Hamstring Tightness & Lower Back Pain

August 16, 2013 | By | Reply READ MORE...

–  Dr. Nirikhsa Khasgiwala

Low back pain is one of the most commonly faced problem today which can be because of many pathologies but one important contributor to it is a group of muscles called The Hamstring.

HAMSTRING:
The Hamstrings are a group of 3 muscles located on the back of thigh or femur bone.The muscles connect from the buttock area of the pelvis to the backside of the lower leg.

 

ACTION OF HAMSTRING:
This group helps in bending the knee and extending the hip (bringing the thigh behind you).

 

CAUSES OF HAMSTRING TIGHTNESS:

  1. True hamstring tightness
  2. Hamstring tendinosis or acute hamstring strain
  3. Old Hamstring injury
  4. Neural Tension (Sciatic nerve supplying the muscle can be under tension)
  5. Protective tightness to guard the pain

HOW CAN HAMSTRING TIGHTNESS CHANGE THE SPINE BIO-MECHANICS (ALIGNMENT)?
Normally the spine is set in such a way that there is a small curve in the low back .This is because the backside of the pelvis is slightly higher than the front.

When the hamstrings are too tight they can pull the backside of the pelvis downward.This can be demonstrated by tightening the buttocks or pushing the hips forward. This downward pull of the pelvis can cause a flattening of the low back which puts the spine at a disadavantage when it comes to the ability to hold your body upright against gravity.

The constant pulling of the shortened muscles increases pressure on the bones of the spine as well as adds strain to muscles because as they have to work harder to hold the body up against gravity.

Tight Hamstring = Weak low back:
When this happens for a prolonged time,the muscles in the low back become weak and start to fatigue or get tired sooner.These muscular imbalances can cause pain in the low back.

For example, this muscular picture can be seen in an individual who sits at a desk for prolonged hours with knee bent and without proper postural habits and back support.And thus most of the office goers complain of sore or tired low back.

HOW TO PREVENT HAMSTRING TIGHTNESS:
Stretch! Stretch! Stretch! A simple stretching routine can help limit the amount of tightness especially if you are sitting all day. Remember though its not just the hamstring tightness alone which causes pain always. So it is advisable to get evaluated regarding the weak muscles and then treat it accordingly.

Few of the self stretches are as follows:

90-90 Stretch:

  1. Lie on your with both legs straight .Bend one knee to 90 degree.
  2. Hold your bent thigh behind the knee
  3. Slowly straighten the bent knee keeping the thigh stable.
  4. Hold for 20-30 seconds till you feel a mild discomfort/stretch in the hamstring region or when the opposite leg starts lifting from the ground or if the knee starts bending.

Effective Stretching with a stretch belt :

Self Sciatic nerve mobilization:

Foam Roller Stretch:

How does Physiotherapy help?
Because the pelvis is a part of the body that connects the legs to the upper half, any changes in the orientation of the pelvis can create problems at the other joints above and below such a as knees,ankles and even neck for that matter as hamstring muscles are attached as slings to the upper back muscles. Correct diagnosis will help the cause of pain and prevent situations such as this.
 
 Physiotherapy tools like:

  • Education regarding correct body mechanics and posture.
  • Heat/Cold theray depending on the acute/chronic stage of the condition
  • Ultrasound Therapy
  • Myofascial release
  • Dry Needling
  • Deep Tissue massage
  • Trigger Point Release
  • Manual Stretching Techniques
  • Neural Tissue Mobilization
  • Joint Mobilization
  • Kinesiology taping
  • Sport specific training
  • Ballistic stretches

Hands on application of these tools by licensed physical therapist can help increase range of motion,improve muscular and joint function and decrease pain in individuals who have backache due to such a cause.

We at Physio Rehab, conduct a detail assessment of the condition and treat the cause by educating the patients and giving them optimal exercise prescription due to which they can keep their muscles in proper length and avoid future injuries to the muscle and in turn protect their back.We also undertake sports specific rehab and not let such tightness hamper their performance and work on enhancing it.

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