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How To Prevent Lower Back Pain When Running

Poor Posture And Training Plans

How To Stop Lower Back Pain When Running (STRETCHING)

Running is best for your health but only when done in the right manner. There are a lot of aspects that should be followed when making running a part of your routine.

To begin with, you should follow training plans made by professionals in the field. Running abruptly and more than your limit increases the chances of falling prey to low back pain.

Back pain is often experienced by runners who do not give attention to the biomechanics of the body and start off without a warm-up.

Running with improper postures shifts the body weight to one side, increasing the chances of muscle sprains.

How To Stop Back Pain When Running

As a runner, its not unusual to experience some back pain at one point or the other.

Why Am I so Certain?

Well, back pain, especially lower back pain, is one of the most widespread conditions in the world.

Research show that more than 80 percent of U.S. adults experience back pain to some degree throughout their lives.

In fact, according to recent surveys, $50 billion is spent each year in the U.S. alone to deal with back pain issues.

Thats why dear reader, I decided today to share with you some of my best tips and guidelines on treating and preventing back pain while running.

So, are you ready?

Im not a medical doctor.

Thus, my advice should not be considered as such.

All Im sharing is the result of my own experience and research on the topic.

Hence, feel free to consult your doctor before you put into action any of the tips below.

Or, at least do your own research.

Youve been warned now lets proceed.

What Should I Know About Back Pain

Back pain is a very common problem and will affect many of us at some point during our lives.

The good news is that in most cases it isnt a serious problem, and it might just be caused by a simple strain to a muscle or ligament.

As far as possible, its best to continue with your normal everyday activities as soon as you can and to keep moving.

Being active and exercising wont make your back pain worse, even if you have a bit of pain and discomfort at first. Staying active will help you get better. Taking painkillers can help you do this.

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Muscle Sprains/strains And Overuse Injuries

Muscle sprain and strains are common in athletes involved in strength training. Cross-training is a hectic type of sports training readily adopted by enthusiastic runners.

Excessive exercise, however, can be troublesome for athletes. Too much stretching can lead to the development of:

  • Muscle spasms

A study pointed out paraspinous muscle spasms to be the cause of low back pain and highlighted the importance of early treatment.

Another reason for low back pain in running is an overuse injury. Overuse and running injuries are common in those putting carry excessive weights on the back while running. These injuries

Develop Core Strength With A Hollow Body Hold

Lower Back Pain After Running

This drill will put another variation on that engagement test. The purpose of this drill is to turn on those deep abdominal muscles, which support and protect your spine from defaulting to a dangerous position. Additionally, the extra help from your core will take some of the load off the lower back muscles, which, if left to absorb the impact of running on its own, can easily lead to repetitive stress and injury.

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Lift your legs up to create a table top position, both legs bent at a 90 degree angle,
  • Knees should be directly over the hips and your head is resting on the ground.
  • The low back should be pressed securely into the ground. You shouldnt be able to fit your hand between your lower back and the ground.

Next youll add some challenge to the position and really test your core engagement.

  • Peel the head and shoulders off the ground, keeping arms into your sides but lifted 2 inches off the ground, palms up.
  • You can raise the arms above your hips, perpendicular to the ground.
  • Try extending one leg, then both legs.
  • Play with variations of just legs extended, or one arm and opposite leg, etc.
  • Notice how the different variations affect the demand on your core, just as when you change position while running.

The only rule is that your low back MUST, MUST, MUST stay glued to the ground! This will keep your lower back safe and stable by avoiding hyperextension and compression in the spine.

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Causes Of Low Back Pain

For a detailed explanation of causes of Low Back Pain see our detailed article

Causes and treatment of Upper, Mid and Low Back Pain

There are lots of causes of Low Back pain and it is a frequent complaint we hear from Runners.

But what you have to ask is?

Did the Back pain come before the running or Is it the Running that is causing the Low Back Pain?

Running can actually be a cause of Low Back Pain and Back Pain can be made easier with running!

Confusing right?

Strengthen The Core To Beat Lower Back Pain When Running

One common culprit of low back pain is weakness through the core muscles, more specifically the deep stabilizer muscles. These muscles are responsible for keeping us upright and balanced with minimal rotation side-to-side or back-and-forth, and have attachment points throughout the spine and pelvis. A strong core also helps us absorb the impact of our daily activities and running in particular. As thousands of steps build up throughout a run, a strong core will provide shock absorption for your body.

