The Pivot Blocking Effect of the Quadratus Lumborum Muscle, Part 2

By Dr. Matthew M. Rosman, GSEE
Director of Biomechanics and Sports Science, The Golfing Machine, LLC

In Part 2, the discussion will focus on more clinically related pertinent elements associated with the QL.  Part 1 provided information about the QL’s origin, insertion, resultant joint action, as well as its powerful assistance (for lateral flexion of the lumbar spine) with ipsilateral (same side) contribution provided by the internal and external oblique muscles.

The activities of daily living of each golfer outside that of golf participation along with inherent biomechanical related vertebral column functional and structural alignment characteristics are key foundation based factors that will “calibrate” how the QL will “behave” upon comporting the biomechanical system to the alignments and pose arrangements of GBP™.

In fact, it is important again to state that the methodology and procedural “means” (The Golfing Machine, 9-0) selected by the golfer by which GBP is formed will also favorably or unfavorably contribute to the static and dynamic competency by which all Alignment, Rhythm, and Timing (A.R.T.™) functions will be executed and displayed by the golfer. How GBP is formed matters!  

Personal inherent and acquired neuromusculoskeletal characteristics such as that of scoliosis, disc pathology, degenerative articular and endplate degradation, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, rib cage distortion, alterations to specific sectional lordotic and kyphotic biomechanical curvatures, and so, on, all impart static and dynamic distortions which impair grounding, center of gravity, muscle pliability characteristics, chain interaction propulsion of Zone One, rhythmic interaction of all Three Zones, etc.  

Compensatory muscle laxity or excessive tension will be commonplace with nearly every golfer due to accommodations to activities of daily living, past traumas, overuse syndromes, occupational conditions, and ancillary activities which create fatigue, wear, distortions and or degradations to optimal patterns of motion conducted by the biomechanical system. Relative states of global muscle laxity and muscle tension patterns will vary from golfer to golfer but certain muscles and muscle groups will be more vulnerable clinically.

Practicing various golf motions, set-up, and execution patterns at the “learning acquisition stage” yield many undisciplined as well as un-lawful executions.  These undisciplined executions lack adequate containment and boundary safeguards yielding inadequate and inconsistent alignments and alignment utilizations producing erratic rhythmic orchestrations resulting in stressors upon the biomechanical system.  The fatigue of practice often exposes the biomechanical system to compensate for trial after trail of a biased, unilateral pattern of motion, yielding strain upon the musculoskeletal system. Impairments, imbalances, distortions, and deformations to the musculoskeletal system evolve as a result.

A key hub where structural misalignment occurs that may impart compensational impairments throughout the entire biomechanical system is located at the pelvic complex. The pelvic complex is a key hub where distortion at the base of support and/or muscle imbalance to any and all associated muscle attachments may result in impairments to structure, function, and flow of motion for the Swing Radius’ Zone One portion or Body Zone region.  

Clinical observation and inspection of the spatial orientation as well as general presentation of the pelvic complex will yield its classification status in Quiet Upright Standing as being in either in alignment or in misalignment.  An aligned pelvic complex is referred to as being in a state of “neutrality”.   

How is muscle status defined clinically? And, what is the clinically defined state of a neutral pose for the pelvic complex?

By referring to the text entitled, Muscles, Testing and Function with Posture and Pain, 5th Edition, by Florence Peterson Kendall, Elizabeth Kendall McCreary, Patricia Geise Provance, Mary McIntyre Rodgers, and William Anthony Romani (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins) in the Glossary section (page G-4) three key definitions are provided:

•    “Muscle balance. A state of equilibrium that exists when there is balance of strength of opposing muscles acting on a joint, providing ideal alignment for movement and optimal stabilization.”

•    “Muscle imbalance.  Inequality in strength of opposing muscles; a state of muscle imbalance exists when a muscle is weak and its antagonist is strong; leads to faults in alignment and inefficient movement.”

•    “Neutral position of the pelvis.  One in which anterior superior spines are in the same transverse plane, and the anterior-superior spines and the symphysis pubis are in the same vertical plane.”

Regarding the “neutral position of the pelvis” this same text on page 62 further states:

“In neutral position of the pelvis, there is a normal anterior curve in the low back.”

Thus, status of the “forward”, anterior-arc curvature of the lumbar spine (lordosis) is one key factor in the spatial orientation of the pelvic complex. A pelvic complex not in a biomechanically neutral state of position will be evident by an increase or decrease in the lordotic curvature of the lumbar spine.  An “arched” lower back (hyperlordosis) or a “flat” lower back (hypolordosis) provides clinical evidence of the lack of presence of a desired neutral state of position of the pelvic complex.

When the pelvic complex resides in a biomechanically non-neutral state of position such as when the lordosis of the lumbar spine is increased, the pelvic complex is defined as being in a state of anterior tilt.  When the lordosis of the lumbar spine is decreased, the pelvic complex is defined as being in a state of posterior tilt.

When the muscles that support and participate in lateral based joint action functions of the lumbar spine are not in state of “balance”, the pelvic complex is susceptible to tilt relative to the base of support.  The “tight” muscles may then induce an elevation of the pelvic complex on the same side.  The QL is a key muscle involved in lateral based joint action operation in the lumbar spine region.

