For runners, lower back pain can be one of the most common difficulties to experience.
It's something runners don't want to go through and we understand it can be challenging to stay motivated with training when you're suffering from back pain that's preventing you from hitting your personal bests or stopping you from training completely.
However, knowing some of the causes of lower back pain in runners, as well as how to fix it, can help put you on the path toward more successful and enjoyable running experiences.
In this blog post, we'll explore some of the common sources behind lower back pain in runners, explore why it happens and give you tips for fixing your discomfort so you can run without pain or risk of further injury.
Improper Form When Running
Proper form is the key to success and lower back pain relief for any runner.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced pro, your lower back can suffer from improper lower body form during a run.
Poor posture, rotation, and lack of supportive muscles are some of the leading causes of lower back pain in runners.
This is because the spine and lower back muscles have to brace every step, leading to fatigue and strain if they’re not supported correctly by other muscles in the body.
How To Fix It
The first step to fixing your running form is to pay attention to your posture.
Keep your lower body upright and keep your torso and hips in alignment. You should also relax your shoulders and try to keep your feet parallel to each other throughout the length of your running stride.
You may also want to consider the length of your stride. Your feet should fall directly beneath your body as you take each stride rather than extending too far forward.
If you've been running with an incorrect form for a long time, it may take a little time to adjust to your new running posture but it will benefit you in the future when you don't suffer from lower back pain anymore!
Poor core strength is one of the biggest culprits that cause lower back pain in runners.
Your lower back is vulnerable to strain because it has to take the weight of each running stride taken.
A weak core could mean you pull a muscle or develop constant pain in your lower back causing you unnecessary pain and you may have to take an extended break from training for your muscles to heal.
How To Fix It
Runners should consider including a regimen of strengthening exercises that focus on their core muscles.
Popular options such as planks, bridges, and bird dogs can help build strength and stability to help reduce pain. Additionally, focusing on lower body exercises such as single-leg deadlifts, hip thrusters, and side lunges will also engage your lower back muscles.
These exercises are an effective way to prevent lower back pain in runners because they target weak core muscles, helping you maintain stability and better form while running.
Improperly fitted or worn-out shoes can cause the lower back muscles to work harder and become strained, leading to lower back pain.
Poorly fitting or lower-quality running shoes can throw off the balance and alignment of your lower body, creating excess strain on the lower back muscles.
In addition, running in shoes that do not provide enough support can lead to shock waves traveling up through your lower body, which put extra strain on the lower back area.
How To Fix It
It’s important for runners to select proper footwear for their feet.
Runners should be sure to pick a technical running shoe designed specifically to help absorb impact while providing optimal stability and cushioning around the arch and lower back area.
You should also be aware that shoes wear out over time, so you should replace them at regular intervals in order to prevent lower back pain from developing.
Due to repetitive motion and strenuous activity, lower back muscles can become overused and cause strain, and decreased performance.
Overuse lower back injuries in runners can vary from a dull ache to intense pain, depending on how severely the lower back muscles and other ligaments have been overworked.
Most lower back problems are caused by sustaining an injury or pushing yourself too hard too soon, meaning it’s important for runners to take regular breaks from their training regimes and be aware of signs that their body is struggling.
How To Fix It
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to alleviate the strain caused by overuse and reduce discomfort.
Generally speaking, rest is key in helping muscles recover from overexertion. But this does not mean you have to stop all activity.
Taking short walks and using stretching exercises can help loosen up tight muscles as well as keep your body active even though you've taken a break from high-intensity running.
It's important to note that once you feel your injury is better, you should increase your intensity slowly after taking a break. If you jump back in where you left off, you could cause even more injury to your lower back.
How Physical Therapy Can Help Lower Back Pain Caused By Running
If you've been suffering from an annoying lower back injury for a while, you think you've tried all of the options available to you and it's not getting any better, physical therapy might be the best option for you.
Physical therapy can provide you with a long-term solution to your lower back pain so you can get back to your full running potential without lower back pain slowing you down.
We currently offer a free 30-minute performance analysis where you can ask our expert physical therapist any questions you may have and we can analyze your running performance.
To arrange your free 30-minute performance analysis, fill in our simple form or if you prefer to talk over the telephone call us at 516-387-0053.
Other Free Resources For Runners
If you don't feel you're quite ready to come into our North Massapequa NY clinic, we have even more free resources for runners.
Download Our Free Report - 5 Tips To Stay Out Running With Friends And Achieve Personal Bests
Read Our Blog - The Ins And Outs Of Dreaded Runners Knee
Read Our Blog - Overtraining Syndrome