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How Tight Hamstrings Can Lead To Back Pain

When we think of muscle tightness, several pictures can come to mind.

  • We may think about how we’re unable to reach down and touch our toes without bending our knees (or at all)
  • Some may think about how they have a hard time squatting down to tie their shoes without lifting their heels up
  • The list goes on.

Muscle tightness doesn’t just hinder good form in our daily activities, but it can also lead to pain and injuries in different parts of the body.

How Hamstring Tightness Affect Our Bodies

Let’s take hamstring tightness for example. Hamstrings are a powerful muscle in the body, and they’re what we consider to be “phasic”. They’re made for large movements, and work to bend the knees and extend the hips. Because they originate at the lower part of the pelvis, they have a tendency to pull on the pelvis if they’re tight. The pelvis sits at a neutral position when everything is aligned correctly; meaning that it’s not tilting forward or backward and the rest of the spine has its natural curvature. Tight hamstrings can cause the pelvis to be pulled into a posterior position, tilting the pelvis backwards and flattening the lower back unnaturally. This would lead to lots of strain of the lower back, and weakness of the muscles that are being pulled on. This doesn’t have to be the case with those who are extremely active, but daily abnormal posture may lead to these stated issues for those who are sedentary or participate in mild activity from time to time.

Hamstring Tightness and Low Back Pain

Of course, those who are active and have tight hamstrings can be affected with low back pain as well, not to mention the potential for other hamstring injuries. Take someone who is doing a dead-lift and they’re unable to maintain a neutral spine while lifting from the slightly bent position that a deadlift requires; often the tension of hip flexion above the pelvis and lack of extensibility from below (hamstrings) can strain the lower back as well.


Acute instances or chronic postural imbalances; both may lead to low back pain. This is why it’s important to have a good stretching regimen if you know you’re naturally tight, if you’re stuck in one position for long periods of time due to work, or if you’re going to the gym. Dynamic stretching is a good tool for before lots of activity. Dynamic stretching includes moving the muscles through comfortable ranges of motion to get blood flow to the area beforehand. Static stretching can be done as an everyday routine for general flexibility, or after activity. Static stretching includes a more relaxed method of stretching with longer hold times and even deep breathing. 

If you’re experiencing tight hamstrings, give us a call TODAY at, 703-450-4300 to schedule your evaluation! We’d love to assess where you are, and any issues that may have arisen because of it. 

By Kiara Holmes, ATC

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