AUCH! My Back Hurts!

By Rosane Collier

Back pain is the second most common reason people go to the doctors.  Guess what? It might be your quadrates lumborum (kwa-DRAY-tus lum-BOR-um).  Now that you know how to pronounce it, let’s talk about it a little bit.

There, it is. Nice picture of it!

The quadrates lumborum, let’s call it QL, is responsible for side bending as well keeps us steady while we perform complex movements that need coordination between our upper and lower bodies. This baby works hard.

As far as massage is concerned, it is not an easy muscle to access manually, as it lies deep to the lumbar paraspinal muscles (erector spinae) and the thick layers of fascia and aponeurotic tissue or the lumbar region.  The fibers are oblique, the upper fibers from lateral to medial, lower fibers medial to lateral, and the architecture is parallel. That’s too much information.

Let’s talk about what we can do to ease our pain, from carrying back packs to horseback riding and so on.  First we need to figure out if the QL is your problem.


Start with palpation: it can be palpated with thumb or finger tips from the side between the last rib and the top of the hip.  Technically jargon alert:  It’s underneath the paraspinal muscles and lumbar aponeurosis between the last floating rib and the iliac crest.  Just a word of caution, when working in a upward direction on QL, do not place excessive pressure on the last rib. It is a unsupported Floating Rib that is joined to the T12 vertebra.  It can be broken with enough pressure.


1.)  Myofascial Stretch (That is very good)  As you can see a picture is worth a million words.

The client lies prone, and the therapist places their hand nearest the client’s hand flat on the lumbar area lateral to the vertebrae with the fingers over the iliac crest just lateral to the sacrum. Crossing the other hand over or under the first, place it flat on the thoracic area over the lowest three or four ribs. Press the hands in opposite directions, with enough downward pressure to engage and stretch the superficial fascia. Hold until you feel significant release in the fascia. Shift both hands laterally, toward yourself, by one hand’s width and repeat the technique.

2.)  Foam Rolling

There are many techniques that can be done and showed to your client or friend, and one of the best is foam rolling, which is easy and efficient.

3.)  Tennis Ball

Another one is the tennis ball, which can be placed on the back along with another under your gluteus, even when you are driving.  Very simple but has great results.


Try any of these techniques and comment on your experience.  Have fun!

35 thoughts on “AUCH! My Back Hurts!”

  1. Ross, thanks again for keeping me in the loop. I still read these and sometimes learn a little bit more. From my experience, it CAN be a little difficult to work the QL, and it all depends upon the client, of course. One of my favorite ways is to have the client supine and gently work using their own weight. That really helps to ease the muscle for more possible work when they are prone. This one is a ‘skitchy’ muscle, because so many people don’t realize they abuse it, so caution is certainly the key word, and it can be easy to bruise on some. Which of course, doesn’t help the client if the therapist is too rough. Lymphatic Drainage works really well here too. Thank you, Chikly Institute!

  2. I dont have a lot of back problems, but I tried the foam rolling technique. Which in my opinion felt really good to me. I will have to attempt the tennis ball technique though!!!

    thank u!

  3. Good exactly what I thought and I needed to know. Those are the spots that I did with the tennis ball prior to reading this blog because I was in dire need of it. I feel much better after performing the technique and hopefully it won’t persist until Monday (my soreness). If it does I’ll just request somebody to work in that area and to specifically use myofascial stretching.

  4. I like the foam rolling and think it works great. I haven’t tried a tennis ball, but that does seem interesting and might have ti try that one sometime. Good blog. I have lower back pain quite frequently so this should help with that.

  5. LOVE the Foam roller!!! and The tennis ball ya kinda gotta get use to it when driving, at first is very uncomfortable.

  6. Congrats Rosane on your blog!!! So owww the foam rolling hurts so good guess my fascia needs serious help

  7. This is great that you chose this one this week! I say that because my husband is a welder, and he is complaining of back pain specifically in this area! I am going to go home and try some of these techniques and see if they alleviate some of the pain. I am also going to remind him to be conscious of his posture!

  8. Id have to say besides my shoulders, my lower back bothers me the most. Now that I know how to palpate to see if this is my problem, I can teach it out to someone else. Or maybe I will be nice and try it on my boyfriend to help him out. We’ll see 😛

  9. Besides my shoulders, my lower back bothers me the most. Now that I know how to palpate the QL I can teach it out to someone, or maybe I can be nice to my boyfriend and help him.. We shall see 😛

  10. I really liked this blog because it was humerus. I have tried both of these techniques and I like the foam roller the best. It covers a larger area of muscle and seems to spread the pain out evenly and not leaving much behind. Whereas the tennis ball is more of a single trigger point helper. The pain just grows in a bigger circle but doesn’t really go away. Turns into a cramp like problem.

