Better hamstring stretches for low back pain relief
We were all taught to bend over and touch our toes in elementary school. But the truth is, those simple toe touches put excess strain on your lower back, and are one of the worst ways to stretch your hamstrings with back pain.
Your hamstrings — the large group of muscles at the back of your thighs — can be a big contributor to low back pain if not stretched regularly and properly, while the wrong stretches can hurt your back even more.
The key to a spine-friendly hamstring stretch is to keep your back straight. So what can you do to replace those toe touches you’ve been practicing since the third grade?
Standing hamstring stretch
This is a great way to stop and stretch your hamstrings after a workout at the park or while walking around the house. For this stretch choose a chair, coffee table, park bench or a similar object that is sturdy enough to support your leg. Start by raising your right foot onto the chair. Straighten your right leg and flex your foot. Keep your left leg and back straight. For a deeper stretch, gently move your chest toward your raised leg. Hold for about 20 seconds, then switch to the other leg. Practice this two or three times for each leg.
Reclined hamstring stretch
For a more calming technique, try a reclined hamstring stretch to incorporate into your yoga program or everyday stretching routine. Start by lying flat on your back. Gently begin to raise your right leg with both hands behind your thigh, while keeping your left leg and back flat on the ground. Be sure to inhale and exhale regularly. Try to raise your right leg as high as you can, but be sure to listen to your body to avoid forcing the stretch. When you’ve raised your leg to the point at which you’re most comfortable, slowly flex your right foot. Hold this for about 30 seconds, then switch to your other leg. For a more advanced stretch, grab a belt from your closet to place over the ball of your raised foot, then gently pull the strap toward you.
Wall hamstring stretch
While this stretch may be a bit more advanced, all you need is a doorway or wall with an archway or open edge in your home. While lying on your back, position one leg through the open doorway — flat on the floor — with your other leg up on the wall. Place a folded blanket under your head and relax your upper body. Try to scoot your buttocks as close to the wall as possible, so you’re able to keep your leg on the wall and pelvis flat on the floor. With your heel propped on the wall, slowly straighten your raised leg on the wall as much as you feel comfortable. Feel the stretch and hold for about 20 seconds. Switch legs after about two or three sets.
Now you know the secret to a better hamstring stretch for your lower back, with the proper techniques to make it happen. However, if physical therapy, stretching or other forms of nonsurgical treatment have not helped to relieve your back pain after weeks or months, our team may be able to help you. Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about our minimally invasive procedures.