5 Ways Runners Can Help Prevent Back Pain

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: April 20, 2020

Spinal Instability

Running is a great way to help keep your whole body healthy, but can also cause problems if we’re not careful. Most people think that lower body injuries are what plague most runners, and while foot and ankle injuries are common, another area of the body that can develop an acute or chronic injury from running is your spine. Below, we take a closer look at why running can be stressful on your spine and we share five tips to help prevent spine pain if you’re an amateur or regular runner.

How To Prevent Back Pain As A Runner

Here are five things you can do as a runner to help prevent and treat back pain.

  1. Don’t Overdo It – Whether you’re training for a marathon or simply looking to increase your mileage, make sure you slowly increase your pace, intensity or distance over time. Don’t try to double your distance or run five miles seven days in a row, because odds are you’ll overstress your body. Your spine helps to displace stress with each step you take, so if you’re greatly increasing your mileage, your spine can become overwhelmed by this increase in stress.
  2. Check Your Posture – We often tell people to be mindful of their posture when they are on the couch or behind the wheel, as poor posture when seated can do a number on your lumbar spine, but having a good spinal position is also important when you run. If you’re leaning forward too much, your neck is going to be overworked during these runs, and if you’re too upright, you may be landing harder on your heels, and this stress will be absorbed by your spine. Keep your head above your shoulders and try to find a natural and comfortable running position. If you feel yourself getting tired and your posture is slipping, cut the run short, because pushing through it can cause problems for your spine.
  3. Supportive Shoes – Make sure that your running shoes are performing the job they were designed to do. Your shoes need to provide comfort and support for your feet, which will also help your spine. However, don’t just opt for the thickest sole possible, because research has shown that when shoe padding is extra thick, people land harder on their feet, and vice versa. You’ll want some padding protection, but still focus on landing light on your feet.
  4. Core Work – Your core is incredibly important in terms of helping support your upper body when you run, and it also helps to support your spine. However, it doesn’t really get strengthened that well by running, so you need to work in some cross training or core-specific exercises to help develop these key muscle groups. Do some core work on your non-running days, and you’ll notice that you won’t tire as easily during your runs, and you’ll reduce your risk of a back injury.
  5. Stretching – Finally, make sure you take time to stretch before and after a run. You’re probably focused on warming up your hamstrings, glutes and calf muscles, but don’t ignore your spine. Do some trunk twists and help ready your spine for the physical task ahead so it’s not overloaded by a fast increase in activity. Stretching after a run can help prevent spinal muscle spasms as well.

If you’re a runner and you need help with a spine issue, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.

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