Tight Leg Muscles
A Perpetuating Factor for Lower Back Pain

Tight leg muscles not only contribute to the onset of back pain but can be a powerful perpetuating factor.

When the long muscles of the legs — the hamstrings, the adductors, the quadriceps, and the hip flexors are tight and short — the result can be to fix the pelvis in place rather than allowing freedom of movement.

This can exert significant pressure on the lower back resulting in lower back pain.

For example, if your hamstrings are short and chronically tight, your pelvis can become fixed in a posterior rotation. This will tend to decrease the natural lordotic curve of your lumbar spine.

When you bend forward at the waist, your lower back will be forced to absorb the work of bending. Instead of the pivot of rotation being at your hip joints, it will move up to the 4th and 5th lumbar vertebra. This puts a heavy asymmetrical load on the lumbars.

The anterior portion of the intervertebral disc gets squashed, while the posterior portion gets overly stretched. Over time, the disc can become weakened, eventually resulting in herniation.

A simple program of stretches for the hamstrings and the other long leg muscles performed at night before going to bed, and then again in the morning upon waking, can go a long way to relieving lower back pain in many individuals.

In addition, a simple set of stretches for the lower back, done in combination with stretches for the legs, can prove even more effective.

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Anatomy Images Courtesy of BIODIGITAL

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Stephen O'Dwyer, cnmt

Neuromuscular Therapist & Pain Relief Researcher

Stephen O'Dwyer, CNMT


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