3 Approaches to Strong Hamstrings, Good Posture and a Healthy Low Back

To prevent and manage low back pain, you need good pelvic alignment.For that, turn to your hip muscles! Hip muscles are located all around the joint: Front, outside, inside and in back. Here you'll meet 3 approaches to strengthening your hamstring muscles. Located at the back of your thigh and hip, hamstrings play an important role in keeping your low back in line.


General Hamstring Strengthening Exercises

Woman doing a hip bridge

SrdjanPav / Getty Images

One approach to making strong hamstrings is to grab a mat or a piece of floor and do "land-based" exercises. Examples of such exercises include hip bridges (which can get very intense, by the way) and others.

Hamstrings are 2-joint muscles, which, as the name implies, and unlike most muscles of the body, means they cross over two joints. Hamstrings cross both the hip and the knee. (Another 2-joint muscle is the quadriceps, which also crosses over both hip and knee. The difference is the quadriceps are located at the front of your thigh, while the hamstrings are located in back.)

For our purposes in seeking back fitness and pain relief, we are mainly concerned with the hamstring's relationship to the pelvis. Hamstring exercises for the knee are, for the most part, an entirely different discussion.

For many hamstring strengthening exercises, the best way to realize a benefit is to make an extra effort to keep the back of your pelvic bone dropped down. This brings the hamstring attachment, which is on the pelvis, closer to the back of the thigh. Such an approximation between the two bones may help you better engage the muscle.


Exercise Ball Hamstring Strengtheners

Woman doing plank exercise on exercise ball

Bojan89 / Getty Images

Replacing the floor or ground with an exercise ball may challenge your core stability as well as your hip muscles. The round surface, and tendency to roll, possessed by an exercise ball removes the inherited stability provided when you do "land-based" exercises. In this case, your core, pelvic and hip muscles must take on this important responsibility. When you have to stabilize yourself (instead of relying on the floor to provide it to you,) you may find your trunk strength, coordination, body awareness improve.

And, the tendency of the exercise ball to roll can also be used to challenge your body with new moves not possible with general "land-based" strengthening exercises.


Resistance Band Challenges for Your Hamstrings and Back

A resistance band, also known as theraband, can help bring some spring back into your muscles. It provides a sort of movable resistance — one that responds to the degree of pressure you put into it. Not only that, but by giving you something to feel as you move your leg, the resistance from the band provides a bit of guidance, or structure. This may help keep things in better alignment as you do the exercises. 

Perhaps more important, a resistance band may help you replace less efficient type motion that comes from your knee or foot (or both) with quality movement that comes from your hip. Because hip movement is often key to low back health, this kind of focus may prove fruitful to you as you exercise your way to pain relief.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Harvard Health Publishing. 4 ways to turn good posture into less back pain.

  2. Reis FJJ, Macedo AR. Influence of hamstring tightness in pelvic, lumbar and trunk range of motion in low back pain and asymptomatic volunteers during forward bending. Asian Spine J. 2015;9(4):535-540. doi. 10.4184%2Fasj.2015.9.4.535

  3. The Hamilton Spectator. Low-impact exercises help with hip pain.

  4. The National Academy of Sports Medicine. The Problem with the Hamstring Problem.

By Anne Asher, CPT
Anne Asher, ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, and orthopedic exercise specialist, is a back and neck pain expert.