How Tight Hamstrings Can Cause Lower Back Pain

Could tight hamstrings be causing you lower back pain? They could be! Read on to find out how tight hamstrings can impact your lumbar spine.

What are the Hamstrings?

To understand how the hamstrings may be impacting your back, you first have to understand where they are, and how they attach. The hamstrings are actually three different muscles on the back of your thigh. The semimembranosus, semitendinosus and biceps femoris are the three different parts of the hamstrings and where they attach on your body may be key to back pain.

All three originate from the sitting bones in your hips, though the biceps has two heads and the other originates from the back of the thigh bone. The semimembranosus and semitendinosus insert on the inside of the tibia, the outside bone in your lower leg. Both of the biceps merge into one tendon that then attaches to the head of the fibula in your lower leg. The main action of the hamstring is to bend your knee, while it secondarily helps to rotate the knee and extend the hip.

What Happens When the Hamstrings are Tight?

Tight hamstrings will pull on the ischial tuberosities, one of the areas of your pubic bone. This tends to draw the pelvis into retroversion, which means that it tilts your pelvis back. Joints adjacent to this move in what’s called a “coupled” fashion, so when the pelvis tilts back the vertebrae in your lower back flex forward. What this all boils down to is that if your hamstrings are tight and you bend forward the flexion must come from the lumbar spine and that is not ideal. It can strain the ligaments that surround your vertebrae and also make bulging disks in your back worse. So, lengthening your hamstrings is key to moving your body as it is intended to and not putting unnecessary stress on your spine.

How it Should Work

When your hamstrings are relaxed it allows your pelvis to tilt forward. The lumbar spine will then couple this movement in the direction of the extension which takes the strain off the ligaments and disks.

If your hamstrings are tight, talk to your chiropractor about ways to lengthen them. This may help to relieve some of the back and pelvis pain you may be experiencing. Remember, your body is like a machine with many moving parts. If even one of those parts isn’t working correctly, other parts will have to make up for it. This leads to aches and pains, and life is too short for that!

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Nicholas A. Tonelli