I know tight hamstrings are the main cause of lower back pain but I had forgotten that this week after a jumper show last weekend that left lower back hurting all week. When I remembered about the hamstring thing I sat on the floor to do hamstring stretches. Lord have mercy~! I could hardly bend over due to tight hamstings. I spent 15 min trying to make a bit of progress and I did ever so slightly and my lower back felt better this morning. My hamstrings have always been tight but this is ridiculous! Anyone have tips for stretching the hamstrings besides sitting on the floor and bending over? I am 59 years old.
No need to sit on floor, just start w/ standing and touching fingers, then hands to floor for a few seconds, then extend it to 1 minute in place. I do this everytime I re-heat my coffee in the microwave, so maybe 6-8-10 times per day.
If my morning starts off with lower back pain I know I need to immediately do my stretch.
Also sometimes I intentionally go out and trim/scissor grass or weeds in the yard as it’s a similar type stretch.
Lie on your back and use a strap or resistance band. My trainer has a stretch called the triple hammy stretch - right leg right arm – stretch to your right, stretch straight up, switch hands and stretch to the left…30 seconds or more in each position. Then switch legs. I would also suggest getting a foam roller and rolling them too.
If your hamstrings are tight, it’s likely that a lot of other things are also. I would add hip flexor and quad stretches to this list. And hip stretches. They are all interconnected, and our conformation flaws make some worse than others, but by and large most of us don’t stretch (or strength train) enough.
When I went to PT for my hernia, she noted how tight my hams were AND weak glutes. Ended up having my hamstring and adductors dry needled because they remained sore. She also noted how weak my internal core was. I highly recommend finding a pelvic floor PT and going for some sessions.
My hamstrings no longer bother me or are tight and I FOUND my glutes and my core.
Did your PT person show you exercises?
Oh yes and I demonstrated at several appointments with her correcting my movement mistakes.
- 2 min of prone prop on elbows - and ENGAGE your abs - I have a bulging disk and a tight lower back. Well, DID have a tight lower back - it doesn’t bother me now.
- Prone press ups x 10 - hold for 3 secs at the top
- Fire glutes 10x (back and forth which is a total of 20) - I lay on my back - feet up against wall 90 degrees and fire each side. Glutes only.
- Stretch arms up in the air to use diaphragm properly and breathe in and out and then…
- Feet up against wall and lift and squeeze glutes - 10x total and hold for a second - ONLY glutes.
- Bridges and hold for 3x and total of 10 - ONLY glutes.
- Clamshells x 10 - WOW have clamshells been a gamechanger for core strength and so much more. My CORE feels like a rock - and that’s all the way around including sides. In my orig eval she said my core strength was coming from the muscles that make up the six pack - NOT deep. Interesting.
Here are videos of each exercise:
- Prone Press Ups to Elbows: https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/back-pain/back-pain-exercise-video-prone-elbows-press
- Prone Press Ups all the way up https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sws_GwrlYO0
- Glute Bridge on Wall - 90 degree angle - ONLY fire your glutes - no abs - nothing else - takes time and focus to get this right. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOk9ERPwZE8
- Can’t find any videos of the arms stretched up (like you are about to dive into water) and stretch UP for diaphragm breathing - leaving scapula on the floor as much as possible but lifting ends of shoulders off the floor. Does that make sense?
- Bridges w feet on floor - firing GLUTES only. Straightforward. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPM8icPu6H8
- Clamshells - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsQugiJgZZE
I’m faithfully doing at least one set of all these exercises once a day and feel strong and it’s improved my riding too.
Running through all these exercises takes maybe 7 minutes? A small price to pay for all the benefits.
Chances are, you have some dysfunctional movement patterns that over time have limited the range of motion in your shoulders & hips therefore overloading your quads. In addition to the great exercises others have suggested, you might look into having some manual myofacial release done (certain PT or massage therapists have training in this), and using a foam roller & a tennis ball on the trigger points at home.
I also had to treat tight hamstrings by doing PT to strengthen my glutes and deep, lower core muscles. Stretching the hams themselves never brought me relief because I wasn’t using my body correctly which was the root of the tightness. My hypermobility and accompanying weakness caused regular spasming.
The exercises on the posts above are similar to my regimen.
I also second getting a PT/message therapist to work on fascia release in addition to your strengthening. Once you learn where your trigger points are from PT sessions, it is easy to do “tune ups” on your own with a raquet ball at home.
I agree about physio to strengthen other weak muscle groups that the hamstrings are working overtime to make up for. I had tight hamstrings from running, then actually had a partial tear of one hamstring sitting a spook and spin on my young horse. My butt did not even leave the saddle but holy cow that was painful.
My physio did IMS (like really long acupuncture needles inserted into the muscle to release the tight muscle) which made a big difference. Warming up the hamstrings before riding is helpful. I commented to my physio (not a horse person) that my hamstrings were often tight after riding and she thought about it and said that if she had to guess, she thought that I probably rode with my butt tucked under and for lack of a better term, “clenched”. She was right, and adjusting my biomechanics when riding made a difference too.
If your hamstrings are tight after riding or other exercise, you can release them by rolling them out over a ball or a foam roller (I used a racquetball- put the ball on the ground and sit your tight hamstring on it and roll back and forth to release it).