I have severe back pain. I can barely sit with my legs straight, much less lean towards my toes. How can I gently stretch my hamstrings?

Martina N.
I’d say you are better off stretching more time in positions that don’t give you pain. Start with a simple one, like Standing up and letting your torso drop, breathing and then coming back up flexing your knees and rolling yourself up (last thing to come up is your head).
Peyton O.
I always turn to Yoga with Adrienne when I am suffering. She can be found on YouTube and has amazing videos specifically for what’s troubling you. Ranging from beginners to advanced so you can choose your level. Her classes are well paced and fun. Can’t recommend enough.
Jan A.
As a physical therapist, I recommend you find somebody to help you stretch. First if you can, do light exercises for your back to help strengthen the muscles in your lower back especially, while lying on your back on a mat. Then with the help of a friend, or family member, instruct them to gently raise your stretched out leg upwards while pulling your toes towards you. Stop them once you feel pain, or that your knee will flex. Hold each leg for 30 seconds.
Kirk U.
Hello there,
Yep, the answer is in that questions you just asked. If sitting with your legs stretched out is going to stretch your hamstrings, do that! Don’t think of stretching your hamstrings as leaning and grabbing your toes. stretching you’re hamstrings is making a pose that will stretch your hamstrings. When you are stretching you’re hamstrings, make sure you aren’t pushing too far. There’s are two ways to know whether your are pushing too far or not : you’re legs start shaking, and your legs hurt the next day you wake up. If you do push too hard, as a mistake, then stretch you’re hamstrings at least 2 times a day. Whenever you have a body part in pain, stretch it. You might want to start stretching your back too.
Vero Q.
Lay in the bed, and ask someone to bend your leg upwards. There is still a lot of ways to strecth without having your back pain, but i suggest you should stretch your back a little bit as well.
Ann O.
You can stand up next to a wall or use a stool, baseboard, etc. Gently point your toes up and a press them against the object. Lean into the leg and hold as long as you need.
Teresa S.
Start yoga therapy. They're individual sessions with a practicioner that is simultaneously physiotherapist and yoga teacher. She/he will know how to help you step by step into getting more movement. I had severe back problem 10years ago. The last doctor i saw had told me "I'm sorry, I have to say you lost movement, and the sooner you accept, the best". I didn't accept it. Researched a lot, found a yoga therapy practicioner, and finally started the recovery process. I further added physiotherapy in swiming pool (must be in the water, otherwise doesn't work). It's a very slow process, takes courage. But the courage is self reinforcing when you're getting better rather then worse. After 2 years I recovered movement completely. Of course, i still need to take care, for the rest of my life i will. But it's not an issue since I learned a lot in the process, and know which exercises work in my body and can make it practical. Currently, i dance, run, do yoga, climbing, i can do all movement i like. Hope this helps. Wish you good recovery!
Kiera F.
Try sitting in a chair and just gently tip your pelvis forward, like you’re putting a tiny arch in your back. If it doesn’t feel like anything try moving your feet a few inches forward and try it again.
Alix S.
Lie on your back with 1 leg straight and 1 @ a 90° angle (or as close to it as you can get- use a yoga strap or towel if necessary). Keep your hips square on the floor. Keep raised leg straight. If you need someone to help push your leg up, ask for help.

If 1 leg at a time it's too much, I'll do both legs, with minimal stretching in repetitions (but hold the stretch- don't rubberband)

Jade N.
I’m not a doctor but I’ve found and watched other people lay on their backend put your legs up to the wall and you can start there. If you put one leg straight and bend your other leg that’s also an option rather than both legs straight. You can also stand up and spread your legs out as far as you can and just lean in. You should do every stretch for 30 seconds and then 4x a week and you should be able to reach your legs. The trick is not to over stretch because you can pull something but to stretch right where you feel the pain and then don’t bounce to reach farther only reach and stay. Remember to breathe!
Zee O.
For back pain please look into Epsom Salt baths. It is good for pain and swelling. Massages may be good as well if pain is from tightened muscles. For hamstring stretches please look to Youtube. You'll be able to see the exercises and find out if they are gentle enough to start with. I hope you will have no more pain and can get to the flexibilty level you desire.
Alexis B.
Find some stairs. Whether in your house, in the corridors of your apartment block or in the offices at work… Chose one step, hold onto a hand rail and face so the stairs are going up in front of you. Move your feet so only your toes are on the edge of the step and the rest of your feet and your ankles are hanging off the end. Slowly let your weight press down through your heels and and feel the stretch through your hamstrings.
Emily W.
wow i’m not sure! i occasionally suffer from sciatic pain (sounds like maybe what you are dealing with…?) all i can say is start slowly and gently but try to spend time every day stretching it out. would sitting in a hot bath or sauna also help loosen your hamstrings beforehand too?
Liz Y.
I find it better to lie flat on my back and use a towel or strap held in my hands and looped around my foot. That way I protect my back but can still stretch each leg as strongly as I like by straightening it and using the band to pull gently towards me.
Klaudija P.
The softest stretch would be to while you're sitting on the bed, with legs straight out, just to try to lift your toes towards your face and that way stretch your lower leg and the upper one. Together. Then as you lean down with your upper body towards your legs, you will stretch it more. This is the softest one, considering you're suffering from pain
Franti Ek X.
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Teka P.
Try to lay down on your back on the floor, relax all muscles, then fold one leg, touching your right foot on your left knee and vice versa. After you’ve done it multiple times, it’ll stretch enough for you to be able to do it whilst sitting down.
Han N.
If more comfortable for your back try laying on your back and bringing your leg up, pull you knee towards you face. It will be very tight at first but it the same stretch just backwards. Or try sitting like you normally would to do that stretch but instead of leaning forward put something under your heels and lift your feet up until you feel the stretch.
Jessica Q.
Without assessing you properly this is only an educated guess, but you’re more likely needing to stretch your glutes and quads. If you can lay on your back and bring one leg gently up to your chest at a time, this is a good start. Try straighten the leg as you slowly ease into the stretch (one at a time!) with the other leg flat on the ground.
Mira N.
You can try raising up on leg not too high only around 45 degree count to 15 if you can’t keep it up it the number 15 try to 10 don’t count too fast count in a normal way. You can do it while lying down on your back or sitting on your bed. Try to do it ten times if you felt you can do more then do it. If you felt tired rest for some time. After that you can put a warm piece of cloth on your hamstrings and rest. You may sleep after it. You can also put a cold piece cloth on your knee after you do the exercise. This exercise will strength your knee and stretch you hamstrings. At first it will be hard but then it will be easier. Trust me it is a very good exercise and I have did it to strength my knee and stretch my hamstrings. If you need anything you can always send me!
Christian E.
Definitely try it in the water first (gym with swimming pool helps). Do a series of light motion stretching and then increase intensity every week. Helps with pain due to lesser gravity pull, no matter what shape you are in.
Amelia V.
It would be best to speak to your doctor about severe pain and what level of activity is safe for you. They will also be able to recommend specific exercises or maybe even refer you to a physical therapist or another professional who can help you
Christine G.
Since your back pain is so severe, this would be a question to ask your doctor – you wouldn't want to harm your back further. But I'm sure your doctor would have several suggestions for gentle exercises and stretching. There are many great methods, even from a chair. Good luck!