08 July, 2011
Hamstring Stretches & Lower Back Pain
The hamstrings are connected to the lower part of the pelvis and run along the back of the leg to the tibia, just below the knee joint. When the hamstrings are tight, they tend to pull on the pelvis, thereby causing a rounding of the lower back. Over time, this misalignment causes back pain. According to The Stretching Institute, thorough stretching of the hamstring relieves the tension on the pelvis, allows the spine to resume its normal S shape, and ultimately alleviates symptoms of lower back pain.
Seated Toe Touch
Sit on the ground, with your legs together and extended straight out in front of you. Slowly bend over and reach for your toes. Stop when you feel a stretch and hold for at least 20 seconds. You will feel a stretch in your hamstrings as well as your lower back. Initially, your goal is to reach for your ankles; however, as your flexibility improves, you will eventually be able to grab your toes and grasp the balls of your feet.
Standing Toe Touch
Bending over to touch your toes helps to loosen the tension on your pelvis by increasing the flexibility of your hamstrings. There are several variations to this exercise, all of which target your hamstrings and lower back muscles. Standing with your feet together, slowly bend over, and touch your toes. When you feel a stretch, stop, and hold the position for 20 seconds. You may modify this exercise by crossing your feet. Repeat twice for each variation.
Supine Extended Leg Stretch
Lie on your back, leaving one foot on the ground while you support the opposite thigh with your hand or with a towel. Slowly straighten the knee until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Your goal is to have the bottom of your foot parallel with the ceiling; however, do not force your foot into this position. Once you feel a stretch, hold the position for 20 seconds. Repeat on the opposite leg.
Resistance Hamstring Stretches
Stretching with a partner helps achieve a greater degree of flexibility and increases your range of motion. For a deep thorough stretch of your hamstrings, lie on your back, with one leg extended straight on the ground. Have your partner lift the opposite leg until you feel a stretch, and hold the position for 10 seconds. Do not lower your leg. Maintain your position, and gently push your leg away from your body as your partner provides moderate resistance for 10 seconds. Instruct your partner to push your leg forward. Repeat on the opposite leg.
Elevate Your Leg
Standing on one leg, place the opposite leg straight forward onto a surface that is at least the height of your waist, and reach for your toes. Stop when you feel a stretch, and hold for 20 seconds. For a deeper stretch of your hamstrings, reach away from your mid-line in the direction of your small toe. Repeat the stretch on each leg to ensure that your flexibility is the same on each side.
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