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Why Hamstring Muscle Stretching Is Bad for Back Pain

Learn how hamstring muscle stretching can make back pain worse from physical therapist Eric Sampson in this Howcast video.


One of the big misunderstandings in our field is the idea of trying to stretch out your hamstring muscles in the presence of acute or sub acute back pain. A lot of patients will offer the idea of wanting to go home and stretch them or having continuously stretching them in order to relive the discomfort. This is a big problem in our field for a couple of reasons.

The big reason of course is that by stretching out your hamstrings muscle although you're getting sort of reinforced by the stretch you are actually putting your spin in a provocative position you're rotating the hips and pelvis down and creating more pressure on the disk material. Although the patient is reinforced by the stretch feeling in their back or in their leg.

Unfortunately, it is the wrong force and the patient is unaware of this until sometimes its too late. But a classic hamstring stretch would be something like this, you know, where they had been using a yoga stretch or if you're in the clinic with a therapist. And like I said, if a patient is having a back disorder and the symptoms are in their back or in their leg or in their buttock, they're going to do a stretch like this and sort of feel the stretch feeling and assume this is correct, but unfortunately that strain on the back and on the disk material is almost too much and later in the day they will often suffer more as a result. Rarely if ever is a hamstring muscle so tight that it's actually affecting a lot of the pull on the spine. So it's big misunderstanding and it's a bad exercise in the case of acute and sub acute back pain.

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