Can Hamstring Stretches Relieve Back Pain?

Hamstring Stretches to Relieve Low Back Pain

By: Matt Paulus, MS, ATC, LAT

Are you suffering from low back pain? Do you feel like you have tried all the heating pads, ibuprofen, and massage creams out there? What if you found majority of your relief from a couple of simple stretches?

If you are notoriously a “tight” person, stretching your hamstrings could be the best medicine to relieve that pesky back pain. The lower back is acted upon and influenced by many muscles that attach to the pelvis and lower torso. The hamstrings are actually one of those groups of muscles.

Wman with yellow shirt on the floor leaning forward to stretch her right hamstrings or hamstring muscles to help her low back Hamstring Stretch

A portion of the hamstring muscles originates at the lower pelvis and extends down the back of the leg, to the knee. When the hamstrings are tight, they pull down on the pelvis. This results in a rounded lower back. Overtime, this posturing can result in increased lower back pain. Therefore, hamstring stretches for lower back pain are important.

If you start to feel pain down the back of the leg, it could possibly be an irritated sciatic nerve. Hamstring stretches are not a good option with Sciatica. There are other Low back exercises that are better in that situation.

Other Sciatic Nerve exercises can be found HERE

Hamstring Stretches to Help The Back

Hamstring stretches for back pain are simple and easy to complete in the comfort of your own home. Start by completing the following stretches:

  • Seated Hamstring Stretch: sit on the edge of a sturdy chair. Straighten out one leg, with the heel in contact with the floor. Make sure the knee stays straight. Keep your chest up and lean forward at the waist. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and complete 3 times.

Woman on the edge of a chair, leaning forward with right leg straight to stretch the right hamstring to help the low backSeated Hamstring Stretch in a Chair

  • Supine Hamstring Stretch: Lying on your back, attach a sheet or dog leash to the bottom of your foot. Hold onto the opposite end of the sheet or dog leash, keep the knee straight and raise the leg up in the air, towards your face. Be sure to maintain a straight knee the entire time. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and complete 3 times.

Man on his back on mat table with left leg straight and elevated with rope to stretch the left hamstrings or hamstring muscles.Supine Hamstring Stretch

Stretching Hamstrings for Back Pain

Prior to any stretching, consult your MD to make sure you are doing the necessary stretches. When treating your pulled back muscle or persistent back pain, all stretching isn’t considered equal. Be sure to consider these things when testing out your new back pain remedy:

  • Don’t push to discomfort. Feel a strong stretch in the back of the leg, but don’t push to pain. In the case of the hamstrings, you have to be careful of surrounding nerves.
  • Make sure to hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds. Research shows that longer, sustained stretches are more beneficial. Make sure you don’t bounce with the stretch. Just hold in the stretching position.
  • In addition to hold times, remain consistent with the hamstring stretches for your back pain. It takes many weeks of consistent stretching to actually make a change in extensibility of the muscles. Although, you will most likely notice a change in your pain sooner.
  • Last, Breathe. Holding your breath not only increases your blood pressure, but it makes you tenser. Which, in the case of stretching, is counter-productive. So, just relax, and breathe!


By improving flexibility, in conjunction with other exercises for back pain, you should see a significant reduction in your pulled back or other back pain symptoms. Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute provides the complete range of orthopedic care. If you complete the hamstring stretches for back pain listed here, and continue to have persistent low back pain, don’t hesitate to contact one of the Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute doctors.


If you are interested in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy, call (904) 858-7045. To make an appointment with a JOI Doctor, call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below. 


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