Banchory Spinal Health

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The Best Stretch for Back Pain


“The best stretch for back pain” is quite a bold title for me, but before I get into this post – please be aware that I am not advocating this stretch as a quick fix for back pain, nor am I suggesting that you do this stretch as a replacement for seeking professional help for your condition.  If you have back pain, you should seek professional help, no exceptions.

That being said, if there were a safe stretch that you could do in the mean time, that might temporarily alleviate your suffering somewhat without risk of injury, this would be it.

In a Western/ developed society it is a sad fact that we are all a little bit sedentary (we spend too much time sitting, have I mentioned that before?!).  This causes a great deal of problems which I won’t go into here, but one of the problems it causes is chronic shortening/tightening of the hamstring muscle group.  These are the muscles that are located at the back of your thighs.  They are the ones that footballers frequently sprain!

Tight hamstrings can alter your posture, they can pull on the tissues of the pelvis and lower back which causes a decrease in the natural lumbar lordosis (the nice neutral “inwards” curve of the lower back.  This opens up the lumbar facet joints slightly, resulting in a dramatic decrease in lumbar stability, and increasing the load on the discs (worried about a disc problem?  Read THIS).

So as a general basic rule I like everyone to keep their hamstrings as relaxed as possible.

HOWEVER there are good ways to stretch your hamstrings, and there are bad ways.

For the sake of simplicity here is a bad way:


I am not a fan of this one.  The hamstrings are probably getting stretched here but more importantly, so is the lumbar spine!  In my opinion this is not a safe hamstring stretch if you are also suffering with lower back pain.  Lumbar spine instability is a very common problem, and stretching it out like this might not be a good idea if you don’t know exactly what is causing your lower back pain.

Here is my preferred method of stretching your hamstrings:


Notice how she is maintaining her neutral lumbar curve, therefore eliminating any risk to her lumbar spinal joints.

My recommended “dose” of this stretch is to perform it for 10seconds, on both sides, for a MINIMUM of 3 times per day.  If you want to do it more frequently than that, go ahead.

NOTE: If whilst performing this stretch you feel intense pain, pins and needles or numbness in either one of your legs, please stop and seek professional help immediately.


Do you do this stretch?  How do you find it?


Nothing compares to a professional assessment and treatment.  Please call us on 01330 824040 for an appointment if you are suffering.


Felicity Rogers

Felicity graduated from the Welsh Institute of Chiropractic in 2007 upon completion of a BSC degree in Chiropractic and has been working as a Chiropractor in the UK for over 7 years.

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