Preventing Back Pain in Runners

Training for your next race? Dr. Taglio talks about preventing back pain along the way.FemaleRunnerCalifornia

Runners can be fairly susceptible to lower back pain--especially those who consistently train on hard surfaces (concrete/asphalt), have tight/weak leg muscles or weak abs. In addition, runners commonly have fallen arches in their feet, which can also be the culprit of back pain. De-conditioned feet can affect the entire chain, up through the legs, hips and back.MaleRunnerSoreBack

Tips for preventing back pain: 

  • Invest in the right shoes. Good shoes will help support and protect your spine, softening the impact of your feet hitting the ground. Spend some time talking with a shoe specialist at a store that specializes in running shoes to find the ones that are best for you.RunningShoes
  • Warm up properly to reduce your potential for injury.
  • Start slow if you haven’t been running and work up to doing more. Too much too soon will most definitely lead to injuries.
  • Vary your ground. Concrete and pavement are the hardest on your spine. If you can run on a rubber track, grass, trails and treadmills, you can soften the impact to your body.
  • Pay attention to your posture, form and stride. While running, keep your neck and shoulders loose and relaxed, your head up, back straight and elbows at 90 degrees. Pump your arms forward and back, instead of twisting the arms from side to side. Excessive trunk rotation can occur from an inefficient arm swing and put too much motion and stress in the lower back, resulting in pain, according to the National Institutes of Health.
  • Condition your feet: Walking around barefoot will strengthen your feet. Try picking up a pencil with your toes and repeat 20 times for strengthening your foot muscles.
  • Build a strong core to support your lower back. Weak abs strain hip muscles and put tension on the low back. Planks, back extensions, hip raises, supermans and cobra exercises are all great to implement. (Cal Fit's Pilates classes provide a great core workout).
  • Balance your leg muscles (front and back) to help prevent back pain. If any leg muscles are too tight or too weak, it will set your pelvis up for imbalances, which will affect your back. Hip flexors and quads tend to be overdeveloped in runners and glutes and hamstrings tend to be weaker. When hip flexors take over, the pelvis is pulled forward, causing excessive curvatures in additional strain to the spine and lower back. 
  • On the other hand, if your hamstrings are too tight, your pelvis will be pulled back, putting strain on the lumbar spine, and taxing your posture. 
  • Foam roll tight muscles to increase blood flow and release tightness - specifically hamstrings, Iliotibial bands, calves, piriformis, adductors and quadriceps.
  • Lastly, always listen to your body... it tells you things for a reason. If something hurts, don’t run through it. Take the time to find out what may be the cause of your pain. Running through pain may cause more damage in the long run.

Muscular sprains and strains tend to respond well to basic self-care (heat, stretching, massage, rest etc.). However, chronic back pain that does not respond to these approaches may warrant further investigation. If you are still having pain after implementing good habits and consistent strengthening/stretching, there may be underlying structural alignment issues.FemaleRunnerSoreBack

Our office at Taglio Chiropractic is always available to give advice, provide resources and implement gentle treatments to help get you back on track, and once again performing the activities you love that you love!

dr-taglioAs a wife and mother of two active little boys, Dr. Taglio understands that life is busy and can easily get out of balance. She knows how important healthy habits are in maintaining a healthy family. She is committed to addressing the whole body and takes a multi-pronged approach to improving the function of the nervous system, by removing nerve interference through chiropractic, addressing nutritional components and incorporating neuromuscular re-education to maintain spinal health and stability. She has made it her mission to help people not only feel great, but also help them reach their highest potential, in whatever their endeavors are. She has a love for children and their healing through chiropractic and nutrition.

 The opinions expressed here represent those of the author. California Family Fitness will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. Always consult your physician before beginning any nutrition or exercise program.