Hamstring Stretches & Lower Back Pain

By Dr Ken Nakamura+

Sitting hamstring stretch: Don't do this if you want to prevent low back pain|Downtown Toronto chiropractor

Do you love doing toe touches in the morning?

Do you stretch your hamstrings every day?

Do you have lower back pain and stretch like this at the gym, or before your game?


Stop right there. You could be causing your own lower back pain. By bending over and rounding your lower back like in the picture above, you are stretching your hamstring but you are also doing damage to your disc.


You see these people that can touch their toes like below.

Standing Hamstring Stretch: Don't do this if you want to prevent low back pain|Downtown Toronto chiropractor



You want to to be able to do this. You heard your Yoga teacher say the Uttanasana (standing forward bend pose) is great to stretch out your back, hamstrings and your calves.


Research by Dr Stuart McGill has shown that when you stretch your hamstring like the above two pictures,  you put pressure on the front of your disc. After approximately one thousand full forward bends, the disc eventually pops out the back causing a disc herniation.


Like a jelly doughnut that has squirted out, your disc with all that forward bending causes the inner part of the disc called the nucleus to squirt out. A lot of people at this point hear a “pop”. That is one of the outer layers of your disc called the annulus that has broken apart.


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If you look at both exercises either seated hamstring stretch or the standing hamstring stretch (forward bend pose) you are essentially doing the same thing, bending forward. Only with standing position you are putting more pressure on your disc due to the effects of gravity.


So how do you stretch out your hamstring safely?


Standing Hamstring Stretch: A proper hamstring stretch|Downtown Toronto chiropractor


This is the correct way to do a hamstring stretch and not hurt your lower back. She is keeping the arch in her lower back in the above picture, which sticks out her butt. Also, she has her head raised to help keep the arch in her lower back.  If she goes much further than this she will lose the arch. It’s pretty much as far as she can go.


If your back straightens out you lose the arch and you hurt your disc.


The question remains can you round your back and do the stretch like in the first two picture if you have no pain. The answer is no if you want to prevent lower back pain. Doing the first two stretchs once or twice will be no problem. Doing it thousands of times causes problems.


Tell us what you think in the comments below and like us on Facebook. I will answer all questions in the comments section here at this downtown Toronto Chiropractic clinic.


Dr Ken Nakamura

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