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Your Hamstrings – The Human Parking Brake

Creator of Bad Backs

Have you ever gotten into your car and left the parking brake on and attempted to drive? You may have thought, “Somethings wrong here, this car isn’t moving properly?” Once you realized the parking brake was on and released it, the car started to move more freely and with less resistance. Well, welcome to tight hamstrings. Your hamstrings are a critical muscle group for proper spinal function and so many other normal functions such as walking, bending over, squatting, as well as your posture. As a matter of fact, if people knew how critical the hamstrings were to proper movement and function of the lower back, I think they would take better care of them by stretching and mobilizing them on a regular basis. How tight are your hamstrings? Lay on the floor and lift one leg at a time, can you get to 90°? I didn’t think so!

Cause of a bad back!

Can your hamstrings cause a “bad back”? Absolutely, I know it may be hard to believe but after 25 years of taking care of patients, I can tell you that people with “bad backs” have this one thing in common, the have tight hamstrings. Let’s talk about why we have tight hamstrings, especially kids now. We SIT way too much! When we sit, the knees are flexed causing the hamstrings to be in a semi contracted position, meaning they are not being stretched at all. When we stand, the knees and hips extend and the hamstrings have to lengthen. Your hamstrings attach to the back of your pelvis, into an area called your ischial tuberosity (look it up). When your hamstrings are tight, it pulls your pelvis backwards and flattens your lumbar lordosis (lumbar curve), which is critical to support your lower back. Without a proper lumbar lordosis, the natural arch in your lower back, all of your body weight compresses into your lumbar spine, causing pressure in the discs and joints of the lower back. This leads to eventual spinal problems such as bulging and herniated discs, joint misalignment, compressed or pinched nerves, muscle spasms and PAIN.

A functional fitness screen can help

Most of our patients are assessed using a “functional fitness screen” (have you had one lately?). With this, we can see that if they have tight hamstrings, as well as other tight muscles that are critical to proper spinal function. When we see problems with mobility and flexibility, we prescribe postural and mobility exercises to address tight hamstrings and/or other muscles and this makes a HUGE difference with lower back problems, especially if they are chronic in nature. Remember, the ultimate rigidity is called “Rigor Mortis”. Life is motion and motion is movement. Posture, movement and alignment are critical to your quality of life. Get up, get moving and get stretching those hamstrings! Ask a doc or trainer, they’ll how you how!   Wellness Solution Centers www.wscenters.com