Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tight Hamstrings Lower Back Pain Cause

Tight Hamstrings Lower Back Pain Cause The hamstrings and the lower back are connected by the pelvis. The hamstring is composed of tendons and three muscles that run from the back of the knee to the back of the pelvis; this network is responsible for ending the knee behind the middle line of the body when the hip is extended (such as when running or walking). Via the hip connection, tight hamstrings can cause lower back pain.

When a muscle is tight, its length is shortened. This can occur in a number of ways. Overuse of the hamstring without stretching can cause it to be chronically tight. This is often accompanied by weak quadriceps and hip flexors such as the psoas, since the hamstrings will fail to relax and allow them to do work. Failure to stretch and exercise in a balanced manner can lead to this muscle imbalance. On the other hand, the opposite imbalance can cause the hamstring to tighten. If the hip flexors and quadriceps are overly tight, the hamstrings will be stretched and weak. Weak muscles can quickly experience fatigue due to their lack of strength. Fatigued muscles have a difficult time relaxing. If a weak hamstring does not relax when the quadricep contracts, it can become torn or pulled. This is a very common type of injury, especially in athletes.
Muscles work as a sort of pulley system; if they are not balanced in length, strength and flexibility, then any number of structures within the body may be pulled out of alignment. The hamstring muscles and hip extensors are intricately related; if one is tight, the other is bound to be tight also. If these are tight, the muscles performing the opposite functions - hip flexors and knee extensors (quads) -- will be weak and lengthened. Muscles of the upper legs and hips are a crucial part of pelvic stabilization. Since the pelvis is the base of the spine, pelvic stabilization is the foundation of spinal stabilization.
Shortened, tight hamstrings exert a downward pull on the pelvis. Since the quadriceps and hip flexors are long and weak, they cannot balance this force with an equal pull in the opposite direction. As the pelvis is pulled downward in the back, the lower back loses its natural arch (called lordosis). As the spine is forced to flatten, the discs between vertebrae experience increased pressure in the front, possibly leading to early disc degeneration.
The muscles of the lower back are also strained by tight hamstrings. The proper way to bend forward is at the hip joints. When the pelvis is pulled backward, however, you have to bend from the lower back. This type of work in unnatural for the lower back muscles, and can lead to chronic strain.
Because of the compensatory tendencies of tight muscles, it is necessary to loosen them before attempting exercise. While stretching is a good way to restore length and flexibility to tight muscles, a technique called self-myofascial release (SMR) is more effective and the best first step of treatment for tight hamstrings. In this technique, you use a dense foam roller to compress and loosen the hamstring, effectively turning it off so that other muscles can begin to work. See this video of hamstring SMR for a better idea: As with any form of back pain exercise, it is best to be trained by a physical therapist in proper technique.
Once your hamstrings have been neutralized, you can move on to develop your quadricep and hip flexor muscles, which will help to stabilize your pelvis. Consult a physical therapist to assure that your exercise plan does not create the same or another painful imbalance. Educating yourself on how muscles work together will help protect you from back pain.

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