Quadratus Lumborum Stretch (12 Different exercises)

The Quadratus Lumborum (or QL for short) is a muscle that is located on both sides of the lumbar spine.

(… and if you have ever had any lower back pain, it is safe to assume that this muscle was probably involved in one way or another!)

The content presented on this blog post is not medical advice and should not be treated as such. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. For more information: Medical disclaimer.


What causes tight Quadratus Lumborum?

… It’s your posture!

Here are the main postures related to a tight Quadratus Lumborum:

a) Anterior pelvic tilt 

anterior pelvic tilt quadratus lumborum

For more information: How to fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

b) Scoliosis

scoliosis ql

For more information: How to fix Scoliosis

c) Lateral pelvic tilt

lateral pelvic tilt quadratus lumborum

For more information: How to fix Lateral Pelvic Tilt

d) Side lie sleeping position

tight QL side sleeping

How To Stretch Quadratus lumborum

READ THIS:

  • Hold each QL stretch for at least 2 minutes.
  • Make sure that you can FEEL the stretch. If you can’t feel the Quadratus Lumborum stretch, then you are probably not stretching it!
  • You do NOT have to do all of the stretches. Pick ONE! …and do it well.

Release

How do you release a tight Quadratus Lumborum?

Trigger point release the muscle before you stretch it!

quadratus lumborum massage ball release

Instructions

  • Locate the Quadratus Lumborum muscle.
  • Whilst lying on the floor, place this muscle directly on top of the massage ball.
  • Apply as much of your body weight that you can comfortably tolerate on top of the ball.
  • Roll your body over the entire length of the muscle.
  • Aim for 2 minutes each side.

stretches

I have divided these stretches into 3 different levels of intensity (light, moderate, strong).

(Note: If you have lower back issues, start on light stretches and progress as appropriate.)


A) Light stretch

1. Knee to chest

  • Target area: Lower Quadratus Lumborum

lower back stretch

Instructions:

  • Lie on your back.
  • Bring your knees up and hug your knees towards your chest.
  • Be sure to keep your legs completely relaxed.
    • (The arms should be doing all of the work.)
  • Gently hug your knees towards your chest.

2. Child’s pose

  • Target area: Lower Quadratus Lumborum

stretch for tight ql muscle

Instructions:

  • Start in a crawling position.
  • Sit on your completely bent legs. (see above)
    • Bring your buttocks towards the back of your ankles.
  • Stretch out both arms and place them in front of you.
  • Aim to round your lower back as much as possible.
    • Tuck your tail bone underneath you.
  • To stretch the left side, reach out both arms to the opposite right side. (and vice versa)

3. Side tilt (standing)

  • Target area: Upper Quadratus Lumborum

QL stretch standing

Instructions:

  • Whilst standing, place your left hand on left hip.
  • Push your hip towards the right.
  • Whilst reaching over to the left with your right hand, tilt your torso to the left.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the right side.
  • Repeat on other side.

4. Side tilt (sitting)

  • Target area: Upper Quadratus Lumborum

how to stretch quadratus lumborum

Instructions:

  • Sit crossed leg on the floor.
  • Pin and maintain your right leg down.
  • Reach over to the left side with your right arm.
  • Feel the stretch on the right side.
  • Repeat on the other side.

B) Moderate stretch

5. Side lie on exercise ball

  • Target area: Upper and Lower Quadratus Lumborum

tight quadratus lumborum

Instructions:

  • Lie on your side on an exercise ball.
  • Keep your feet near a wall to maintain balance.
  • Reach over with the arm on the upper side.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the upper side.
  • Repeat on other side.

6. Side lie on bed

  • Target area: Lower Quadratus Lumborum

ql stretches

Instructions:

  • Lie on your side on the bed.
  • Allow for your upper leg to hang off the side.
    • (Keep lower leg on bed)
  • Reach over with the upper arm and hold onto something stationary to keep you pinned down.
  • Relax your upper leg and allow gravity to pull you into the stretch.
  • Do not let your pelvis rotate forwards.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the upper side.
  • Repeat on other side.

7. Wall lean

  • Target area: Upper Quadratus Lumborum

quadratus lumborum stretch against wall

Instructions:

  • Place your right forearm onto the wall.
  • Position your legs away from the wall.
  • Lean the right side of your body onto the wall.
    • Aim to have the side of your mid section completely in contact with the wall. (as opposed to just your hip)
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side closer to the wall.
  • Repeat on other side.