Less shock absorption isnt the only downside of a week core. Your posture will also likely be affected. When the core is weak people tend to default to an overextended, mildly arched low back since those stabilizing muscles are disengaged. Not only does this lead to instability throughout your body, it also hinders your ability to engage your glutes. These muscle powerhouses are particularly important to all athletes and runners. Strengthening the core and correcting this arch to find a more neutral spine position is critical to keep running long-term and injury-free.

Lets experiment with spinal positioning and how it affects your glute and core engagement to get a better understanding of how to prevent lower back pain when running

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Lower Back Pain When Running How To Fix It

Lower back pain is a frustrating and all too common issue amongst runners. If youve been dealing with some discomfort in your back during your runs, youre not alone, and thankfully its probably possible to fix this problem at home without any expensive trips to the doctors office! Today well explain what causes lower back pain when running and show you a few simple exercises that can help you fix it.

Dont Ignore Your Lower Back Pain When Running

Low Back Pain? Fix Lower Back Pain from Running

In the vast majority of cases, this type of lower back pain isnt something you simply have to accept and put-up with. An appropriate rehab and strengthening plan, alongside your running, will help you run pain-free.

I previously stated that there are many different types and causes of back pain in runners. Not all of the exercises above will be appropriate in every case.

Please do seek the help of a good physio or doctor to get specific advice for your injury.

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Hamstring Injury As A Cause Of Lower Back Pain When Running

Hamstring injury mostly causes pain in the posterior knee, however, the trica of muscles forming the hamstring can lead to a belt-line like feel in the back.

Research shows that individuals having chronic low back pain have reduced flexibility of hamstrings indicating that hamstring strength is good for back muscle strength.

It is important to keep your glutes and hamstrings strong to keep backache at bay.

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What About The Role Of Core Strength & Stability In Running With Back Pain

Firstly we need to define what is meant by core strength and core stability.

There are many definitions out there for these generic terms, many of which speak of providing stability to the lumbar spine through strengthening the deep and superficial abdominal muscles.

Consider the fact that the bony and ligamentous architecture of the lumbar spinal segments gives them a good level of inherent stability

If your back pain stems from having truly unstable spinal vertebrae, being able to run is probably the least of your problems.

What we should instead be considering in terms of core strength and stability is this:

The ability to maintain good pelvic posture throughout the functional movements for our sport

Strength, stability and mobility, all in the right areas will allow your core to maintain a neutral lumbro-pelvic posture.

Free Workouts

in addition, having adequate thoracic motion is going to also be a factor in enabling you to be more effective in keeping the lumbar spine in a neutral position through the motion of running.

While typical core activities such as floor-based pilates will be great for getting a feel for the activation of the correct core muscle groups, the real focus for a runner should be to train these muscles to provide pelvic control through functional ranges of motion in load-bearing positions.

In terms of load-bearing exercises, Im a big fan of various plan variations when it comes to building core strength in runners:

Improve Your Spinal Stiffness And Flexibility

How to Prevent Lower Back Pain When Running

Stiffness that runs through the spine can also have an impact on low back pain in running. We’ve discussed why earlier in the article, so perhaps you need to consider doing some yoga style exercises or simple stretches to ease the back pain and reduce the overall stiffness of the spine.

Similarly, poor flexibility of soft tissues can have a negative impact on low back pain, so when you’re stretching in order to ease spine stiffness you can’t help but also be stretching soft tissues such as muscles, ligaments and tendons. So a good stretching regime can also help to ease off stiffness that you may have in the spine the Hips the pelvis and the lower limbs.

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What To Consider If You Suffer Lower Back Pain When Running

It does not matter whether you want to be fit and healthy or change your body you expect a positive result when you start any exercise program. This can mean that you automatically assume that the exercise will not have any negative consequences.

While no one starts exercising to injure themselves, it is, unfortunately, not enough to prevent injuries from happening.

In fact, when starting any exercise program, you are at risk of developing a physical problem if: 1) it is not performed adequately, 2) you overdo it, or 3) you have an underlying condition.

With running, it is no different. Up to 85%¹ of runners have at least one running-related injury each year. In this context, you may experience low back pain.

Understanding why and what to expect from this condition, you can avoid it or be more prepared to tackle it.

Read on to discover how to prevent lower back pain when running and understand why it might happen.

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Do You Suffer From Lower Back Pain While Running

Lower back pain is a frustrating problem that affects many runners.

While active adults are thought to be less likely to suffer from chronic lower back pain, runners like you and I still often complain of lower back pain when running, or even after running.

