, stop stretching immediately. Go to the doctor if the pain is severe or does not go away after a few hours.
When you're stretching correctly, it's normal to feel a little tug. If you feel pain, numbness or tingling, stop stretching
Step 6. Consult a doctor before stretching if you have an injury
Never stretch an injured muscle unless directed by a physician, physiotherapist or other health care provider. Stretching a strained or torn muscle can aggravate the injury.