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Why This Core Exercise Stinks For Low Back Pain

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Over the past 25 plus years of having clients come to me with all sorts of low back pain issues, I can tell you how we can often look at a problem the completely wrong way. For example, it is not uncommon for the Quadratus Lumborum (QL) becomes muscle that causes low back pain .

The what muscle you ask?

low back pain

This small muscle that connects on our spine and pelvis is often said to be a lateral bending muscle for our torso. That leads to a lot of people trying to strengthen this area by doing side bending exercises and trying to use trigger point therapy on the QL. While well intended, neither one solves the low back pain issue and the side bending can actually cause more low back pain to rise.


As this 2022 paper explains, “The QL is positioned laterally, but despite its position during a lateral tilt of the trunk, it exerts only a force of 10 N. QL participates with less than 10% of the force required for a coronal inclination.”

This means that the QL offers VERY little to any side bending of the body. Instead, we should look at the QL as an important part of the Lateral Sling system of the body. What’s the Lateral Sling an d how does the QL play a big part?

low back pain

This chain of muscles in the body provides required frontal plane stability. This is accomplished  by a force couple action between the glute medius and minimus, pulling the iliac crest towards the femur while the opposite quadrates lumborum and abdominal musculature assist by elevating the pelvis. This is how we can walk, run, climb stairs without falling over laterally.

Physical therapist, Jessica Bento does a great job of showing what is a better way of approaching the QL and lateral chain of the body to create better solutions in both helping low back pain and building functional strength that will carry over to many activities.

Coach Larisa Lotz highlights that we can keep the core stable while we emphasize moving through the hips. This idea will go a long way in helping low back pain issues as well, along with build way better glutes and more powerful posterior chain and even upper body.

Below, Lina Midla shows that we can combine these ideas into more power and strength based movements where we continue our challenge to have movement from areas of the body we want and avoid forces that would move our body in ways that make us weaker and less efficient. This is the very definition of stability training and should be worked from foundational up to high level forms of training. If we do, then we create solutions that allow us to not only make our bodies more resilient, but increase our performance in anything we want to do!

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