Are Tight Hamstrings Causing Your Lower Back Pain?
Did you know? It is estimated that 80-90% of Australians will experience lower back pain in their lives. The majority is classified as “non-specific lower back pain”. This means the pain may be from structures in the spine or from another area of your body. It has long been known by health professionals that there is a correlation between tight hamstrings and back pain. With the majority of people coming into the clinic complaining of tight hamstrings when I ask them to “try” to touch their toes.
Tight Hamstrings And Back Pain
Your hamstrings are a group of 3 muscles at the back of your thigh (semimembranosus, semitendinosis, and biceps femoris). All 3 of these muscles attach to the pelvis and cross the knee. Meaning they have the ability to control movements at both the hip and knee.
The hamstrings are a prime mover of the lower half of the body and have direct control on the pelvis. They essentially allow you to stand upright, bend forward, and give you the ability to transport your body from point A to point B.
The problem with short or tight hamstrings is they begin to pull on the pelvis and limit movement at your hip joint. This decreased movement at your hip joint will lead to increased movements occurring in your lower back. When your lower back has more pressure placed on it, the joints in the surrounding area become inflamed and swollen, leading to back pain.
It is rarely your hamstring tightness alone that causes your back pain. The likely culprit is that your brain doesn’t trust your body to bend forward without hurting your back. As a defence mechanism your hamstrings tighten up to prevent the risk of injury and this is why your hamstrings constantly feel tight.
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How To Get Rid Of Tight Hamstrings?
Stretching can help to lengthen your tight hamstrings and allow greater movement through your hips. When your hip joints move freely, it takes stress off your lower back and can decrease pain. Once you have restored some length to them it is important for any long term gains to reconnect your brain to your hamstrings and teach them to trust one another again.
My favourite stretch to help lengthen my hamstrings when they feel tight is the lying wall stretch. It helps your tight hamstrings and back pain.
Lie on your back as close as possible to a doorway or squat rack as possible. Your hips should ideally be at a right angle, with your legs perpendicular to the floor against the wall and the bottoms of your feet facing the ceiling. Your arms should rest at shoulder level, the headrest on the floor.
Next, it’s time to add some movements. Keep on leg straight up against the support, whilst slowly lowering the opposite leg. Tense the front of your thigh (quad) to help relax your hamstrings. But don’t let your back rise off the floor.
Repeat 2 sets of 10 leg lowers on each side then, don’t forget to strengthen them to reinforce and retain your new found range of motion. (this can be achieved easily by adding a little movement ie: a hip hinge exercise or the Toe Touch progression). So now you know how tight hamstrings and back pain go together, why not check out:
Fix Your Hip Extension, Fix Your Back Pain: to get your glutes fired up which will help ease the load off your tight hamstrings and stop them from getting tight in the future.
Or our most popular article:
Movement Patterns: The 6 fundamentals You Need To Be Training: to make sure you are training all the movements you need to build a robust body that is capable of doing whatever you want, whenever you want.