The QL (quadratus lumborum) walk has been an instrumental movement in balancing my hips and stabilizing my core after my low back incident in July.
I love this exercise because it’s not a high intensity exercise. Although I advocate mindful movement even in the most “strong” and “hard” of exercises this is not a “grrrrr” movement like a heavy squat. You must be ultra sensitive to your position because it’s not a movement pattern most of us are used to.
Background on the QL
This targets the QL and helps to balance it on each side. Low back pain and even knee pain can be attributed to an asymmetrical muscle recruitment pattern of this area. This was a key contributor in my low back flare up in July.
Part of my diagnosis was asymmetrical engagement and length of the QL. This is the muscle of your lower back that connects the bottom of your rib cage to your pelvis. It acts as a core stabilizer and is essential for movements in the frontal plane (like the cossack squats I cover here). It can be isolated by doing side oblique work as well as this exercise.
This exercise puts us on the ground in a pike position sitting upright on our buttocks at a 90-degree angle with legs in front. Hold a weight at chest level with elbows in tight and shoulders away from ears. Proud chest and lengthened upper back. Toes are back towards shins, creating a light stretch all down the back of legs — hamstrings into the calves — depending on your flexibility and mobility. You then scoot one leg forward at a time, keeping your midline engaged. This isolates each leg at a time and works on you being able to isolate each leg without having to lean in a big fashion.
QL Walk is Self-Correcting
Other than the cues covered above this isn’t a complex exercise that should require a lot of mental strain. Of course, as you begin using this exercise, keep the cues in mind. But even if you do them “wrong,” your body is still adjusting a beginning to move in a more optimal fashion.
The QL walk is self-correcting because the more you perform the exercise, the more your body will begin to adjust and balance out its kinks, starting with this center area. This will have residual effects through the rest of the body, allowing it to bring you into a more harmonious balance head to toe.
QL Walk for Low Back Pain
This sense of restoring balance in the body will help with low back pain and associated disorders. None of us move in a perfectly balanced fashion, so our bodies will compensate in an effort to keep everything together.
Think of your QL as a tight piece of cloth. By doing the exercise, it makes the cloth wet and lubricated so it can become malleable enough to find more of a natural symmetrical function. This balance will take less pressure off of one half of your body and restore this throughout the system.
In my experience, my low back disorder centered around my right side being compressed, causing shooting pain. By isolating one leg at a time in this butt-scooting motion, the body can regain a sense of equilibrium, bringing you closer to your performance ceiling and optimal levels of vitality.
Throw the QL walk into your routine before/after training, especially before any high-end strength or power work. Spend a few minutes with it each time and grease the groove by doing it throughout your day for enhanced benefits. It will go a long way in helping you create a more balanced, solid, and stable foundation!
I cover more performance training tidbits at https://www.mobillitytraining.com/blog that will help you prepare, recover, and perform better on the mats!