Lower Back Pain and Running

Introduction to Lower Back Pain and Running

Runners ultimately put enormous stress on the lower back. The constant pounding of the feet causing shock waves to be vibrated to the spine and hips.

General Causes of Lower Back Pain

Conditions such as flat feet can cause a mechanical imbalance which can ultimately result in back pain. A limb length discrepancy or even a pelvic imbalance can result in lower back pain. Other conditions such as spinal curvature and a degenerative disc between the vertebrae can lead to back pain.

Running Causes of Lower Back Pain

For runners, the major cause of back pain is a muscular strain. However, if you are in any doubt then it is advisable to visit your doctor to rule out any complications. Contributing running factors include weak abdominal and back muscles, tight hamstrings and more commonly a foot imbalance. Foot imbalance (over pronation) results is a weight imbalance which can ultimately result in lower back pain.

How Lower Back Pain affects your Running

You should continue to run with back pain if it does not make your back feel worse after a run. Sitting actually puts more stress on your back than running does. If running is not comfortable then you could try swimming, cycling or some other activity to keep fit and motivated. Walking is an excellent exercise to stay active during the healing process.

Treatment for Lower Back Pain

For immediate relief you should cut back on your mileage and uphill running. It is common for cross country runners to experience lower back pain. The biomechanics of running up hills and at unusual angles leads to postural changes which demands greater stress on your back muscles. Many runners find that damp heat, contrast hot baths, steam room and heat rubs are beneficial to lower back pain. If you have a serious back complaint such as disc deterioration than surgery may be necessary. You may need to visit a chiropractor to align your spine.

Many runners find that by changing their running shoes and using sports orthotics/ Insoles can have a positive effect on lower back pain.




Back Strengthening Exercises

Each exercise should be performed 5 - 10 times each, increasing by 2 - 3 repetitions per day, with a maximum of 50 each per day. If performed properly, these exercises will strengthen core muscle strength. They should be performed in conjunction with proper back and lower extremity flexibility training.

These strengthening exercises are designed for multiple types of back injuries. Remember to consult you physician to determine which exercises are most appropriate for your specific condition. Discontinue any exercise that worsens your pain.


Abdominal Crunch

Wall Squats

Thoracic Extension