The Correct Way to Stretch Your Hamstrings To Prevent Pain

By Sherwin Nicholson | SN Health Resources | Updated November 8, 2017


Avoid the Mistakes That Could Hurt You

Tight hamstrings are directly linked to lower back pain.  They reduce your pelvic mobility and prevent the pelvis from tilting together with the lumbar spine.  Unfortunately, the more popularly recommended stretches to address this problem actually worsens it.  Pain and discomfort are experienced significantly before hamstring lengthening or any pain relief.

Leaning Forward is Very Bad for Your Back

You’re not really stretching your hamstrings at all.  You’re just creating tension and fatigue.  At the same time, you’re generating a very high amount of pressure on your L1-L5-S1 discs.

Sadly, there is a good chance that these discs will wear long before your hamstrings see any benefit at all.

The current way to stretch that is popular requires you to begin in the upright position and to bend forward then to touch your toes with little attention to control.

poor stretch technique

Another favorite variation of this is while in the seated position, and with one leg extended.  Here, you also lead forward while touching your toes.

This method has very little gain for the strain involved

The first method uses gravity to aid the stretch.  The latter uses your arms to achieve the same effect.  Both place unnecessary force on your discs and lower back muscles and actually have minimal impact on hamstring length as lower back fatigue predominates the duration of time the stretch is performed.

Ultimately, pain follows, and you end up avoiding this stretch altogether. Doing this creates a vicious cycle where lower back pain is worsened by tight hamstrings, and the stretch ineffectively compounds the problem.

Flaws in the Technique

This common stretch encourages you to begin with your hamstrings already in a somewhat lengthened position and uses the action of the pelvis to further lengthen them.  By tilting the pelvis, one can lengthen the hamstrings.

Provided that your back is stable and there are no disc issues, this stretch is considered safe.

Tight hamstrings can demand a lot of force to stretch them

However, hamstrings require a significant amount of force and sustained tension to lengthen.  It is from the leverage of the spine acting on the pelvis that is necessary for this lengthening to occur.  But by its very design, this technique will require an unbalanced and dangerous force on the lumbar disc.

The average person with tight hamstrings may not have lower back pain but is very prone to it by using this stretch technique routinely. Because it requires that you put intense pressure on every lumbar disc, there is a good chance that you may rupture your them.

You Need Stability before Action

While your hamstrings are one of the most resistant groups of stretching, the lower back is consequently the least resistant.

To prevent injury, it is necessary for you to provide a stable position for your back while having the most effective movement to stretch your hamstrings.  An effective method should also provide stability for your pelvis to prevent any discomfort.   The following stretch can help you do this.

Seated Hamstring Stretch

Go to TIGHT HAMSTRINGS for the full Details and Steps in this Stretch


the better and back safe stretch

By following this technique, you allow the following protective actions in a specific order.

  1. Lumbar Stability
  2. Pelvic Stability
  3. Upper Back and Neck Stability
  4. Femoral Flexibility
  5. Hamstring Isolation
  6. Hamstring Lengthening
When your back is stable, your hamstrings can stretch a lot easier
As you can see in the image above, the ONLY muscles here that move in this stretch are the hamstrings through the extension of the legs.  Your back is firmly supported by your thighs and is NOT used as a lever to facilitate this movement.

By following this method, you can minimize and prevent disc injury while reducing tightness in your hamstrings, which in will save your back.

Would you like more help with your hamstrings?

Learn all about your hamstrings

How to manage tight hamstrings

Learn the benefits of stretching

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