Could your Lower Back Pain be caused by Tight Hamstrings?
March 1, 2021
The hamstrings are a set of big muscle groups located at the top posterior (back) of the legs. They run right into our sit bones. These muscles are responsible for supporting the knees, hips, and pelvis. The hamstrings help us with walking, bending, running, jumping and squatting movements. Athletes tend to experience strains that can take a long of time to heal because these muscle groups are responsible for helping us perform a lot of lower body movements.
Seniors tend to experience tight hamstrings that can lead to strains and back pain because of the opposite – inactivity. It’s no lie that the pandemic has caused a lot of seniors to stay indoors limiting their options for physical activity. Not everyone is fortunate to have access to safe walking trails or free Livestream classes like we do at Pisgah Valley Retirement Community. If you’re still stuck in, here are some stretches to help loosen those tight hammies and hopefully reduce or eliminate lower back pain at the same time.
Hamstrings and the lower back.
As you can see in the image, the hamstrings (highlighted in red) stretch from the knee up to the sit bones. Believe it or not, the hamstrings play a very important role in our posture. Sitting puts a lot of pressure on the back and especially the lower back. When one has been seated for extended periods of time, the hamstrings will begin to get tighten and pull the pelvis out of alignment. When this happens the lower back will naturally try to correct that poor alignment which can cause pain.
How to loosen tight hamstrings and bring relief to the lower back
The good thing is, hamstrings can be stretched and exercised and if performed on a regular basis, you can avoid severe back pain due to tight hamstrings. Here are a few stretches to try at home: ,Strong>Lying Hamstring Stretch with Assistance You will need a yoga strap or towel to assist you in performing this hamstring stretch lying down.
- Lay flat on the floor. You can use a mat or rug for cushion.
- Extend one leg out front resting on the floor and raise one leg up in the air.
- Use a yoga strap or towel and loop it around the toes on the raised leg.
- Try to straighten the knee as much as possible. If you cannot, that is okay. Once you feel a stretch on the back of the leg, stop at that point and breathe for 3-5 deep breaths.
- Repeat on the other leg.
This stretch can be performed in a chair as well. Keep one foot planted to the floor and lift the other leg with a strap or towel.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
No equipment needed.
- Stand with feet about hip width apart.
- Extend one leg in front and lift the toes up while keeping the heel planted.
- Lean forward with a flat back and rest the hands on the upper thigh of the extended leg.
- Once you feel the stretch in the back of the thigh, hold that pose and practice deep breaths.
- Hold for 3-5 deep breaths and repeat on the other leg.
If you feel that you have practiced hamstring stretches but your lower back pain persists, it is always best to visit your regular physician. In more extreme cases, physical therapy could be a practical treatment option. A good physical therapist will know where to strengthen and lengthen the right muscles to reduce or eliminate lower back pain caused by tight hamstrings.