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Diana Remaley, LMT
Diana@RemaleyMassage.com
(203)292-5362
19 Compo Road South
Westport, CT

Low Back/Hamstring Crossover Stretch

My absolute favorite stretch!

Many clients who come into my office for a massage complain about low back pain. This is the season for gardening, sports, and long vacation car rides. All of these, in addition to the simple act of sitting at a desk all day, can aggravate the low back. The low back (lumbar/sacral) area is complicated, because there are a lot of muscles that lie over each other, and which are difficult to stretch due to the proximity of the pelvis bone.

However, I do this stretch every day, a few times a day; before and after exercising, and before and after giving massages. It works to stretch not only the hamstrings, but most of the low back structures. It takes some time to master, but know that the intention of the stretch is what leads to increased flexibility. Don't be discouraged if you can't do this perfectly the first time, just keep trying!

Anatomy lesson:

First, and most simply, the six muscles included in the hamstring muscle group attach from about the pelvis to head of the knee. We know they flex the thigh at the knee toward our backs. Second, and a little more involved, are a few of the muscles of the low back, attaching to or near the pelvis. For our purposes here, we'll mention the Quadratus Lumborum, Erector spinae group and Multifidus. The latter two run the length of the spine, from the very top of our skull to the sacrum. The first, “QL”, attaches from the lowest rib to the top of the pelvis. It's quite a deep muscle, which makes it involved in more active endeavors, such as running and cycling.

Involving both the hamstring and low back structures at the same time effectively immobilizes the pelvis on the active side, which allows both sides of it to be stretched very well. In other words, the stretch will pin the pelvis and move the muscles away from it on both sides. It feels great!

The Stretch:

Start by putting your left leg up on a fixed surface that is about the level of your pelvis, such as up on a stair or desk. Angle your right foot, flat on the ground, about 45 degrees out. Reach your right (opposite) arm up over your head, then slowly pivot at your pelvis, reaching your hand and arm down toward the toes of the elevated foot. Ideally, you could reach your hand past the elevated toes easily, and lower your torso down on to your elevated leg. Take a deep breath and lean into the stretch for about 10 seconds. Release gently, and repeat on the other side. If you can't reach your toes the first time (or maybe you aren't even close!) don't be discouraged. Flexibility in the spine takes a long time to develop, but is completely worth it!

Keep working on your low back stretching – you'll also find that after a massage therapy session, this stretch will come much easier. I'd be happy to demonstrate this stretch for you the next time you're in my Westport office. Enjoy!

 



Avatar: James Mackinder

Re: Low Back/Hamstring Crossover Stretch

This is an Amazing Stretch..! I discovered through trial + error a very similar stretch to this one which released 20 years of intermittent, unpredictable + debilitating lower rhs back pain for me. Something in my lower back rhs had been on + off causing me extreme discomfort, tenderness + sensitivity for 20 years. It felt like a trapped nerve or a supertight tendon, ligament or muscle which would spasm on occasion + put my lower back rhs completely out of alignment + cause extreme discomfort. When I did this stretch either a nerve, muscle, ligament or tendon in my lower back rhs instantly released + stretched out and that was that, total back pain relief. I do this exercise a couple of times a day. It's easy, quick + enjoyable to do. I continue to get further, less extreme, releases + stretches every week and I have had no lower back pain since the initial stretch + release. I have tried probably 100 different stretches over the past 20 years, many of which provided temporary relief, but none which were able to pinpoint the exact source of my discomfort + totally remove it.  

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Diana Remaley, LMT
Diana@RemaleyMassage.com
(203)292-5362
19 Compo Road South
Westport, CT