Prevent back pain from affecting your running routine


Back pain is enough of a reason to throw people off of their A-game, whether they’re roaming around the office or working up a sweat in the gym. But when it comes to runners, too much back pain will severely limit your physical activity, and not taking preventive measures outside of your workout can only prolong periods of immobility. Back pain relief comes in many forms, from the posture you commonly assume at work to switching over to a more healthy diet. If you’re letting discomfort in your back take you away from your running routine, here are a few tips to prevent and manage pain so you can get back out on the track in no time:

Know the causes

There are many ways you can start to experience discomfort in your back, and knowing these potential triggers is the first step toward preventing them from affecting your athletic workout. According to the National Institutes of Health, the most typical cause of back pain is when muscle spasms occur. Muscle spasms are always difficult to predict, and can be triggered by everything from a car accident to bending over to tie your shoe. This is why stretching prior to and after exercising is an essential part of the athletic recovery process, because it loosens up your back muscles so experiencing spasms is less likely.

There are also plenty of other unforeseen lifestyle factors that also play a role in how often you experience back pain. The connection between being overweight and a poor diet are obvious, but both of these can be tied to back pain as well. Excess weight only adds stress to your back and spinal area, which means that possible discomfort increases. Having poor posture is another overlooked cause of back pain, especially for people who have a job that requires long hours spent seated typing on a computer screen. The Mayo Clinic offers plenty of posture suggestions that may help you avoid added back pain in the long run.

Don’t dismiss pain

It may seem like shrugging off a little pain at first isn’t a big deal, but if ignoring pain is becoming a routine element of your running regimen, it’s time to listen to your body. The National Institutes of Health insists on stopping typical physical activity the moment you begin feeling back pain for at least a couple of days. This gives your body a chance to relax and swelling will begin to reduce in the painful area after a decent duration of monitored mobility. Don’t be afraid to ice areas of pain in the back, followed by a period of heating the sore area. The NIH also suggests sleeping in a curled-up fetal position with a pillow between your legs whenever you’re going through periods of back pain.

Time for new shoes?

People often take for granted the role that

their shoes play in when it comes to avoiding back pain. Your feet are essentially the foundation for your body during exercise, and if your shoes aren’t providing them with the proper support they need, your back may suffer as a consequence. Dr. John M.Giurini, a researcher at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, states that in many back pain cases, the shoes are the primary culprit.

“Part of any evaluation for low back pain should be to look at the structures below, including the feet,” Giurini said in a statement. “If a person is having low back pain and the physician can’t find a cause within the back itself, we need to look at the foot and how it functions in gait and how the entire lower extremity is aligned. In some cases, more supportive shoes or a shoe insert may help solve the problem.”

Stretch it out

There are a wide variety of stretches and exercises that are specifically meant to prevent back pain from occurring in the future. According to, stretching out your hamstrings twice a day is a quick and easy way to help avoid discomfort in your back during exercise. The Mayo Clinic suggests performing this simple stretching formation in the morning and at night as a sufficient means for preventing back pain:

  • On the floor, start lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the surface.
  • Slowly pull up one knee at a time, using both hands and bringing the knee all the way to your chest.
  • Hold it for anywhere between 15 and 30 seconds, then repeat the action with your other knee.
  • You can also pull up both knees at the same time.

Get a massage

What a relief it is knowing that the soothing comfort of a massage can also do wonders for eliminating back pain from your life. If discomfort in your back has been bothering you for several weeks, the NIH suggests that massage therapy may be a beneficial tool for you to utilize. In fact, one study carried out by researchers with the Cochrane Collaboration suggests that massage therapy, when combined with frequent stretching and exercise, can be a beneficial resource for eliminating chronic back pain, which is when discomfort lasts for more than 12 weeks.

Jill Lohmann is a Director of Operations for Accelerated Rehabilitation Centers and a certified physical therapist. Accelerated Rehabilitation Centers is a physical therapist owned and operated rehabilitation company with a network of 170 outpatient rehabilitation centers located throughout the Midwest, Arizona and Georgia.


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