Slideshow: Hamstring Stretches for Back Pain Relief

Collage of hamstring stretches for back pain relief
Tight hamstrings can contribute to lower back pain. Hamstring muscles run through the back of each thigh, from the hip down to the back of the knee. There are many stretches targeting the hamstring muscles that are gentle and easy to do. These stretches may be most effective when done for a duration of 30 to 60 seconds, but you can start at 10 to 20 seconds per stretch until you feel more comfortable.
Image of man performing towel hamstring stretch for back pain relief

Towel Hamstring Stretch

Lie flat on your back with your legs straight out. Gently bend your right knee, bringing your right thigh to your chest, your left leg still against the ground. Loop a towel around your right thigh or the bottom of your right foot, and holding both ends of the towel, slowly straighten the leg, trying to get the bottom of the foot to face the ceiling. Hold this position. Repeat this process for the left leg.
Image of woman performing wall hamstring stretch for back pain relief

Wall Hamstring Stretch

Lie flat on your back with your buttocks positioned against a wall (or beside a door frame or the arm of a couch). Keeping your left leg flat against the ground, place your right leg against the wall, gently straightening it out to make a 90-degree angle. Hold the position. Repeat this stretch for the left leg.
Image of three people doing variations of the seated hamstring stretch for back pain relief

Seated Hamstring Stretch

Sit on the edge of a chair, both feet flat on the floor. Next, straighten your right leg in front of your body with the heel on the floor. Then, lean forward, but keep your shoulders and head upright. Hold this stretch. Repeat 3 times for each leg.
Image of woman doing standing hamstring stretch for back pain relief

Standing Hamstring Stretch

Stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend forward at the waist, hanging your arms down toward the ground, keeping your legs straight without locking your knees. Reach for your toes until you feel a slight pulling sensation in your hamstrings. This stretch is not always recommended, as it may be too difficult to do and/or exacerbate pain from a lumbar herniated disc, spondylolisthesis, or other specific conditions.