Lower Back Pain When Running: 5 Tips to Get Back in the Race
Updated April 14, 2023.
After looking forward to running during the week, the last thing you want is lower back pain. Unfortunately, it’s an issue that many runners battle with, and for various reasons. Running is good for building cardiopulmonary endurance so you don’t fatigue easily, but it takes a toll on your spine.
Lower back pain when running may be due to improper technique, poor footwear, muscle strain, repetitive stress, structural malalignment causing pelvic drop or hip extension, and several other causes. Without proper management, it can send you off track and keep you away from what you love doing.
Whatever the cause, there are easy ways you can alleviate lower back pain when running. Here are 5 tips to get you back in the race pain-free.
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1. Take Time to Warm Up
A warm-up routine involves low-intensity exercises done to ready your muscles, raise your metabolism, improve your cardio, improve joint load distribution, and reduce the risk of injury. Always include a warm-up program before your race.
To warm up before running, you should target the same muscle groups you will use during the race. You can do this through dynamic stretches, taking a brisk walk, and walking lunges. You can also stretch your muscles or jog at a slow pace to prime them for greater action.
Again, once you are done running, ensure you cool down. The cool-down phase allows you to transition smoothly from the running state to a state of res It and reduces your risk of injury.
2. Improve Your Core Strength
There is more to strengthening your core than building six-pack abs. Strong abdominal muscles can prevent back pain as they help you maintain a good posture, balance, and limit awkward movements. They also aid in force transmission through the muscles instead of the spine, reducing the risk of tension in the lower back that can lead to pain.
Before running and at regular sessions throughout the week, you can focus your exercises on the abs and lower trunk muscles. Examples of exercises for the abdominals include elbow plank, abdominal crunch, push-up, Russian twist, and panther.
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3. Adjust Your Running Form
Do everything to run with a proper technique. A bad running technique can also contribute to lower back pain. Ideally, you should consider the following when running:
- While you run, keep your eyes and chest forward. Avoid staring at your shoes; instead, keep your eyes about 10-20 feet forward.
- Keep your shoulders level and avoid slouching.
- Keep your arms free at your side, using a relaxed arm swing.
- While you run, avoid striking the floor with your heels. Instead, aim to strike the floor with your midfoot.
- Use the appropriate running shoe for your running terrain. Poor support can throw you off balance and affect how force is transmitted through your spine, predisposing you to back pain and injury.
4. Avoid Overtraining and Build Up Slowly
No matter your running level, ensure you stay within your limits and avoid overtraining. Pushing yourself beyond your limits can cause strain on your ligaments and muscles, leading to adverse forces that cause severe lower back pain when running.
A practical way to do this is to space your running, going no more than four times a week. Ensure you rest adequately in between your running days. Also, you should avoid overexerting your muscles; do not increase your speed and distance simultaneously, as this can place undue pressure on you. Instead, aim for progressive overload where you improve your running performance slowly over time.
5. Try Supplements
Several supplements can help prevent or relieve lower back pain so you can run without pain. These supplements provide a natural alternative to treating back pain with analgesics and often contain the following elements: Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin, CBD Oil, and others.
Lower Back Pain When Running Should Not Persist
Exercise may be effective at treating lower back pain, but be careful before you start any exercise regimen as you open yourself up to injury without the proper preparation. While some muscle soreness is normal when you go from long periods of being sedentary to exercising, it shouldn't incapacitate you or persist for more than a few days. Ensure you consult a doctor or physiotherapist before attempting any stretches or exercises if you experience lower back pain when running.