Tuesday, May 28, 2024 7 min read

Lower Back Pain When Running: What To Do

Bridget Reed

Lower Back Pain When Running: What To Do product
Lower Back Pain When Running: What To Do

Running is an exhilarating way to stay active and boost your mental and physical health, but lower back discomfort can throw a wrench into your routine. It's a common issue that has sidelined many runners, from beginners to seasoned pros. 


But don't let it discourage you. Understanding the root of the problem and knowing what to do can help you keep moving, stay strong, and enjoy your run.


In this article, we'll delve into the world of running and lower back discomfort. We'll break down the basics of why it happens, the anatomy of the lower back, and how it all ties together. We're here to help you navigate this challenge, ease the tension, and keep you on track.


Understanding the Anatomy of the Lower Back

The lower back, also known as the lumbar region, is a complex structure made up of five vertebrae (L1-L5) stacked on top of each other. They're supported by a network of muscles, tendons, and ligaments, all working together to provide stability and allow movement.


When you run, your lower back plays a crucial role. It acts as a shock absorber, reducing the impact of each step. It also helps maintain your posture, keeping you upright and balanced as you move. But when things go awry, such as muscle imbalances or poor running mechanics, the lower back can bear the brunt, leading to discomfort and tension.


Discomfort in the lower back while running can also be a sign of underlying issues. For instance, tight hip flexors or hamstrings can put extra strain on your lower back. Weak core muscles can also contribute, as they leave your lower back to pick up the slack when it comes to stabilizing your body.


How Can Running Impact the Back?

Running is an intense activity, and your lower back is right in the thick of it. With each stride, your lower back absorbs the impact, helps maintain balance, and supports your body's weight. It's a tough job, and when things go off track, discomfort can set in.


One of the common reasons for lower back discomfort when running is increased stress on the spine. This can happen if your running form isn't up to par or your core muscles aren't strong enough to share the load. Other factors, like tight muscles, especially in the hips and hamstrings, can also pull your lower back out of alignment, leading to discomfort.


Common Mistakes That Contribute to Lower Back Discomfort When Running

Let's take a closer look at some of the common mistakes that can contribute to lower back discomfort when running.


Incorrect Running Form

Your running form is like the blueprint for your run. It dictates how your body moves and how the impact of each step is distributed. 


If your form is off, it can put extra strain on your lower back. For example, leaning too far forward or backward can throw off your alignment and increase pressure on your lower back. The key is to keep your body upright and let your core do its job of keeping you stable.


Insufficient Warm-up and Cool-down Routines

Jumping straight into a run without a proper warm-up is like asking your muscles to run a marathon cold. It's a surefire way to increase your chances of discomfort. 


A good warm-up gets your blood flowing and loosens up your muscles, preparing them for the workout ahead. Similarly, cooling down after a run helps ease your body back into its normal state, reducing the risk of muscle stiffness and tension.


Overtraining or Increasing Mileage Too Quickly

Running is great, but more isn't always better. Overdoing it or ramping up your mileage too quickly can lead to overuse injuries, including discomfort in the lower back. 


Progression is key in running, but it's important to give your body time to adapt. If you increase your mileage or intensity too quickly, your lower back may not be able to keep up, leading to undue stress and tension.


Wearing Inappropriate Running Shoes

Your running shoes are more than just a fashion statement. They're your first line of defense against the impact of running. Wearing the wrong shoes can lead to a host of problems, including lower back discomfort. 


Shoes that don't provide enough support or cushioning can increase the shock your lower back has to absorb. Similarly, shoes that aren't the right fit can alter your running mechanics, putting extra strain on your lower back. Remember, your shoes should work with you, not against you.


Practical Tips To Prevent Lower Back Discomfort When Running

Now that we've got a handle on the common mistakes, let's flip the script and look at some practical ways to prevent lower back discomfort when running.


Practice Proper Running Form

Running with proper form is like having a solid foundation for a house. It sets the stage for everything else. A good running form is about keeping your body relaxed but aligned, your core engaged, and your strides smooth. 


