When you get lower back pain running, like any injury, it can put a serious dent in your progress. Needless to say I am not a doctor, but I can most definitely empathise with lower back pain sufferers. After endless days of crawling out of bed, a trip to my own physician had me down as having a thinning disc in my back.
Though most certainly not life threatening, this condition is non-treatable (according to two doctors). It’s also the most likely suspect anytime I get lower back pain running. So this article is a compilation of the stuff I’ve learned from my personal pursuit for a more comfortable running life.
What to do when you get lower back pain running: Tip 1
Go to your doctor!!!!!!! There’s a lot of talk about when and when not to go to the doctor.
When you have any ongoing pain or discomfort, most definitely visit a professional (and a second opinion is always good). Even a comforting “there’s nothing seriously wrong” can work wonders as a placebo effect. On the flip side, the sooner you go to the doctor, the quicker you can start fixing the problem.
Tip 2: Don’t take the strain
One common cause of lower back pain can be a muscle strain. Sean McCance MD at Spine-health.com recommends these simple solutions to back muscle strain:
- A short period of rest (one or two days) if the pain is severe
- Gentle stretching
- Ice or cold packs, applied for 10 to 20 minutes at a time
- Heat therapy or moist heat
- Over the counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. ibuprofen, naprosyn)
Tip 3: Get hip to the problem and check your form
A key part of running is of course the hips and how they control and react and respond to your feet striking the ground as you run. If something is amiss with how your body does this then running is only going to cause problems in the long run.
There’s plenty of advice out there but not all of it is good.
In my case I made the mistake of concentrating too much on posture and ended up running in a very rigid way. Of course this just made things worse.
That’s why it’s always better to look at several alternatives before deciding on one “solution”. Personally, the advice at the balanced runner made more sense to me but it may be different for you.
Seek expert advice, and then seek out some more. Try out a few and your body will soon tell you if you are on the right lines or not.
Tip 4: It could be your feet
The beauty of running is you can make it as low tech as you like (you can also go Garmin crazy of course). One piece of equipment that you should NOT skimp on though is your running shoes.
We all have a unique way of walking and running so we need shoes to best fit this.
Problems such as over or under pronation (literally rolling our feet either inwards or outwards as we walk/run) can trigger problems when we run.
The best way to find the best match for your feet is to go to an expert. You can then get the best match for your feet.
Tip 5: Don’t Run For the Hills
Some common problems that cause back pain are exacerbated by the extra effort required to scale inclines (hills/slopes). Try tailoring your run route to avoid extreme climbs in order to give your body (and in particular your back) an extra rest.
Don’t give up
Unless a medical expert says “don’t run!” then you shouldn’t let persistent lower back pain distract you from doing the activity you love.
There are a ton of options out there for you to obtain a level of comfort that’ll allow you to keep on the road and trails.