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Can inflexible hamstrings cause low back pain?

Proper muscle balance is key to staying pain-free.  If you have tight hamstrings (which do attatch to the pelvis), it does have the potential to cause poor posture.  If it causes your low back to round out, you will have extra stress on your low back.  However, any muscle imbalance will eventually cause issues.  Sitting for extended periods of time (like at a computer or horseback riding) will cause hip flexors to become tight.  This, in turn, leaves the glutes underactivated.  Hamstrings usually assist in hip flexion, but if the glutes are in need of help, the hamstrings and muscles of the low back will have to kick into overtime to help out those glutes.  All this compensation leads to pain and possible injury down the line, over time. 

So yes, the hamstrings can cause pain, but don't be afraid to have a professional look into the cause.  Oftentimes there is a reason why they are working too hard or are found to be tight.  A whole-body approach might be necessary.

Maryanne Lane LMT NCTMB
Integrative Medicine

The Hamstrings are one of the major causes of back pain, also check your Psoas Muscle. Applying heat and then doing a hamstring stretch can help you determine if they are the culprit if your pain goes away then try a heat, liniment (like Absorbine Jr.) and stretch to work them out.

Football players pull this muscle a lot over and over again and if it's not worked out with massage can create back pain later on.

Absolutely. The hamstrings run through the back of each thigh. Tightness in this muscle limits motion in the pelvis which can increase stress across the low back and corrupt correct posture. Stretching the hamstrings can gradually lengthen them and reduce the stress felt in the lower back.

Hamstring stretching should include applying pressure to lengthen the hamstring muscle using a foam roller for 30-45 seconds at a time, one to two times each day. The hamstring muscles will lengthen over time, decreasing stress on the low back. Since other hamstring and back exercises may not be done everyday, stretching should not be just linked to other exercises.

In order to make stretching exercise a part of one’s daily routine, it is best to stretch every morning when getting up and before going to bed.

Absolutley! Hamstrings can contribute to lower back pain. Overactive hamstrings can cause the rounding of the back which can cause pain and discomfort. Proper assesments should be performed following Nasm guidelines. Muscle imbalances play a huge roll in improper alignment and need to be addressed as soon as possible. Overactive muscles can be hamstrings, rectus abdominus, adductor magnus and external obliques.Underactive muscles can be Gluteus maximus,erector spinae(deep muscles in the back) and insintric core stabilizers(lie deep within the torso). You want to use self myofascial release(form of deep tissue massage) you would want to slowly roll over the area until you find an adhesion(Knot)then hold for 20-30 seconds or more until the muscle relaxes.Stay as relaxed as possible and the more you do this the less pain you will feel.

Stretch:hamstrings, adductor magnus and abdominal stretch

Exercises: Floor cobra,ball cobra and back extension will help to correct this.

While coming on board sharecare and virtual training all these stretches, exercises will be in video format so you can understand how to perform them.

Yes, inflexible hamstrings may contribute to lower back pain.  The hamstring muscles attach to the bottom of your pelvis and on the back of your lower leg, so when they become tight and inflexible they have the potential to pull down on your pelvis and cause rounding of the lower back.  Prolonged rounding of the lower back can put tremendous  pressure on the intervertebral discs in the lower spine as well as increase stress to the ligaments that help to support it.  If you suspect that inflexible hamstrings are contributing to your lower back pain, perform self-myofascial release (a form of self-massage) on the hamstrings using a foam roll which will help decrease the tension in the muscle. Follow this with the standing outside thigh stretch which will help to increase hamstring length. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.