Hamstring Exercises for Lower back pain
hamstrings insert on the ischial tuberosity, which is the sit bone -- it's
part of the pelvis -- and
extend all the way down to the knee. When they're tight, however, they shorten
and hence pull down on the pelvis, giving way to a posterior pelvic tilt and
then flattening out the lumbar spine so that the natural curve of the lumbar
spine is lost. And this puts the person at risk for a herniated disk and also
just overuse and
strain of the lumbar area.
Since your pelvis is the foundation of your lower back and
spine, having tight hamstrings contributes to an unstable lower back
and a greater chance of intermittent sprains and strains.
It is important to maintain a good hamstring length, if you're sitting a lot.
You can do some
stretches right at your desk.
How do you know if your hamstrings are tight?
The best way to assess hamstring length is to lie flat on your back and have
someone slowly raise one leg. Your leg must be completely relaxed, and you must
not help lift the leg with your own muscles. If your hamstrings are at an
appropriate length for your body, your leg can be raised to 90 degrees off the
ground (straight up towards the ceiling) without any significant tightness
anywhere along your hamstrings from behind your knee to your sitting bone
(pelvis). If you start to feel tightness before 90 degrees, you know itís time
Hamstring stretch while lying on the back
Most patients with back pain will benefit from hamstring stretching
exercises done while lying on the back. These are the least stressful types of
Lie on the back, supporting the thigh behind the knee with the hand or
with a towel, slowly
straighten the knee until a stretch is felt in the back of the thigh, trying
to get the bottom of the foot to face the ceiling, one leg at a time. Hold
the position initially for 10 seconds, and gradually work up to 20-30
Another low stress hamstring stretch is to lie back on the floor with
the buttocks against a wall at a corner or by a door jamb. Keeping one leg
on the floor, place the foot of the alternate leg against the wall and try
to gently push the knee straight so raised leg and the leg on the floor make
a 90 degree angle. Hold the position for 10 to 20 seconds.
Hamstring stretch while sitting
Although they are less gentle than lying on the back, hamstring stretches
can also be done in a sitting position, where the degree of stretch can be
varied based on the placement of the leg:
While sitting at the edge of a chair, straighten one leg in front of the
body with the heel on the floor. Then, sit up straight and try pushing the
navel towards the thigh without leaning the trunk of the body forwards. Hold
this stretch for 30 seconds, then repeat 3 times for each leg.
Many people Ė and especially women Ė tend to be more flexible and may
need to elevate the foot on a stool or chair to get a deep enough stretch.
It is best to stretch your hamstrings later on in the day, or after a good
warm up such as after a brisk
key is to get lots of blood going through your muscles before you stretch.
Alternating between legs for a few minutes each day is enough for most people.
You should hold any stretch for about ten to fifteen seconds. Don't bounce
into the stretch. And of course, always do both sides, so you're nice and even.
Many people with chronic
lower back pain can experience dramatic improvement after stretching their
hamstrings on a daily basis for 1-3 months. If you donít have lower back
problems, stretching your hamstrings everyday is an excellent preventive measure
that will keep your lower back and pelvis balanced for the years ahead.