Oh, my aching back!

It might be your Quadratus Lumborum, or QL, for short, causing the problem.


The QL, attaching the lowest rib, the lumbar portion of the spine, and the top of the pelvic bowl, helps maintain vertical alignment.

Sitting too long in one position affects the stabilizer muscles of the vertebrae, or the spine, effectively turning them off. When these muscles no longer work properly to support the spine and lower back, then the QL takes up the slack. Which is a job it’s not meant to do.

Over time, overuse of the QL results in their fatigue, tightness, decreased blood flow, and scarring. This can be compounded by poor posture in the upper back (which often accompanies our sitting habit) that causes the QL and its surrounding muscles to work even harder in a seated and standing position.

If you are someone who has tight hips and glutes because they are not being worked to their full potential, then you most likely have tight QLs; the QL will compensate by becoming the prime mover of the hip joint. This results in a gait that hikes the hip upward with each step.

Hiking the hip upward in this fashion leads to compression of the lumbar region due to excessive side bending. The resulting tightness in the QL can be a source of pain in the lower back.

How Can Nia Help?

In every Nia class, we stretch, move, activate, contract and release all our muscles. Moving to varied music with varied speeds and intensities, we allow all our muscle groups to be used so we don’t remain stuck in one position or motion. Following the body’s design and structure, we create opportunity to re-align ourselves physically, which often translates to emotionally, mentally and spiritually as well!

Each class ends with stretching either upright or on the floor, so we pay attention to legs, arms and the torso with releasing stretches.

Find a Nia class near you!