The hamstrings are a group of 4 muscle bellies that run from the very bottom point of the pelvis, along the back of the leg, to insert into the 2 bones of the lower leg.
We think of these muscles being predominantly associated with the knee (running, kicking etc.), but because the hamstrings originate on the pelvis, they have a significant effect on the lower back.
When the hamstrings become tight, they become less elastic – less able to stretch. You've probably noticed that you your foot doesn't move as high when you've tried to kick a football with tight hamstrings.
What you might not have noticed, is when you've bent over to tie up your shoes with tight hamstrings, your pelvis doesn't tilt quite so far as it would if your hamstrings were more supple. You didn't notice, because when your pelvis becomes "locked-up" by your hamstrings, your lower back makes up the difference. In practical terms, very little changes, but the extra movement through the low back will cause chronic injuries if left unchecked.
The tiny facet joints between the vertebrae of the lower back, and the long, thin muscles of the lower back aren't designed for all of that extra strain. After some time, you will develop low back pain.
Luckily, preventing hamstring-related low back pain is easy. Just stretch your hamstrings regularly. Standing, put your foot on an elevated platform (like a windowsill), bend you knee slightly until you feel a slight pull through your hamstrings, then lean forward though your pelvis to increase the stretch.
For more information on hamstrings, email me directly via the contact page. For specific information on an injury you have, or for treatment, contact one of my clinics directly. You can find that information here.
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Dr Mitch Clark