Often, such a type of lateral pelvic tilt will foster a compensatory structural distortion of the vertebral column and may further produce compensatory deformation and misalignment to the ribcage, scapulae, as well as the skull causing a deviation from a stable and neutral arrangement. This distortion will further compromise all of the associated muscle groups which may further inflict muscle imbalance impairments throughout the entire biomechanical system. The net result with regard to the “choreography of pose execution” is that expected and predicted movement patterns may now display impaired, distorted, “sequence-challenged”, and/or “blocking” elements.

This is why on page 62 of this same referenced text the following is stated:

“Without minimizing the importance of proper foot positions that establish the base of support, it may be said that the position of the pelvis is the key to good or faulty postural alignment. The muscles that maintain good alignment of the pelvis, both anteriorposteriorly and laterally, are of utmost importance in maintaining good overall alignment.”
The QL has its unique and often commonplace susceptibility to muscle imbalance leading to irritation and adaptive as well as chronic over-activation.  The QL is part of a key grouping of muscles which act upon the pelvic complex playing a critical role in the baseline spatial orientation of the pelvis thereby determining the viability of the static and dynamic functional capacity “health’ of this key hub as it relates both activities of daily living and golf participation performance competency.

One particular example of chronic regional biomechanical imbalance leading to structural and functional distortion in the pelvic complex (a key hub in 9-1, Zone One or the Body Zone) is Lower Cross Syndrome.

In the text entitled, Management of Common Musculoskeletal Disorders, Fourth Edition, by Darlene Hertling BS, RPT and Randolph M. Kessler, MD, With Contributors (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, A Wolters Kluwer Company), on page 150, Lower Cross Syndrome’s (also referred to in this text as “pelvic crossed syndrome”) biomechanical impediment is described:

“Such an imbalance can adversely affect both the static and dynamic function of the region.136

In addition, this text further states on page 150:

“An imbalance can also exist in the lateral lumbopelvic musculature.  If weakness occurs in the gluteus medius (Fig 7-21) it can be compensated for by overactivity and tightness in the ipsilateral quadratus lumborum (Figs. 7-16B and 23-8) and tensor fascie latae (Fig 7-2).136

At first, initially, an assumption might be proposed that “fitness” or strength training would be an ideal approach toward tackling the dilemma of muscle group imbalance by immediately focusing on activities to bolster the clinically diagnosed weaker muscle group.  However, this aforementioned text on page 151 states:

“According to Janda’s clinical experience, to try to strengthen a weakened muscle first is futile, because its shortened antagonist will inhibit it.122, 136  Attention in the exercise program should be directed initially toward normalizing the length of the myofascial system.”

(Please note: “Janda” refers to Dr. Vladimir Janda, a physician whose research and clinical work, particularly in the classification of “movement patterns” and “muscle imbalance” was instrumental in defining the parameters, in collaboration with other researchers, associated with these “crossed syndromes”.  Source

When there are “imbalances” to those muscles which “attach” to the pelvic complex, such as the QL, the “neutral position” state of the pelvic complex is compromised with a misalignment spatial presentation, and the predicted, functionally based “movement patterns” are compromised.

For golfers, any structural compromise to the functionality of the biomechanical system can impair, impede, or impart synchronization disturbance to the Pivot.  Clinical factors as well as any improper technique understanding adversely disturbing performance application disturbs “means” (The Golfing Machine, 9-0), imparting faulty execution (The Golfing Machine, 1-K). Therefore, muscle imbalance involving the QL is an important facet to consider when clinical observation of a golfer reveals evidence of a Pivot Blocking event.  

This is why Mr. Kelley states in The Golfing Machine’s 1-K (7th Edition, page 8):

“Many things unintentionally affect the Stroke by affecting its execution.  This is merely faulty execution. It cannot be classified as a mechanical variation. (Study 10-24-F).”

A loss of the neutral position of the pelvis due to muscle imbalance such as found in the over-activation of the QL, can disturb movement patterns required for a proper Pivot leading to a Zone One disturbance that imparts faulty execution by the golfer when conducting the golf stroke.

Since, the golf address set up or GBP involves arrangement of the biomechanical system such that a clinically defined “neutral position of the pelvis” is altered, with the creation of a secondary spinal tilt, is there a methodology of approach that can produce the requirements for a functional GBP and minimize the potential for overactivation of the QL such that a Pivot Blocking effect may be reduced or minimized?

One important area for consideration in the creation of a viable technique based procedure for forming GBP is the alignment pre-preparation of the biomechanical system in Quiet Upright Standing to as optimal a pose alignment arrangement as is possible.  This procedure will include monitoring and navigation attention to orienting the pelvic complex into a neutral state of spatial position.   One such type of procedure has been discussed in the BIA™ Level One text, on pages 116-119 under the topic entitled, The BIA 8 Point Alignment System™.  The BIA P.A.R.-formancemanual also discusses other procedures and activities to develop the kinesthetic ability to monitor and navigate the biomechanical system (including the pelvic complex) into more optimally based as well as functionally beneficial alignment for all G.O.L.F. based stroke execution activities.     

Part 3 will continue the discussion.

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