Knee & Ankle Lower back By Sophie Xie / March 16, 2016 How to perform hamstring stretches for lower back pain, knee pain and ankle pain Hamstring stretch is an important stretch. But most people are either not doing it, or doing it the wrong way that worsen your lower back pain. In this post, I will explain why it is important to do hamstring stretches for lower back pain, knee pain and ankle pain. One stretch to rule them all, and in the tightness bind them. And the stretch goes to Hamstring Stretch! Tweet Me Disclaimer first:If you are doing the stretching where you bend down to touch your toes, you are doing it wrong and risking more damage to your back. (If you bounce while doing this stretch, stop bouncing NOW.)If you have nerve pain or nerve damage, stretching the hamstrings with wrong technique may worsening your nerve irritation.If you have chronic pain in your lower back, knee ankle or heel, and you are not doing any stretching or exercising to improve it, you are not doing yourself a service and may risk getting worse.Why Hamstring length is essential to proper function of lower back, knee and ankle? Hamstring is a group of muscles that travel from bottom of our pelvis (hip bone) to the upper part of our tibia (lower leg bone). By crossing both hip and knee joints, the hamstring efficiently mingle in their business too.Tight hamstring affects lower back function by limiting the pelvis motion, in turn forcing the lumbar spine to move further than its ideal share of movement, especially when we walk, bend, lifting. Over the time, the compensation for the tight hamstring puts our lumbar spine and our lower back muscles in great disadvantage and risk for pain and injuries.Tight hamstring affects our knees in a more straightforward way. Simply put, if your hamstring is too tight, your knee will have a hard time straighten up. Then, you quad muscle (which is the one in front of your knee) will try very very hard to pull your knee straight and will burn out in the process and causes knee pain as result.Tight hamstring affects our ankles and heels by not allowing the gastrocnemius muscle (the bigger calf muscle) to stretch properly. In short, hamstring is a big elephant in the room here.How to perform hamstring stretch safely for those having lower back painThings you need: comfortable and firm surface to lay on, and a non-stretchy belt/dog leash/strap. How to stretch Hamstring (w/ lower back pain): Lay down on a firm but comfortable surface facing up. How firm you ask? You should not sink into it. You should not lay down on these soft puffy surfaces for long period anyway, as they are not good for your back.You can use your hands to hold your thigh to assist with this stretch, or use the belt/lease/strap to hold your leg up. The belt/lease/strap may wrap around your ankle or feet. Bring the knee of the stretching side to your chest, then slowly straightening out your knee until you feel the hamstring stretching. Hold your leg in stretch for 30-40 seconds before relaxing Then keep your knee straight and use belt/strap to pull your straight leg up towards chest, until stretch is felt.Hold your leg in stretch for 30-40 seconds before relaxing and switch to the other side.Note that if you have nerve pain, nerve irritation, pain, tingling and numbness shooting down your leg, avoid straightening your knee fully and bend your toes up towards you during any stretches. Also, try to bring your leg away from midline by 30 deg may decrease some nerve tension. If you experience worsening of nerve pain, tingling and numbness during or after stretching, stop immediately and consult your local physical therapist who specializes in spinal treatment. If you are not having lower back pain, there are many ways to stretch hamstring safely. Image source: hep2go.com These are excellent and more convenient ways to stretch your hamstring, given that you follow these guidelines:You don’t have severe lower back painYou don’t have nerve pain, tingling or numbnessYou know how to maintain neutral spine (in other words, you promise not to bend your back forward so that your lips can kiss your knees)Enjoy the benefit of properly lengthened hamstring today!!!Thank you for reading, and I hope you find this post helpful.Recommended readings:3 myth about no pain no gain: Exercise through pain and injuryBest 4 gentle yet effective core exercises for lower back painCurvy back: sexy or risky? Is your back curve part of chronic lower back pain?What is pain? 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