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  • Writer's pictureJudy Slater

Lower Back Pain, Hamstrings

These are self-care tips to help bring temporary relief while we are dealing with COVID-19 restrictions. These exercises alone probably won't solve the problem because we are addressing symptoms not the root issues like common compensatory patterns caused by muscular imbalances, poor posture, overuse or inactivity. These tips are best used between bodywork sessions as home-retraining exercises recommended by a Myoskeletal Alignment Therapist, Physical Therapist, or a bodyworker who takes a global approach and understands how to assess and treat the underlying issues. For lasting results seek professional help to address the underlying issue and contributing factors.

Hamstrings, Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)

Symptoms: Lower back pain, inability to bend over and touch your toes.

Tight hamstrings can be a major contributor to lower back pain. The tendons attach to your sits bones of the lower pelvis and can wreak havoc on pelvic alignment if one is substantially tighter than the other. A basic rule of thumb, if you can't touch your toes, your lower back is probably hurting you.

Stretching the left hamstring.

Begin by laying on your back, if you have very tight hamstrings or pain in the lower back it may be more comfortable to bend the opposite knee placing the right foot flat on the floor.

Straighten the left leg and bring it into flexion until a moderate stretch is felt, don't push yourself here, it will get more intense.

Keep the top portion of the leg (thigh) still but allow the knee to bend and the ankle to drop. With the top portion of leg remaining still, extend the foot up for a stretch for two seconds then relax the ankle back down toward the butt.

Repeat up for a stretch holding at the top for two seconds then relaxing the foot back down.

As the hamstrings start to relax after 5-10 repetitions, you can bring the knee closer to the chest to increase the stretch.

If you need to you can use a belt or strap to hold the upper leg in place while you flex and relax the lower leg but don't do all the work with your arms, you should still be working the quads to flex the foot.

Emphasis can be put on medial or lateral muscles by performing this stretch with the toes on the leg being stretched pointed across the body then the opposite direction away from the body. See video if unclear.

Active Isolated Stretching (A.I.S.)

This is an Aaron Mattes Active Isolated Stretching Technique. If you read my blog from April 3, 2020 "Stiff Neck, Limited Range of Motion, PNF," you are already familiar with the idea of Reciprocal Innervation which simply means if a muscle is flexed it's opposite muscle must relax. In this stretch of the hamstrings you flex the quad muscles to bring the foot back up to the ceiling. Firing the quad muscles prepares the hamstrings to relax.

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