Quadratus Lumborum

Human Movement Science & Functional Anatomy of the:

Quadratus Lumborum

by Brent Brookbush MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS


Quadratus Lumborum – http://www.courses.vcu.edu/DANC291-003/3d610009.jpg

Quadratus Lumborum (QL):

  • Origin: Iliolumbar ligament, iliac crest, and occasionally from upper borders of the transverse processes of the lower three or four lumbar vertebrae (11).
  • Insertion:  The inferior border of the last rib and transverse processes of the upper four lumbar vertebrae (11).
    • The quadratus lumborum is bordered by the deepest layer of the thoracolumbar fascia and psoas anteriorly and the middle layer of the thoracolumbar fascia and erector spinae posteriorly.  The lateral border of the quadratus lumborum may be palpated (easiest in prone) by using your index fingers to find the transverse processes of LI and L5, and your thumbs to find the edge of the 12th rib and posterior crest of ilium.  This creates a square that borders the QL.    Slide your thumbs toward one another.  Use slow firm pressure to sink your  thumbs deep and medially and you should feel the edge of the QL.  If you are unsure have the person you are palpating hip hike; the QL should pop into your fingers (14).
  • Nerve: Lumbar Plexus via


Quadratus Lumborum — 22 Comments

  1. Brent. Nice job. I write books with Dr. Chaitow and you might have this reference wrong. He publishes with Elsevier. Sandy Fritz

    5.Leon Chaitow, Muscle Energy Techniques: Third Edition, © Pearson Professional Limited 2007

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  13. I have a history of an unstable right SIJ and a very TTP right QL. I recently got sick and spent the day in bed coughing l like crazy. Soon after the episode i now have radiating pain down my right leg to my knee and sometimes to my foot. I can place pressure in a caudal direction on my right iliac crest sometimes and can manually mobilize it with a “crack.” I’m wondering if my tight QL dislodged my right innominant with an upslip after so much coughing and is now causing nerve compression in my lumbar spine of mainly L3/L4/L5? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated:)

    • Really tough call Denny,
      Your QL is more likely the cause of anteriorly rotated innominate on the same side, and this is very often paired with lumbar dysfunction. Further your QL and piriformis are the most likely muscles contributing to nerve impingement.
      At some point you are going to have to address the dysfunction as a whole, rather than trying to find the one muscle or one joint that is causing you pain. I am willing to bet that if you created an exercise program that successfully reduced your SIJ instability this would happen less and less often.
      You can look up my article on Sacroiliac Joint Motion and Predictive Model of Dysfunction for more ideas.

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