In fact, the repetitive nature of running gait can greatly amplify the cumulative effects of existing soft tissue imbalances, movement dysfunctions or structural asymmetries which can lead to back pain.

Whether caused, by a structural asymmetry movement dysfunction , or soft tissue imbalances around the hips lower back pain while running can be both incredibly frustrating and debilitating.

In this article, Im going to explore four of the most common reasons why some people experience lower back pain from running and look at some simple exercises you can use to fix the underlying causes

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Chose The Right Shoes

It is the first thing you want to look at is your shoes. Most people make the mistake of wearing the wrong kind of shoe. I know I have made the same mistake. I was running for miles on a trail in the hills of East Tennessee one day when I tweaked my back. I immediately thought my shoes were not going to hold up to the terrain, so I pulled off of the trail and went to the emergency room of a local hospital. Luckily they diagnosed me with spondylosis, which is an early stage of arthritis caused by years of pulling my back in different ways.

Why Does My Lower Back Hurt When Running

5 Tips to Stop Lower Back Pain Running/Walking on Treadmill

When it comes to your lower back, leg and core strength, flexibility, and coordination all play an important role:

  • Your core muscles have to work hard to support your spine and lower back.
  • When running, your core, hips, glutes, and hamstrings have to join forces to keep you stable.

What happens when one muscle or a group of muscles become fatigued?

  • Your lower back has to work harder to keep you upright and on your feet, which can cause pain, or worst case scenario injury.

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Why Does Your Lower Back Hurt When You Run

Pain in your lower back while several things can cause running. Lower back pain can be due to muscular imbalances, not strengthening any pulling and pushing movements, and not strengthening your core. And these are just a few of the reasons.Another reason could be that your trunk muscles may not be strong enough yet to support the strain of running especially while running at higher intensities. Muscles that can impact your lower back and cause pain include:


Your back muscles support upper body muscle groups, such as your deltoids, your traps, and even your spine. As you become fatigued the farther you run, your lower back begins to work more than it should since the surrounding muscles are weak.

Weak muscles can increase your risk of getting injured. Its essential to incorporate strength training into your running program 2-3x/week to optimize your runs. Including your strength-training routine 4-6 hours after your run on the same day will help you work on your running performance.

Performing strength training before your runs could make you bulk, making it harder for you to run farther. Since your body needs more oxygen and energy, the more mass you have on your body, its harder to run farther and faster with more muscle mass from this type of training. Lets sway away from that!

Take Breaks When Using The Incline

If youre experiencing chronic muscular tension, your body will get tired at some point during the incline cardio workout. Step out of the treadmill for a few seconds to catch your breath, take a sip of water, check-in with your body and posture, then step back in to continue.

Youll give your body a quick break to restore and recover. Implementing these short breaks has helped me get effective cardio sessions without pushing through any discomfort or tension.

The incline is more challenging for your body. It can trigger sciatica and lower back pain.

Keeping your back as straight as possible will reduce spinal compression, especially at an incline.

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What Can You Do To Prevent Back Pain When Running

To prevent back pain when running, the best thing you can do is to work on your strength and flexibility.

Expert tip:

You need a strong core to support your spinal muscles, and strong, flexible legs to hold the body upright and stable while you run.

This is why cross-training incorporating strengthening movements into your running routine is so important! If you want to run for a long time, you have to protect your body by strengthening the muscles that keep your body moving and upright its as simple as that.

Runners: How To Prevent Low Back Pain

Lower Back Pain After Running

Running puts a high level of repetitive stress on the back, and for those with lower back problems it is particularly important to take measures to reduce the strain on the lower back.

In general, the following tips are advisable for runners, especially for those who are susceptible to low back pain or leg pain/sciatica:

  • Do a thorough warm-up prior to beginning a run
  • Stretch the hamstrings twice daily to minimize stress across the low back
  • Muscle toning and strength training are also important, particularly with the core muscles of the back
  • Cross training is useful, so as not to get into an overuse syndrome
  • Wear comfortable, supportive shoes

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  • Try to run on a forgiving surface if possible, such as a rubber track, and try to avoid running on cement

It is important that back pain patients take note of any back symptoms that perhaps are being exacerbated by a particular activity. If running consistently brings on back pain or leg pain symptoms, an evaluation with a spine specialist, including X-rays and perhaps an MRI, can be useful to determine the source of that pain.

Again, muscular sprains and strains tend to be short-lived and respond well to self-care measures, such as heat, stretching, and an anti-inflammatory medication . If the pain does not respond to these measures, there may be a more structural problem that requires medical treatment.

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