Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lower Back Pain/Tight Hamstrings

When I was competing in Nova Scotia and at Dalhousie I suffered from back pain as many people do whether they are an athlete or not. However at that time my L5 sat posterior on my S1, so I went to physio and did a lot of core work and the problem was fixed. This isnt always the case for everyone though.

Some of you may not know but your back can be directly effected by the hamstrings! Yep I said it your hamstrings...those muscles in the back of your legs.

The muscles of the posterior thigh are called the Hamstrings. The hamstrings are actually made up of three different muscles. The semitendinosus, semimembranosus and the biceps femoris.

Now when your hamstrings are tight they can limit your mobility and cause back pain as well. The reason is that tight hamstrings will tilt the pelvis backwards which flattens the lumbar curvature also known as the lordotic curve of the lower back.

Trainers use tests to determine injuries or problematic areas. One such test is the leg raise test (lie supine, limbs horizontal, one heel is to be lifted and fez the hip joint with the knee extended.) Sometimes there is pain when this performed and it is commonly confused with siatic pain. When I was in Ottawa competing for the Ottawa Lions I think that I was misdiagnosed with the siatic vs hamstrings because I have had really tight hamstrings in the past and now that I stretch more I have less pain when running.

Also LADIES this lordotic curve that can be effected by tight hamstrings effects your booty...so if youre desiring a delicious booty dont just do squats and lunges till the cows come home work on your hamstring flexibility so you see that lordotic curvature in your back because it will help essentuate your booty!

Here are some hamstring stretches curtosey of The University Of Alberta:

  • Stretches should be held for 30-60secs and done on both sides
  • Repeat stretches 2-3 times
  • Stretches should be held at the point where a “good/comfortable” stretch is felt and runner should not be bouncing (this produces a counter effect)

Hamstring Stretch
Hamstring Stretch 1

Sit on the floor with left leg stretched out forward and your right leg bent
Keep your back straight and slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch along the back of your thigh
Keep your left toes pointing towards the ceiling

Hamstring Stretch
Hamstring Stretch 2

With a step/stool/chair placed in front of you
Place your right heel on the step and keep your toes pulled towards you
Keep your left leg straight and bend at the hips forward (back stays straight)
You should feel the stretch along the back of the right thigh

Hamstring Stretch
Hamstring Stretch 3

Lying on the floor with your back flat on the ground, slowly raise your right leg up towards the ceiling
Wrap hands around the right thigh and try to straighten your right knee until you feel a good stretch in back of the right thigh (note you may not be able to get the leg fully straight)

Hamstring area of effect

Hamstring Stretch Region of Tension
The highlighted area is where you should feel the above hamstring stretches
Remember that stretching should not cause pain

1 comment:

  1. Nice article, but just as a pointer...in the photo the gracilis is labelled wrong - it's an adductor muscle so should be on the inside of the leg not the outside. The arrow is more likely indicating the ITB instead.