Lower Back Pain—How To Prevent Back Injuries While Running
A guest post by Allison Felsenthal
Individuals who run are aware of the injuries that can arise from poor running form. Regardless of the distance, you’re training for.
Whether you’re preparing for a 5K or an ultra marathon, it’s essential to mobilize and strengthen the muscles that running doesn’t do alone with proper mobility and strength-training routine.
Otherwise, you risk getting injured, which can take running away from you when you need it most!
If you feel something is hurting you while running, stop! Please don’t push it until it gets worse. Sometimes, it’s best to take two steps backward before taking one giant leap forward. I can speak firsthand.
Why does your lower back hurt when you run?
Pain in your lower back while several things can cause running. Lower back pain can be due to muscular imbalances, not strengthening any pulling and pushing movements, and not strengthening your core. And these are just a few of the reasons.
Another reason could be that your trunk muscles may not be strong enough yet to support the strain of running – especially while running at higher intensities. Muscles that can impact your lower back and cause pain include:
Your back muscles support upper body muscle groups, such as your deltoids, your traps, and even your spine. As you become fatigued the farther you run, your lower back begins to work more than it should since the surrounding muscles are weak.
Weak muscles can increase your risk of getting injured. It's essential to incorporate strength training into your running program 2-3x/week to optimize your runs. Including your strength-training routine 4-6 hours after your run on the same day will help you work on your running performance.
Performing strength training before your runs could make you bulk, making it harder for you to run farther. Since your body needs more oxygen and energy, the more mass you have on your body, it's harder to run farther and faster with more muscle mass from this type of training. Let's sway away from that!
How can you prevent lower back pain while running?
Mobility exercises for your ankles and calves will allow you to have the full range of motion in the joints that runners need to optimize running performance. Some activities you can do for mobility training are included in the YouTube video from my YouTube channel below:
Strength training your body in ways that running doesn’t will eliminate potential injuries and achieve your running goal. Suppose the cause of your lower back pain is muscle-related. In that case, the best thing you can do to prevent it from getting worse and alleviate symptoms is through mobility exercises and strength training.
By strengthening your core, hamstrings, hips, and other muscles, you can reduce lower back pain and prevent injuries. Four exercises that you can do for strength-training include:
Be sure to work with a running coach or a movement specialist while incorporating strength training and mobility training into your running program. If you’re experiencing any pain, please seek a DPT for guidance or your nearest Orthopedic Surgeon!
Improve Your Running Form
A factor that often gets overlooked is your running form. No runner’s running form is the same. Reducing the contact time with the ground will eliminate potential injuries.
Doing this will also help you optimize your running performance and perhaps make you a more efficient, confident runner! Having proper form decreases the stress on your knees, hips, ankles, and lower back.
A good rule of thumb is to use a metronome app while working on your running cadence (steps per minute) and shooting for a cadence between 170 and 190. If you’re far from this cadence goal, work your way up in increments.
For example, if you’re currently at 160 sam (steps per minute), work your way up to 165 and then so forth until you find a running cadence that works the best for you!