Are you experiencing back pain? If so, you are absolutely not alone! Some 3.7 million Australians suffer from back problems.
As you are likely well aware, an aching back can really put a damper on your quality of life.
Treating pain with medication, whether prescription painkillers or over-the-counter analgesics, doesn't treat the issue. It only relieves the symptoms -- if it works at all, that is. A better way to ease your back pain is by doing simple hamstring stretches to keep your back muscles loose and relaxed.
Read on for more information, including four of the best ways to stretch your pain away!
Why Hamstring Stretches?
The hamstrings are large leg muscles that run from the hip to the back of the knee. When these muscles are tight, they can increase the stress and strain on your lower back. In some cases, they can even cause back pain.
The following stretches should be held for 30-60 seconds. Don't overreach. Trying to stretch further than your natural range of motion can exacerbate your pain, or even damage the hamstrings.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Sit in a straight-backed chair and extend one leg out in front of you, with the toes pointed toward the ceiling. The other leg should be bent at the knee, foot flat on the ground. Make sure you're sitting up tall, with your pelvis tilted forward.
Keeping your back straight, bend at the waist until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Your hands can go on your waist or on the leg you're not stretching. Avoid pushing down on the leg that is being stretched with your hands.
Switch legs and repeat. For a variation on the seated hamstring stretch, place your foot on another chair directly in front of you instead of keeping it on the floor.
Supine Hamstring Stretch
For this one, you'll lie down on your back. Loop a yoga strap, belt, or rolled-up towel around the arch of one foot and use it to bring your leg straight up until you feel that the hamstring stretches.
To avoid aggravating your back, try to keep it pressed against the floor during this stretch.
Forward Fold or Standing Stretch
If you've ever practiced yoga, you know that the pose known as "forward fold" provides an excellent way to loosen your hamstrings. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and bend at the waist.
Be careful not to lock your knees. Let your arms hang down toward the floor. It's OK if you can't touch your toes!
If you have an especially sore lower back, this gentle method of stretching will be helpful. It places a minimal strain on the back and uses the floor to support your body.
Lie on your back with your legs extended up a wall. Keep your buttocks as close to the wall as possible. Imagine a 90 degree angle between your legs and upper body.
Try to straighten your knees, but again, don't lock them.
Need More Relief?
In addition to regular hamstring stretches, handheld back massager can do wonders to loosen your muscles and alleviate your pain -- not to mention the fact that they feel amazing!
Do you have any tips for preventing back pain? What stretches or other techniques have you found helpful when your back is aching? Let us know in the comments.