Running along the back of each thigh, the hamstring muscles can reduce motion in your pelvis when these muscles become tight or strained. Tense hamstrings can also affect your posture and further contribute to lower back issues. Minimize this potential source of back pain by getting into the habit of performing regular hamstring stretches.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
This stretch can also be performed while lying on your back on the floor if you have existing low back pain. Otherwise, the stretch is normally performed by:
- Standing up
- Keeping your shoulders down and relaxed
- Bending forward at the waist
- Letting arms hang down and keeping legs straight
- Reaching down as if touching your toes*
- Repeating the stretch 4-5 times
*There is no need to actually touch your toes with any stretch that involves this motion. Instead, stop when you feel the stretch to avoid placing too much strain on your back.
Wall Hamstring Stretch
Considered an advanced hamstring stretch, this one can still be performed without too much stress on your back. Start by lying on the floor with buttocks against the wall. Place one foot against the wall and push your knee straight. Repeat with the other leg.
Chair Hamstring Stretch
This low-impact stretch is done while sitting on one chair and using another to support your legs. Set up two chairs facing each other, a few feet apart. Sit in one, and place one leg on the other chair that’s in front of you. Reach forward towards your toes on that leg before repeating with the other leg.
Towel Hamstring Stretch
Very low impact yet still effective, this stretch is performed while lying on the floor on your back. Simply raise one leg and straighten it out. Wrap a towel behind the foot on the outstretched leg. Repeat with the other leg.
Note: Each stretch is held for about 30 seconds.
While stretching your hamstrings is generally a good thing, you want to avoid “dangerous” stretches that put too much pressure on your lower back. Before starting any regular fitness program, check with a board-certified orthopedic doctor–and don’t forget to do some warm-up exercises first before you get into the stretches.
Stretching is just one of many conservative measures that can provide pain relief. If you’re living with chronic pain that hasn’t responded to stretching, massage, or other non-surgical treatments, contact The Spine Institute, a leading Los Angeles spine surgery center. Our experienced team of specialists can discuss additional options for pain relief and help you rediscover a pain-free lifestyle. Call (310) 828-7757 today and schedule an in-person consultation.