I have been having some issues with my QL (quadratus lumborum), the band of muscle deep in around the mid-section that stabilizes the hip. Then my glute started to ache. I cut down on any exercises that used that area. But after a few agonizing plane flights, no improvement. The best I could do was pay very close attention to my posture and the correct curve of my lower spine, and I could sort of mitigate the pain.
Pilates helped somewhat. It identified a weakness in my lower rotational muscles. I tried the foam roller, I tried a hard lacrosse ball to get into the muscle, but nothing really worked. My go-to body genie, Dr. Ryan at Urban Med, had a look and pronounced my QL to be “wooden.” Not really what I want in my live muscle tissue, but the good news was that my spine was fine. The dreaded disk injury was a figment of my Google-fired imagination.
The suggestion was manual therapy — which is a euphemism for a very strong, highly skilled guy using his power as an effective meat tenderizer on my posterior chain. Did this hurt? Oh yes, very much. The key was that he combined it with a loaded stretch of the muscles. First tenderize, then strip the fascia, then he would use his strength to stretch me.
Did it work? Yes! My QL is now calmed down. I have no pain walking or bending, and much more rotational mobility. I am not that big on massages, as they seem pleasant and all but not all that effective for the most part. This, however, was something completely different. This was a massage in more of a pro-sports recovery modality.
There are 2 main parts of fitness: strength and cardio conditioning. There is also stretching, balance and flexibility, all of which I try to do daily. But it turns out that there are certain parts of self-care that the self can’t do — we need someone else to do it for us. For some of us more stubborn folks, it can be hard to admit we sometimes can’t do it ourselves. We like to tough it out, which only makes the muscles worse as they accommodate our stubbornness. Next time this happens to me, and there will surely be a next time, I’ll be making an appointment right away.