It’s understandable to assume back pain is related to something going on directly within your spine. To be fair, this could very well be the case if a damaged disc, vertebra, or spinal joint is irritating a nearby nerve. However, there are other structures that could also affect your back, including your hamstrings. Here’s a closer look at how hamstrings and spine health are connected and what you can do to avoid back pain related to these muscles.
The hamstrings are three muscles located along the back of each thigh. These muscles start in the hips and continue down to the two long bones in the leg (tibia and fibula). They allow you to bend at your knees and make other movements in this area.
Your spine is more likely to be affected by your hamstrings when these muscles are tight. When this happens, added stress is placed on a part of your pubic bone called the ischial tuberosity. This added pressure slightly pushes the pelvis backward. A domino effect can happen and cause nearby joints to be affected enough to cause lumbar (lower back) vertebrae to shift forward.
Tight hamstrings make your lower back work harder than it should have to when you bend forward. If this happens on a regular basis, the added stress may contribute to:
There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing spine-related issues due to tight hamstrings. One of the simple things you can do is make an effort to get up and move around as much as possible if you normally spend most of your day sitting at work. Regular movement also boosts the circulation that’s necessary to maintain a steady flow of beneficial nutrients. Avoiding tobacco products is another way to minimize circulation issues.
Hamstrings can also be kept flexible with regular exercise that targets these muscles. There are many different options, but the ones often recommended for this purpose include:
Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding foods that contribute to inflammation are some other ways you can minimize spine-related issues involving your hamstrings. Watching your posture is equally important. This is because habitually poor posture when sitting and standing can put added stress on your lower back and nearby muscle groups like the hamstrings.
Oftentimes, back pain related to tight hamstrings is manageable if you adopt a regular exercise routine that targets the lower body. If you exercise consistently and you’re still experiencing pain in this area, see your doctor or a Santa Monica spine surgeon to find out if other factors may be contributing to your discomfort.
If you need more advice on how to keep your spine healthy, reach out to the spinal health specialists at The Spine Institute. Dr. Bae and his team of expert surgeons specialize in spinal fusion surgery and fusion alternatives like lumbar disc replacement. Santa Monica residents can get more information and schedule an in-person evaluation by calling our office today at 310-828-7757.