The sciatic pain that can radiate down your leg when you have a lumbar herniated disc can make you want to stay immobile.

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Video: Hamstring Exercises for Low Back Pain Relief

A visual demonstration of hamstring exercises and stretches that can help relieve lower back pain. Watch Now

But to find relief from pain, you actually need to do the opposite. Daily stretching—done carefully—is one of the best ways to tackle herniated disc pain.

See Non-Surgical Treatment for a Lumbar Herniated Disc

These three hamstring stretches can help you strengthen your hamstring muscles, which in turn supports your core and back. They're fairly safe, but avoid doing them if they cause sudden, acute pain or if you're having a flare of sciatica pain.

Stretching for Back Pain Relief


Seated chair stretch

This stretch is ideal for those with limited mobility or exceptionally tight hamstrings, as it is done in a seated position. To perform this stretch:

  • Sit on a chair with another chair across from you.
  • Rest one foot on the ground and the other upon the chair across from you.
  • Straighten the back and lean forward over the extended leg.
  • Once a stretch is felt in the upper, rear thigh, hold that position for 15 to 30 seconds.
  • Switch legs and repeat at least three times per leg.

Watch Seated Chair Hamstring Stretch for Sciatica Relief Video

Beginning each day with this stretch can help to gradually loosen and strengthen the hamstring muscle.

See Hamstring Stretching Exercises for Sciatica Pain Relief

Towel hamstring stretch

If you prefer to stretch while lying down, the towel hamstring stretch may be a good option. To perform this stretch:

  • Lie on the floor with one leg flat.
  • Tighten the abdominal muscles while lifting the opposite leg, keeping it straight.
  • Wrap a towel or belt around the instep of the elevated leg, using it to pull the leg back towards you.
  • Once a stretch is felt, hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds.
  • Switch legs and repeat at least 3 times per leg.

Watch Supine Hamstring Stretch (Towel Hamstring Stretch) for Low Back Pain and Sciatica Relief Video

To make the stretch more comfortable, lie on a soft surface such as carpet or a yoga mat, or on a padded physical therapy table at your gym.

See Easy Exercise Program for Low Back Pain Relief

Wall hamstring stretch

Some people find the towel hamstring stretch is difficult to do because of the effort involved in lifting your leg up without support. If this is the case, you may want to have the extra stability of a solid surface—like a wall or door jamb—to rest your raised leg against. Here is how it's done:

  • Lie on the floor near the corner of a wall or a door jamb.
  • Leaving one leg straight on the ground, place the other against the wall, bent at the knee.
  • Slowly straighten the leg against the wall while keeping your hips on the floor.
  • Hold your leg stretched against the wall for about 15 to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 2 to 3 times for each leg.

Watch Wall Hamstring Stretch for Low Back Pain Relief Video

When doing any stretches, only go into the stretch as far as is comfortable for you—never stretch to the point of pain. Hamstrings can become quite stiff and tight over time, especially if you have herniated disc pain and have limited your amount of exercise.

See Lumbar Herniated Disc Symptoms

Learn more:

Specific Hamstring Stretches for Back Pain Relief

5 Little-Known Tips for Lumbar Herniated Disc Pain Relief