‘Stretch your hamstrings’
Something many of us have been told before, however we should be listening because this is preventing lower back pain & improving our posture.
Preventing lower back pain with hamstring stretches
Tight hamstrings reduce the mobility of the pelvis, which can put pressure on the lower back. Strengthening and stretching the hamstrings can prevent them from becoming too tight and provide extra support for the back and pelvis.
2. Improving posture: Sit straighter and stand taller.
When the hamstrings are too tight, the muscles rotate the pelvis causing the a change in the natural arch in the back. This can affect sitting and standing posture making you look slouched and hunched.
3. Hamstring stretches will help keep the muscles flexible and joints mobile
Merryn Aldridge recommends the following 4 stretches to release your hamstrings:
1. Hamstring stretch with pelvic/hip focus (kneeling)
- Kneeling with body held upright and the spine in a neutral position.
- Place the right leg in front of the body with the foot flexed, the heel pushed into the ground, and the toe pointing toward the ceiling.
- Hands on the hips and keep right and left side aligned and even.
- Gently lean forward and maintain focus on the pelvis and alignment which may only mean a slight lean
- Hold the stretch for 10–30 seconds (2-4 times on each leg)
2. Hamstring muscle belly stretch (lying)
- Lie flat on either the ground or a mat with the legs fully stretched out.
- Bend the right leg and place the strap across the ball of the right foot.
- Hold the strap in both hands.
- Keep the left leg extended on the ground with the foot flexed and hold the leg firm.
- Slowly extend the right leg with the foot flexed. The right leg should have a slight bend in the knee.
- Gently pull the strap until there is a slight tension in the hamstrings.
- Hold the stretch for 10–30 seconds (2-4 times each leg)
3. Downward dog (all 4 fours)
- Spread your fingers wide and press firmly through your palms and knuckles. Distribute your weight evenly across your hands.
- Exhale as you tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Reach your pelvis up toward the ceiling.
- Gently begin to straighten your legs, but do not lock your knees. Bring your body into the shape of an “A.”
- Pedal out through the feet to mobilise
- 6 slow breaths (in and out)
4. Side Lunge Stretch (Standing)
- Begin in Wide-Legged Stance
- Bend your left knee into a half-squat. Keep your right leg straight and flex your foot so that your toes leave the floor so you are pressing into the right heel.
- Press hips back while keeping the spine lifted.
- Keep your hands on the floor if you need them for balance or, extend arms out wide.
- Drop your hands to the floor for support and shift to the other side.