Here in the Pacific Northwest, the early days of spring and their occasional sun-breaks are the perfect time to head outside and get as much gardening done as possible. I tend to see a lot of people developing low back and hip pain from overwork during this time. The longer lasting of these aches and pains can often be traced to one muscle in particular, Quadratus Lumborum (QL). 

QL is a roughly rectangular muscle that attaches to the tiny 12th rib, the sides of several lumbar vertebrae and to the top of the pelvis. It is just behind the infamous psoas and is the deepest muscle to still be located on the "back of the back." While its biggest movement is probably side-bending, I find the QL's most important function is assisting with the regular stability of our lumbar spine. It holds everything in place really well. Bending over in the yard for hours at a time pulls QL taut as it balances the spine. These taut muscle fibers will often cause pain to manifest across the hip and buttock as well as the low back area itself.

Massage geared toward the QL usually starts with slow fascial techniques to soften up the surrounding "gristle." Work will also be done from the side toward the spine instead of top down to create the idea of space between the muscle layers. I typically use some friction across the fibers of QL to encourage circulation and keep everything moving, giving the cells in the area an opportunity to heal and reset. Usually, some side stretches in the days after massage can help maintain the relief of the work itself. Just knowing that working in such a small area of the back has the potential to give people so much relief makes Quadratus Lumborum one of my favorite muscles.


Erik Cannard (he/him), LMT. Erik has been in practice since graduating from East West College of the Healing Arts in 2007. In 2019, Erik was a finalist for Willamette Week’s Best of Portland, and was the winner of Natural Awakenings Magazine “Nattie Awards” for Favorite Massage Therapist in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018, and 2019. Erik is passionate about restoring the natural balance in the body, and his work involving deep tissue massage, myofascial release, and trigger point therapy aims to do just that. When not in the office, you can find him reading fiction novels, playing pinball, practicing the trombone, or spending time with his wife and their dog, Charlotte.


Erik Cannard, LMT

Erik Cannard, LMT

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