OC Sports & Rehab

Do you suffer from back pain when you go running? It seems strange to even ask such a question. Who would run with back pain, most people would think? Runners, on the other hand, understand. People who enjoy running will run despite back pain, hip pain, or knee pain, it makes no difference, they simply want to run. And most runners (well, not just runners) do not seek treatment for back pain because they do not want to be told not to run. They are afraid that the diagnosis will be serious, necessitating medications, injections, or even surgery, and that they will be told not to run.

What you can do for back pain when you run

  1. Don’t stop running!
    This is not to say that you should avoid pain at all costs. This means addressing the pain, determining the source of the pain, and treating it. Continue to run, but address the source of your pain and resolve it.
  2. Identify the source of the pain.
    The majority of back pain caused by running does not begin as back pain. There is frequently a sore knee, ankle problem, or hip pain that occurs days, months, or years earlier, and the body compensates with the low back because that pain was never addressed. That is why many treatments fail and become discouraging, because successful treatment requires determining all possible causes of the back pain, which is usually in response to something else hurting.
  3. Poor running form
    This is the most common cause of back pain when running. And it is the most difficult to repair. Just reading that makes you want to change your running form. That is NOT the case. You have muscles of different lengths and strengths. You can’t just switch from being a heel striker to a mid foot striker and not get hurt. Your muscles aren’t prepared for it. Changing your running form means altering the way your muscles interact. This is a process, not an overnight fix, but if done correctly and with time investment, it can allow you to run pain-free. If you are a heel striker, for example, you are literally putting the brakes on every time your foot hits the ground. This puts a lot of strain on the hamstrings, which affect the low back and could cause you a lot of pain.
  4. Run by yourself
    The least popular piece of advice. However, when you run with someone, your running mechanics change. This change in running mechanics has an impact on your muscles. Even running with someone 5 seconds slower or faster can cause you to change your running style, how you use your muscles, and cause your back to react differently, causing pain. Try running the same distance as someone else, but keep your own pace and look for them at the finish line.
  5. Work on your core
    The majority of runners despise strength training. This is not a secret, and it is not done because they do not want to go to the gym and work out. But when you don’t have strong abdominals, your spine is left to flop around, with no support. As a result of the absence of abdominals to support the spine, the lower back muscles begin to work overtime to help stabilize the spine, resulting in overuse and pain.
  6. Focus on Recovery
    After a long run, recovery does not imply sitting on the couch. You must actively recover. Active recovery is made possible by foam rolling. The best way to recover is to spend 10 minutes per day, divided into 1 minute segments and repeated 10 times throughout the day.

Give us a call 949.716.5050 for our physical therapy services. We are also run mechanics experts!