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Hamstring Tightness: Is It The Cause Of Your Back Pain?

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Many of our patients come into the clinic with the complaint that they ALWAYS have tight hamstrings. It seems like no matter how much they stretch or foam roll, it never seems to make a difference. They attribute their tight hamstrings to their back stiffness and pain. Could it be that even though you have “tight” hamstrings, there might be another reason for your back pain. The key to determine the back pain is figure out why the hamstrings are constantly tight in the first place. There is actually a reason why our body (hamstrings) tighten up which can add more force on to the back and surrounding muscle groups. 
The first tip in ending the constant tight hamstrings/back pain debate is to understand how the hamstrings play an important role, along with the glutes to help with control and stabilization of the hips and back. When a muscle is always tight and stretching does not seem to make a difference, why continue to do it? If flexibility was the main issue wouldn’t it have worked by now? Shouldn’t I feel looser? The answer is, “yes”! If this sounds like you, it is more likely that you have a motor control/stability issue, rather than a flexibility issue. When patient’s come in complaining of back pain and tight hamstrings one of the key things to look at is their strength. The majority of the time they are lacking strength in the hamstrings and glutes and tend to overuse their back or their quads to make up the difference. Our bodies are smart and will adapt at any cost to complete motion, even if it isn’t the best quality. When there is a lack of strength and stability in these muscles they can actually tighten to protect our spine since we lack that control. This is how we try to prevent an injury, however, in turn you are now left with weak, tight muscles. 

How Do I Strengthen?
There are many ways in which you can regain strength in what we call the “posterior chain”.  (Note: These are just general exercises and may not be the most effective for your particular issues)

  • Bridges
  • ​Donkey kicks on your stomach
  • Kicks lying on your side
  • Lateral band walks
  • ​​​Deadlifts

These are all great exercises that can begin to add strength back into these muscles. Even though there are things that can be done at home, it is important to note that being assessed by a professional is the best option so they can make a complete diagnosis and plan of care based on your signs and symptoms. 

Physical Therapy is the preferred method for back pain in all but the most severe surgical cases and would include hands on manual techniques, dry needling (if needed and wanted), soft tissue work, joint mobility work, stretching, strengthening, kinesiotaping (if needed), likely working on the hip and the ankle, and whatever else you needed that would get you better.  Getting relief won’t take long and many people leave feeling better the first day. Even if you didn’t leave feeling better the first day it would only take 1-2 more visits max to start noticing improvements. However, starting that first day you would feel better right away knowing what is wrong and having a plan to fix it.  

If you would like more information on how we might be able to help you get rid of your back pain please click the button below to schedule a time we can talk.  If you know you are ready to get some help right away you can call us at 720-651-0674 or email at

If you want even more information on how to ease your back pain click the image below for our FREE Ebook on Low Back Pain. 


KinetikChain Physical Therapy

We Help People In Denver Quickly Recover From Pain Or Injury So They Can Stay Active In Their Favorite Sport/Hobby, Continue Exercising, And Get Back To What They Love To Do.


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