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Why You Should NOT Stretch The Hamstrings If You Have Lower Back Pain
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Why You Should NOT Stretch the Hamstrings If You Have Lower Back Pain

There are lots of people recommending stretching the hamstrings if you suffer from lower back pain to relieve it. I have written this article to explain why they say to do this and I why I don’t agree and why I believe there is a better option.

The reason why hamstring stretching is suggested is because the tightness in this hamstring muscle limits the range of motion of the pelvis, which can increase the stress along the lower back. Therefor many professionals advise to stretch the hamstrings to lengthen the muscle and take the pressure of the pelvis, therefore reducing lower back pain.

But the hamstring muscles are not tight in the usual way that a tight muscle is. In most cases 99% of the people I see the Hamstring muscles are actually “long and tight”, not “short and tight” like a conventional tight muscle.

By this I mean that the hamstrings are constantly been pulled on stretch which makes them feel tight, just like if you stretched an elastic band it would feel tighter but it would be longer. So if they are already always on stretch then stretching them even more is not going to be beneficial.

Yes many individuals do experience less back pain for a small period of time, approximately 20 minutes after stretching the hamstrings, but it’s not a permanent fix. It just eases off the pressure for a while. It actually makes the problem worse in the long run.

So instead of looking at the hamstrings and saying there tight, I suggest looking at the body and saying what is causing the hamstrings to feel tight. My answer is an anterior tilt of the pelvis.

An anterior tilt of the pelvis is when the back of the pelvis is a lot higher than the front; Donald duck posture is how I explain it to my personal training clients.

I find that this is very common with office workers, basically anyone that sits down for a large amount of time each day and women who wear heels or have had a baby.

I see that these people all get back ache constantly or from time to time at the least and this is due to the lower back taking more pressure than it should be.

The lower back is not weak; it is just been overloaded with extra work it should not be doing, which gives it the appearance of been weak.

The hamstrings been too long, is one of the contributing factors that allows an anterior tilt of the pelvis to develop.

You see with most people who are chair based for a large percentage of their day, sit in poor posture. They sit with an anterior tilt of the pelvis, shortening the quadriceps, hip flexors and lower back muscles making these all stronger which in turn make them work more. At the same time they are stretching there abdominals and bum muscles which make these weak and saggy.

The strong muscles pull and the weak muscles just let them. The hamstrings are not strong enough to resist the pull from the lower back, hip flexors and quadriceps and are put on stretch also.

So instead of stretching the hamstrings you need to strengthen the hamstrings to shorten them as well as your other weak muscles the bum muscles and the abdominals. At the same time stretch the tight muscles, the quadriceps, hip flexors and lower back. This will take your pelvis back into neutral, taking excessive pressures off of the lower back and get rid of your back pain, on a permanent basis instead of a 20 minute spell.

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