Prevea Health

Back pain and running


Back pain affects nearly 80 percent of all people at some point in their lives, and it can be both a mentally and physically affective condition. Distance running itself is physically and mentally demanding so running with back pain has potential to be problematic if not cared for properly.

Due to the repetitive stress of distance running, it is important to recognize your back pain and determine if it is a minor ache or if it could be a more serious injury. There are several conditions such as disk herniation, muscle strains, or bone-related injuries that can cause back pain. If your pain consists of sharp, shooting, burning, or tingling pain in the back, buttocks, or legs, you should schedule an appointment to see a health care provider.

Although it is common, there are steps you can take to help prevent and recover from back pain. Below are some tips on doing so:

Often times back pain occurs as a result of muscle imbalances causing postural and mechanical stress on the lower back. Hamstring, hip flexor and hip tightness are common areas that can affect your back. Foam rolling and stretching these muscles before and after runs is a measure that can be taken to help. Click here for some good stretches to perform before running.

Core strengthening
Just like muscle tightness or imbalances, proper core strength and control is an important component in any athletic activity. Core muscles such as your transverse abdominis help control your pelvis and lower back. Long periods of inadequate core control while participating in athletics can lead to injury over time. Click here for a few cores strengthening exercise that can be beneficial to athletes.

Proper footwear
Having properly fitting shoes that have adequate support for your foot type can play a role in your entire body’s biomechanics. Poor foot posture or inadequate support for your foot type can cause a kinetic chain of events resulting in problems such as back pain.

There are three basic arch types that require specific footwear:
  • High arch types do not collapse with weight bearing. Most of your weight is held on the outside of your feet. Wearing a neutral shoe that guides lateral pressure inward and cushions your arch is best.
  • Medium arch types tend to pronate (ankles roll inward). A stability shoe that has supportive midsole and arch supports will correct this.
  • Flat feet or no arches require a level 5 stability shoe or custom orthotic inserts to help support the middle of the foot to prevent over-pronation.