This balance reduces the strain on your lower back, helping to prevent discomfort. To achieve this, keep your body upright, lean slightly forward from the ankles, and let your feet land directly under your body. Remember, a good running form is a continuous process, not a one-time fix.


The Role of Core Strength

Your core is your body's powerhouse. It's the bridge between your upper and lower body, and it plays a crucial role in running. A strong core stabilizes your body, maintains your balance, and reduces the load on your lower back. 


To improve your core strength, incorporate exercises like planks, bridges, and leg raises into your routine. And don't forget to engage your core while running. It's like having an internal support system for your lower back.


Importance of a Good Warm-up and Cool-down Routine

Warming up before a run and cooling down afterward is like bookending your workout with care. A good warm-up prepares your body for the activity ahead, while a cool-down helps return your body to its normal state. 


Both are essential for preventing lower back discomfort. Incorporate dynamic stretches like leg swings, lunges, and torso twists into your warm-up and static stretches, like hamstring and lower back stretches, into your cool-down.


Gradual Increase in Running Intensity and Mileage

Patience is key when it comes to running. Increasing your intensity or mileage too quickly is a recipe for discomfort. The trick is to progress gradually, giving your body time to adapt. 


Start slow, and increase your mileage by no more than 10% each week. This gradual progression helps your lower back adjust to the increased load and reduces the risk of discomfort.


Choosing the Right Running Shoes

Your running shoes are your feet's best friends. They can either make or break your run. When choosing running shoes, look for ones that offer good support and cushioning. 


They should fit well and feel comfortable right out of the box. Remember, the best shoes for you depend on your foot type and running style, so don't hesitate to seek expert advice.


Use Compression Gear

Compression gear is a runner's secret weapon. It supports healthy blood flow, helps soothe discomfort, and aids in recovery. If you're dealing with lower back discomfort, consider using back supports like those offered by Copper Fit. 


Our Rapid Relief Back Support, for instance, offers both heat and cold therapy. The heat therapy helps soothe muscle tension, stiffness, and discomfort, while the cold therapy helps support blood flow (vasoconstriction). 


You can wear it during your run for added support or afterward to aid in recovery. With Copper Fit, you're not just getting relief — you're getting a partner in your journey to stay active and feel your best.


What Can I Do If I Experience Lower Back Discomfort When Running?

Experiencing lower back discomfort when running can feel like a roadblock, but it doesn't have to sideline you for good. If you feel discomfort, the first step is to stop running and give your body a break. Ignoring the discomfort and pushing through can make things worse.


If the discomfort persists, it's important to seek professional help. A healthcare provider or a physical therapist can help identify the root cause and recommend a treatment plan tailored to your needs. This could include rest, physical therapy, or changes to your running routine.


In the long term, prevention is key. This includes practicing proper running form, strengthening your core, warming up and cooling down properly, increasing your intensity and mileage gradually, and wearing the right running shoes and compression gear. 


Remember, every runner is unique. What works for one person might not work for another. So, listen to your body and find what works best for you.


The Bottom Line

Lower back discomfort when running can be a challenge, but with the right knowledge and strategies, it's a challenge you can overcome. By understanding the anatomy of the lower back, the impact of running, and the common mistakes that can lead to discomfort, you're already a step ahead.


Remember, prevention is key. From practicing proper running form to strengthening your core and choosing the right running shoes and compression gear, there are various steps you can take to manage and prevent lower back discomfort when running.


At the end of the day, every step you take towards preventing lower back discomfort is a step toward a healthier, more enjoyable run. So, keep moving, stay strong, and remember, we're here to support you every step of the way.


Ready to take the next step? Explore our full range of compression gear at Copper Fit. We're committed to helping you stay active, feel better, and enjoy life every day. Don't let lower back discomfort hold you back. With Copper Fit, you've got this!




11 Benefits of Running That Experts and Research Say Will Change Your Body and Brain | GQ

Lumbar Spine: What It Is, Anatomy & Disorders | Cleveland Clinic

Prevalence and incidence of low back pain among runners: a systematic review | PMC

Core strength training for patients with chronic low back pain | PMC

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