8. Side lie QL stretch

  • Target area: Upper Quadratus Lumborum

Side lie QL stretch

Instructions:

  • Lie down on your side.
  • Prop your upper body onto your forearm.
  • Whilst keeping your pelvis pinned to the ground, try to push your torso as up right as possible.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the upper Quadratus Lumborum on the side closest to the floor.
  • Repeat on other side.

9. Pelvic side tilt

  • Target area: Lower Quadratus Lumborum

lower quadratus lumborum stretch

Instructions:

  • Whilst standing, lean all the way over to your right side.
  • Allow your left leg to lift and dangle.
    • Keep it relaxed!
  • Allow gravity to pull your left leg down.
  • Do not let your pelvis rotate.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the left side.
  • Repeat on other side.

C) Strong stretch

10. Wall stretch

  • Target area: Upper/Lower Quadratus Lumborum

quadratus lumborum stretch

Instructions:

  • Assume the position above.
  • Whilst holding onto the door frame, let your upper arm take the weight of your body.
    • “Let your body hang”
  • Whilst anchoring your legs as shown, aim to bend your mid section as much as possible.
    • Use your body weight to sink into the stretch
  • Repeat on other side.

11. Side lie QL stretch (elevated)

  • Target area: Upper Quadratus Lumborum

advanced quadratus lumborum stretches

Instructions:

  • Lie down on your side.
  • Prop your forearm onto a chair.
  • Whilst keeping your pelvis pinned to the ground, try to push your torso as up right as possible.
  • Repeat on other side.

12. Side bend (with wide stance)

upper quadratus lumborum stretch

Instructions:

  • Start with your feet wide apart with your left foot turned out to the side.
  • With arms outstretched, start to bend all the way to your left side.
  • Aim to reach your upper arm as far to the left as possible.
  • Keep your body in line with your left leg.
    • Do not rotate your body.
  • Keep your legs fairly straight.
  • Repeat on other side.
  • Target area: Upper Quadratus Lumborum

Conclusion

By now, you should have 12 different ways to do a Quadratus Lumborum stretch!

You do NOT have to do ALL of them.

Pick the ONE that gives you the best stretch… and do it regularly!


What to do next

1. Any questions?… Leave me a comment down below.

2. Come join me on the Facebook page. Let’s keep in touch!

3. Start doing the QL stretches!

63 thoughts on “Quadratus Lumborum Stretch (12 Different exercises)”

  1. hey mark thanks a lot to gave us such best exercises can you plz help me . I have a problem in my lower back and i don,t know which of problem it is . this takes me 4 months doc said that my spine is pressed at the bottom due to lift over load at back so that,s why my side muscles tighten is it also QL .

    If it is , then plz suggest me which exercise is good for me . and it take,s how much time to pain relief

    Reply
  2. Hi Mark,

    Just wanted to say thank you. I was diagnosed with scoliosis over a decade ago and finally went to see a therapist last year during a Chiropractic treatment. In the course of the treatment I developed (or perhaps I fully felt the effects) a lateral pelvic tilt. I went to get a second round of PT for the tilt, but no one could pin point exactly why I still had pain despite the exercises and adjustments they assigned for me. I did some research and I found your page and was able to determine that the cause of my hip pain was due to the QL which was never addressed during my PT sessions. I’ve only been implementing some of your stretches for a month and the pain went from a 7/10 to a 2/10. I’ve never been one to dwell in my conditions, but I prefer to live without pain and your blog has given me hope and motivation to ensure a pain free lifestyle. Again, Thank you! Keep it up.

    Reply
    • Hey KB,

      Every once in awhile, I get left awesome comments such as this one.

      It’s awesome that your pain went from 7/10 to 2/10 from the exercises in just 1 month! (Hopefully, you’ll be 100% pain free soon)

      Thanks for this comment. I am going to save it!

      Mark

      Reply
  3. Hi Mark I have probation of the left foot and my right ql is always chronically tight while other one is long and weak any suggestions I wear orthotics but still have tight all through the right side of my body

    Reply
  4. Hi Mark, for the Quadratus Lumborum stretches, should I target the lower back or the upper back area? Or one stretch of each?
    Thanks
    Pushkar

    Reply
    • Hey Pushkar,

      I would stick with the one that gives you the most relief/benefit.

      Depending on how you use the QL will usually give you where you need to stretch.

      Mark

      Reply

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