Why you shouldn’t stretch your hamstrings if you have back pain

I got asked this question the other day from a patient called Laura who has been suffering with back pain on and off for almost 2 years now and in the last 6 months her hamstrings have always been feeling ‘tight’.

Laura had been going to a sports therapist who had been doing deep tissue massage on her hamstring, stretching them and then sending her away with exercises to stretch them even more. She likes to keep fit and has been doing as she is told because she wants to get better and wants this constant feeling of tight achy hamstrings to go away.

However, it isn’t, and she came to me for some help. This is not the first time I have seen a problem like this so I decided to write a piece to explain how it can happen.

In Lauras case, it was all due to her diaphragm and the position of her ribcage over her pelvis. You see when we breath in our diaphragm moves down, our ribcage moves out and up slightly and out weight shifts forward. This position lengthens our hamstrings slightly.


When we breath out our diaphragm stretches and moves up and our ribcage moves down, which takes the tension off our hamstrings.

There have been a lot of studies which show  that people who have back pain struggle to get their diaphragm to lengthen properly and therefore their ribcage does not come down as it should, which keeps the hamstrings in a slightly lengthened position.

Therefore the hamstrings are been kept on tension all the time and in fact they are ‘LONG’ and FEEL ‘TIGHT’.

By stretching Laura was in fact increasing the protective tension in her hamstring muscle and making them feel even ‘tighter’. This problem was never going to go away if she kept up what she was doing.

So I was more interested in addressing her breathing and diaphragm dysfunction as the hamstrings were not the cause, but a reaction to the true cause, which was the diaphragm not lengthening properly.

Will this also help back pain?…..

You bet it will as its also going to take tension off the lower back muscles.

So while the natural instinct can be to stretch a muscle if it feels ‘tight’, this is often not the answer and here at our clinic we always look for the true reason behind the problem and not not just rub the sore part.

So if you have a similar problem to Laura and are not having much success with the form of treatment that you are using, why not give us a call for a FREE telephone consultation on 089 210 2586. It will only take a few minutes for us to give you an idea of what is going on.

Or better still if you can make it to the clinic in Moate or Athlone for a FREE DISCOVERY VISIT, where we can talk with you in person and do an assessment to tell you what is going on with your pain and the best solutions to get help. There is no payment or obligation to go ahead with treatments, just FREE ADVICE.

It takes no longer than 30 minutes.

To arrange a discovery visit call the clinic on 089 210 2586 or REPLY to this email and get on the road to doing the things you love to do today.

If you any questions then feel free to email them to me and I will answer them as quick as I can.



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