The strength and flexibility of your hamstrings have a huge impact on your posture, mobility and comfort in your lower back region.
Lower back pain plagues most adults. Whether the pain is mild, or acute, most adults struggle with keeping this region of their body pain-free. Sedentary lifestyles, poor posture, lack of strength and improper techniques for heavy lifting contribute to nagging lower back pain. Ibuprofen, heating pads and pain relief creams are the most commonly used remedies. However, what most people don’t know is that tight and weak hamstrings play a large role in lower back discomfort.
Caring for your hamstrings is arguably one of the most important remedies and prevention tools for low back pain.
Your hamstrings, which are made up of the large muscles on the back of your legs behind your thighs, play a huge role in your physical well-being. Whether you sit frequently, run, bike, play soccer or tennis or have an inactive lifestyle, chances are that your hamstrings need some attention. Essentially, any frequent activity that requires you to lean forward frequently will wreak havoc on your hips, pelvis and hamstrings. Weak and shortened hamstrings lead to injury and lower back pain.
Tight hamstrings have the power to tilt your pelvis and negatively impact the alignment of your spine.
Your hamstrings originate on the bottom of the pelvis, ie: sitting bones, and insert over the knee on the tibia or fibula. When they are tight they will pull on the pelvis. As a result, they will tilt it out of alignment. The misalignment in your pelvis will then lead you to use your lower back more in movements like bending over. Hamstring strength and flexibility is key because it’ll help keep your pelvis in its proper position, which in turn will help to keep your spine in its proper position.
The good news is that it is easy to care for your hamstrings, which will prevent future discomfort and likely ease current lower back pain!
In addition to hamstring care, we definitely recommend addressing mobility and flexibility in your psoas and quadratus lumborum. Core strengthening exercises and proper ergonomics at work are of high importance as well.
In the meantime, here are our top three recommendations to improve the health of your hamstrings!
Yoga and functional stretching, no doubt, are highly effective tools to bring your body into balance. YouTube has a huge assortment of short, free and easy to follow yoga sequences. Check out our easy to follow Yoga for Low Back Pain video! Even better, head to your local yoga studio and attend classes regularly. Chances are that you will be guided to build core strength, do hip openers and poses that stretch and strengthen your hamstrings. This is the ultimate lower back pain relief combo!
Use trigger point therapy balls and foam rollers.
Trigger point therapy and myofascial release with foam rollers are powerful tools for rehabilitation and improved physical health! Your fascia, muscles and ligaments need regular attention. Movement and exercise are excellent tools for circulation, renewal, strengthening and stretching. Targeted touch, however, will provide help to the areas that are still needing attention. For hamstring tightness, we highly recommend using trigger point balls and foam rollers to provide extracellular nutrition and circulation. Applied pressure can help loosen tight fascia and break up scar tissue. Using the weight of your body, you can use these tools to massage and release your hamstrings or any other area you are working on.
Work with a massage therapist.
When you work with a massage therapist you gain their expertise, massage tools and targeted touch. Ashiatsu, massage with your therapist’s feet, can be particularly effective because of the depth and broad compression, which is perfect for hamstrings. Massage will help your muscles become more pliable and relaxed, which is perfect for building flexibility and strength. If you have a hamstring injury, such the very uncomfortable and common high hamstring tendinopathy, we do recommend working with your doctor and physical therapist!
Cupping added to your massage therapy session is also highly effective. By releasing the lymphatic system and releasing toxins in impacted areas, massage cupping uses suction to soften adhesion(s), open up connective tissues, stimulate blood flow, induce relaxation and most importantly relieve pain.
We highly recommend making hamstring stretches and targeted care as part of your wellness routine to prevent low back pain!
Regular massage can help prevent injury and discomfort and provide relief for what you are going through.
Check out our massage menu here or give us a call at 503.281.0278 with any questions or booking inquiries!