  11. My lower back is the second most painful spot in my body, 1st being the shoulders of course. I never really thought the QL could be a cause of low back pain, I always think it’s the iliopsoas. I also think the foam rollers work fabulously to release that tight fascia…. the fascia in my lower back seems to be the worst.

  12. I really like the foam roller and tennis ball techniques. Although, I haven’t tried the tennis ball in the car yet. I like these techniques because you can perform them on yourself. I think we should have Foam Roller Tuesdays to go along with our Yoga Thursdays 😉

  13. Sitting on a tennis ball while I’m driving?! I’m going to have to try that very soon. I always have lower back pain from standing on my feet at work all day long.

  14. I have used the foam roller along with the tennis ball. They are both great.
    Tennis ball works well on the feet to.

  15. I have sat on many things (while in the car) trying to relax the gluts I love the tennis ball. it works wonders, foam rolling is amazing and works all over the body. As for pain in the low back (I have plenty of) I know the stretch Rosane speaks of is amazing as well.

  16. I have had back problems for the past three years and I occasionally do the foam roll and it helps me out a lot. its a great way to relax the muscles in my back.

  17. These blogs are full of such great info. Great job on this one Rosane! I will try the tennis ball technique and definitely plan on investing in a foam roller, they are awsome!

  18. I do tend to have a lot of back problems. It is sometimes not easy to be 19 (almost 20) to have back problems so young. I really want to find ways to not have a lot of this kind of situation so much.

  19. Totally loved the foam roller routine…so soothing and simple to do at home. I stretch daily and will remember this technique when lower back is an issue!

  20. I totally loved the foam roller technique…so easy to do and really helpful for sore back muscles. I stretch every morning, and will add this to my routine whenever I have back issues happening.

  21. The QL was a pretty sensitive muscle on me. I really enjoy doing the foam rolling and tennis ball techniques. The myofascial stretch definitely works, it’s just hard for me to do on other people and I’m not real sure why.

  22. I have a lot of lower back problems because of my weight the foam roller makes it simple to help my back feel better myself I like it.

  23. I remember when we did foam rolling in class. It was the first time I had felt more flexibly and energetic after exercising. Don’t get me wrong in some places foam rolling hurt but it was a good kind of hurt. Sense that day I have gone out and purchased a foam roller and have been using it every day. It was the first step to improving my life and one of the best things I could do for myself. Great article Rosane!! it was awesome.

  24. I believe this topic acknowledges something that many people go through. Most everybody, if not everybody, have gone through back pain of some kind in their life. While I have not tried any of these techniques they sound like they would work wonders and I definitely want to give them a try.

  25. Wow loved the blog, I can’t say that the tennis ball was very effective because of scar tissue in my back. however the foam technique was a great help and very effective. Love learning about these new techniques

  26. Looking at the news this morning, I noticed an article about staying fit trends. Myofascial release was on the list. I think it’s starting to catch on.

  27. Great blog!!! I love me some foam roller!! Though I don’t have a lot of back pain, I find the exercises simple and super relaxing!!!

  28. What a good blog! I don’t have a lot of back pain but i thought these were good exercises to try! I ended up trying the foam roller and tennis ball. The foam roller hurt worse, although it felt great after! Definitely considering my own roller in the future!

  29. I got a foam roller for Christmas about three years ago from my sister. When I initially opened up the present to find a foam roller… I wasn’t too thrilled about it. I had never used one before and thought it was like one of those devises you see on late night infomercials. I was very much surprised to find out that it works wonders on the body. My back specifically had been tight and giving me problems. When I get on the foam roller, it not only loosens the muscles, but it pops my back which feels so good. I have yet to try the tennis ball technique, but I am very intrigued by it.

  30. I have a friend that has constant back problems so i let her try the foam roller technique. She told me that it really helped her with some of the pain she was feeling. The tennis ball technique was interesting to me, because i play a lot of tennis. The next time I go play i will be sure to drive to the courts with my tennis ball in place. Who knows it might just help me with my back stroke.

  31. I don’t really have any back problems at all just in my shoulders so i had my boyfriend roll a tennis ball around on my shoulders and it felt awesome when he was done.