The quadratus lumborum (QL) is your deepest abdominal muscle. It’s found in your lower back, between the top of your pelvis and your lowest rib.

The QL supports good posture and helps stabilize your spine when you bend to the side or extend your lower back.

Working some QL stretches into your fitness routine can improve flexibility in your back and relieve old aches and pains while helping prevent new ones.

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  1. From a kneeling position, extend your right leg to the side with your toes facing forward or to the right.
  2. Bend to the right, placing your right hand along your leg.
  3. Extend your left arm up and over, reaching to the right.
  4. Extend through your left fingertips and roll your left ribs up toward the ceiling.
  5. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
  6. Repeat on the opposite side.

  1. From a standing position, raise your arms overhead and interlace your fingers.
  2. Press into your feet and legs as you tilt to the right. You’ll feel a stretch from your hips to the tips of your fingers.
  3. Tuck in your chin and gaze down toward the floor.
  4. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat on the left side.
  6. Repeat 2–4 times on each side.

To deepen the stretch, hold one wrist with your opposite hand as you stretch, or cross one leg in front of the other.

  1. Stand with your feet wider than your hips, your right toes facing forward, and your left toes out at a slight angle.
  2. Raise your arms so they’re parallel to the floor, with your palms facing down.
  3. Hinge at your right hip as you extend your right fingers forward.
  4. Pause here, and then lower your right hand to your right leg or a block.
  5. Place your left hand on your hip or extend it up toward the ceiling with your palm facing away from your body.
  6. Turn your head to look in any direction.
  7. Lengthen your spine as you engage your core and lower back muscles.
  8. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
  9. Repeat on the other side.

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  1. Stand with your feet wider than your hips, your right toes facing forward, and your left toes out at a slight angle.
  2. Keep your hips facing forward.
  3. Raise your arms so they’re parallel to the floor, with your palms facing down.
  4. Fold halfway forward, pausing when your torso is parallel to the floor.
  5. Lower your left hand to your right leg, a block, or the floor.
  6. Raise your right arm straight up, turning your palm away from your body.
  7. Gaze down at the floor, to the side, or up at your extended hand.
  8. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
  9. Repeat on the left side.

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  1. Stand with your feet wide, your right toes facing forward, and your left toes out at a slight angle.
  2. Bend your right knee forward so it’s above your ankle.
  3. Raise your arms so they’re parallel to the floor.
  4. Bend at your hips, bringing your right hand down to the floor in front of your calf.
  5. Extend your left arm up and forward with your palm facing down.
  6. Draw your belly to your spine and tuck your chin in toward your chest.
  7. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
  8. Repeat on the other side.

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  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet in toward your hips.
  2. Relax your upper body and tuck your chin in slightly.
  3. Engage your core as you press the small of your back into the floor.
  4. Hold for 5 seconds. Relax for a few breaths.
  5. Repeat 8–15 times.

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  1. Lie on your back with your upper body relaxed and your chin tucked in toward your chest.
  2. Bend your knees and bring your feet in toward your hips.
  3. Gently drop your knees to the right, keeping your upper body stable. If your knees don’t touch the floor, rest them on a block or cushion.
  4. On the next breath, return to the starting position.
  5. Drop your knees to the left. This completes 1 rep.
  6. Do 2–3 sets of 8–10 reps.

For added support, place a flat cushion under your head. You can also place a block or pillow between your knees for comfort.

This relaxing pose helps relieve stress and pain.

  1. Begin on your hands and knees, with your big toes touching and your knees slightly wider than hip width.
  2. Lower your buttocks to your heels and extend your arms straight out in front.
  3. Bring your awareness to your lower back, focusing on relaxing it.
  4. Stay in this position for up to 5 minutes.

To deepen the stretch, gently walk your hands to the right, sinking deeper into your hips. Then move back to center and walk your hands to the left.

You can place a cushion under your forehead, chest, or thighs for comfort.

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  1. From a seated position, extend your right leg and bring your left heel in toward your groin.
  2. Bend to the right, placing your right elbow on your leg, a block, or the floor with your palm facing up.
  3. Extend your left arm up toward the ceiling and bring it down toward your right foot.
  4. Tuck your chin in toward your chest and gaze up toward the ceiling.
  5. Hold this pose for up to 1 minute.
  6. Repeat on the left side.

To deepen the stretch, sit on the edge of a flat cushion or folded blanket.

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  1. Lie on your back with both feet flat on the floor.
  2. Gently bring both knees in toward your chest.
  3. Wrap your arms around your legs.
  4. Hold your opposite elbows or wrists with your hands. If you can’t reach, use a strap or clasp the backs of your thighs.
  5. Tuck in your chin slightly to lengthen the back of your neck.
  6. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
  7. Relax for a few breaths.
  8. Repeat 2–3 times.

For added ease, do this pose one leg at a time. Extend the opposite leg or bend your knee and place your foot flat on the floor.

Build up a stretching routine slowly and gradually. You may experience some discomfort when you begin these exercises, but it should subside within a few weeks.

Be careful doing these stretches if you have any medical condition that could be affected by movement.

Avoid forward bends if you’re experiencing low back pain. Instead, opt for stretches that can be done while lying on your back. This position is less stressful on your back and can help relieve pain and prevent injury.