Lower back pain is among the most prevalent causes of disability across the globe. Individuals who work physically demanding jobs or those with poor health are among those most commonly affected however, people who are seated for prolonged periods of time are also at risk.

I’ve been there. In my early 30s, I suffered a lower back as I got up from the chair. I was initially thinking that it was just an injury of minor severity but, even several weeks later I was still experiencing flare-ups, which made any kind of exercise difficult.

Fortunately, as an orthopedic doctor and surgeon of sports medicine this day, I’ve found an exercise that’s helped me to keep the lower back pain at low levels: the straight-leg stretch of the hamstring.

It is important to complete this stretch in the morning, before my life interferes or before I’m exhausted by an exercise.

How do you perform the straight-leg stretch of the hamstring

Lumbar spine and stretching hamstrings can help relieve and reduce lower back discomfort, so it’s a form of exercise that could help alleviate any flare-ups. Each day I do straight-leg hamstring stretching, with slight modifications.

Here’s how:

1. Your right foot should be placed about 18 inches from the other. Keep your feet and toes pointed forwards, and spaced at a reasonable distance of 18 inches.

2. Move your hips forward and extend your arms towards the front. Be sure not to round you lower back.

3. Keep it for 20 to 30 seconds.

Part 1: Put one foot approximately 18 inches ahead of the other. Next, bend forward at your hips and extend your arms to the side.

Image: Emily Scott

4. To complete the second portion of the stretch you should push your hips upwards while you stretch backwards, by arching your lower back while keep your hands to your sides.

5. Maintain that position and stretch the hip flexors of the leg that is trailing for 20-30 minutes.

6. Repeat the entire stretch on the opposite side using your left leg in front of you.

Part 2: Press your hips forward while you stretch backwards, while arching your lower back while keeping your hands by your sides.

Image: Emily Scott

Emily Scott, a physical therapy professional, recommends this stretch to people who have work that requires sitting. “Technology has led us to be inactive,” she says. “Sitting is the majority of our time now and the hip flexors taking the majority of the strain.”

Get ahead of your painby doing the straight-leg stretch of your hamstring before you get up at your workstation.

The secret to having a healthy and pain-free back is to be physically active

While stretching can make up for the lack of exercise routine, it’s vital to keep your body active to prevent lower back discomfort.

To keep moving during your workday, take the stairs instead of using the elevator, or walk around the office and talk to your colleagues rather than sending them direct messages or emails.

One thing I like doing is holding meetings in a standing position instead of sitting at an office table. If you work at home, you might want to consider having breaks outdoors or investing in an ergonomic desk.

Dr. David Geier is a orthopedic surgeon who is double board certified, a medical specialist in sports, as well as a osteoporosis and joint health specialist for Better Life Carolinas. He assists athletes and active individuals get their best performance whatever their age or injury or medical issues. Follow him on Twitter @drdavidgeier.

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