Lower Back Pain and Running
Lower back pain while running or after running is quite common and experienced by most people that begin a running regime. The cause of this pain is often attributed to running with the recommendation to stop running the proposed solution. This does not have to be the case as most often the pain experienced is caused by other factors that can be addressed.
Watch your Posture
The body has a natural position that enhances its fluid movements and supports the lower back. A focus on the correct posture is an effective strategy in avoiding lower back pain while running. The most effective posture is said to be a neutral spine. The neutral spine remains in line without either hip pushing forward or the upper back curling. Using a mirror to define the neutral spine and focusing attention on maintaining this posture while in a standing position could eliminate lower back pain while running.
Stretching the muscle groups prior to working out has been a constant suggestion for decades. The ability to loosen the muscles has been shown to reduce injuries and increase recovery time between exercise sessions. On the contrary, the most common stretches have now been deemed to cause stress on the lower back. The key to stretching is to utilize exercises that don’t put strain on the back. Good stretching exercises may include:
- While lying face up on the floor, with your knees bent and heels flat on the floor; bring each knee up to the chest and hold for a short length of time. Do one knee at a time and hold for around 20 seconds.
- Another exercise which is often recommended by chiropractors is to lie down face up, with your knees bent and heels flat on the floor (same as last exercise); your hands must be at your sides, then try and push the small of your back to the floor.
- Whilst standing with your feet shoulder width apart and elbows raised at shoulder height, twist your torso from left to right gently.
A strong core increases stability in the body that is essential for those who are currently experiencing lower back pain while running. By having strong abdominals, runners are more likely to have a more correct posture and put less strain on the spine and supporting muscles. In addition to regular abdominal exercises, consider adding the plank and variations of the exercises into your training routine.
The impact of the road and trails on the avid runner can be reduced by choosing shoes that are specifically designed for the purpose. Runners should be light and have a level of stability that you are comfortable with. Try to determine your foot type; for instance if you have a low arch choose runners with motion control, and if you have a high arch choose cushioned running shoes. Also consider your gait as the type of shoe will change with each. Lastly, make sure to wear your running socks when trying on the show for an accurate assessment. A professional sports store should be able to help you choose the best runners for you.
Most runners have heard the expression Heel-toe-heel-toe and this remains the correct strike form for every runner. Often when tired, changing terrain or elevation, a runner will change their stride to an ineffective and potentially pain causing landing. It is important to practice consistent stride and foot placement to avoid injury in regards to lower back pain as well as shin splints and sciatica problems.
The body is designed to work synergistically in all activities. However, there are individual causes of lower back pain while running. The best approach is to consider all elements that play a part in the action to avoid further injury.