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Sitting Badly Isn't Magically Healthy by Calling It a Hamstring Stretch

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You already know that sitting bent over your desk, steering wheel, and computer is unhealthy for your back. Then you go to the gym and sit bent over to touch your toes to stretch. It is the same bad bending. It is not magically different or healthy because it is called a stretch.

Sitting and leaning forward to touch toes, even with your back straight, is a common contributor to lower back pain. It may stretch your back and legs, but sitting, especially sitting bent forward puts high forces on the discs of your lower back.

The sitting hamstring stretch also practices the same bad bent forward posture that you already are probably overdoing at your computer, desk, and other daily activities. Modern lifestyle predominantly favors being bent forward, overstretching your back and tightening the front of your body until it becomes natural to slouch forward and uncomfortable to stand straight. Lower back discs become increasingly squashed and pressed outward from all the forward bending. It starts feeling “normal” to stand and move with your back rounded in unhealthy position.

Sitting and bending forward is not even the most effective way to stretch your hamstrings, even though it is a common stretch, and has been done for many years. Many things that are common and traditional are also not healthy, like smoking and hostility. Use healthy ways instead. The previous post Healthier Hamstring Stretching shows one easy effective hamstring stretch. Posts to come will show many more.Check back often.

Every day in my Sports Medicine practice, I see patients who are instructors of yoga, Pilates, and aerobics with ongoing back pain from doing bad stretches. They say they need the stretch because their back hurts. Then they learn that much of their pain is from the stretch. When they realize this, they smile, stop the bent over stretches, both sitting and standing. I show them more effective hamstring stretches to do instead. They quickly become more flexible from the better stretches, and the pain stops that they were getting from pressuring their discs and lower back with sitting bent forward. Have fun using your brain for stretching, and putting health back into fitness.

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About the Author


M.Ed, PhD, FAWM

Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.

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