Tight leg muscles can cause back pain

Pilates Lennox Head

Written by Bridgid Pearse

June 30, 2020

What I love about Pilates is that we focus on the connections in the body, rather than looking at the parts as essentially seperate or whole in themselves. When you look at the connections it gives you an understanding of how the parts of our bodies work together to support each other. This allows us to see if one part is super tight or weak, how this can impact the rest of the body and our levels of pain.

The length of your leg muscles can directly impact how your pelvis sits which is the foundation for your spine. If the front of your legs are tight this can pull your pelvis forward leading to an increased arch in your lower back (lordosis). If the back of your legs are tighter than the front this can pull the back of your pelvis down and pull the natural curve out of the lumbar spine. Misalignment of the spine either way can put pressure on the muscles in the back causing tightness and spasm. Misalignment can also put additional pressure on vertebrae and over time can cause nerve damage and nerve pain.

Back Pain
Leg muscle length and spinal position

The length of your leg muscles matters. It’s worth stretching them regularly. Delightful ways to stretch the back of your legs include:

  • Lying on the floor with your legs up a wall, focus on making your tail bone and back of your hips heavy into the floor and reaching your heels to the ceiling.
  • Grab a theraband and lying on the floor put one foot into it. Press your foot into the band until you can get the leg straight (or close to). Reach your heel away from you as you breath, then repeat on your other leg.

Lovely ways to stretch the front of your legs include:

  • Stand facing a wall with a chair with a soft seat behind you. Stand tall and bend one knee, to bring your foot up behind you, place your knee on the edge of the seat, use your other hand to steady on on the wall, you can bend your standing leg, breath and then do the other leg.
  • Lying face down on the floor bend one knee to bring your foot towards your bottom, grab your foot with your hand if you can and breath. To deepen the stretch tuck your pelvis to push your pubic bone into the floor.

As is the case with most movement, breathing is an essential part of letting the muscles find new length. To see a difference in muscle tightness you will need to be stretching everyday for at least two weeks to gain prolonged benefit. If you are doing the right stretch for you, you will feel a little better straight away.

I am Brigid Pearse a certified Pilates instructor and ex-dancer. I run a fully equipped Pilates studio from my home in Lennox Head and I run community Pilates mat classes in Byron Bay and Ballina and online. To receive regular body wisdom sign up below.

Post-natal movement & Pilates

Pilates Goonellabah

Thanks for reading!

I am Brigid Pearse, comprehensively certified Pilates teacher, ex-dancer, and mid-life mum. In group classes, workshops and private sessions I help women learn to move well for life.

You may also like



  1. Can I exercise with a disc injury? – Move to Nurture - […] injury has been caused by movement patterns that hold our spine out of alignment. This may be from tight…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *