Lower back pain when running is a common ailment for runners. Many factors can contribute to back pain, such as improper form, weak muscles, and overuse. There are several ways to prevent and treat back pain, including stretches, adjustments to your running routine, and strengthening exercises.
Read on our post for full of information.
- 1 What Causes Lower Back Pain From Running?
- 2 Identifying Runner’s Lower Back Syndrome
- 3 Low Back Pain Fixes For Everyone
- 4 How To Get Medical Help For Your Back Pain
What Causes Lower Back Pain From Running?
Runners’ Low Back Syndrome is not a medical term. I use it to describe the most common causes of lower back pain in runners. Although they are distinct conditions, I still recommend the same self-help treatment for all four. It can sometimes provide effective relief from any pain. These are the conditions:
1. Facet Joint Irritation
The vertebrae are the building blocks of the spine. These vertebrae are linked to one another by discs at their front (the ones that slip!). The back joints are also connected. These joints can become inflamed and irritated if you have a large hollow in the lower back, such as a gymnast or dancer, and if your abdominal muscles are weak. This could cause pain when running.
2. Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
Two joints called the Sacroiliac joints can be found on either side of your lower back, just above your buttocks. These joints are easy to spot as they are located next to the two knobbly bones in your lower back.
You will also find two dimples in your skin that lie above the joints. They are called the “Dimples of Venus” (google it to see if you don’t believe me). Running can cause us to land on one side or the other of our feet more often than the other.
This can lead to excessive pressure being applied through the sacroiliac joint (rarely through both). It can cause inflammation and pain.
Want to learn more about how to breathe properly, check out our post: How To Breathe While Running? Top Full Guide 2022
3. Recover Your Energy
This is exactly what it says. It might not be exactly what it says. It is a weakness in the lower back that causes a loss of control when running. However, it also has a weakness within the abdominal muscles. These two weaknesses result in a global vulnerability of the lower back, which means that the muscles can’t control movement during a run. This causes stress to the spine and results in pain.
4. Myofascial Trigger Points In The Lower Back Muscles
Two things happen when we stress weak muscles: they either cramp up completely or cause them to contract. They can either cramp up completely or a small portion of their muscles will cramp up. This results in trigger points, which are little knots of tight muscle.
These two reactions tend to occur at the end of very important races, according to McCarthey’s Law. This law states that Sod’s law may be too optimistic. The result is that running causes moderate to severe pain that cannot be easily stretched.
In summary, Lower back pain when running is generally caused by:
- Inability to run due to weakness in the lower back and surrounding muscles
- A runner who does too much and over-exertions their lower back.
Identifying Runner’s Lower Back Syndrome
If you feel any of the following, you should be concerned that you might have RLBS.
1. A burning sensation in the lower back that occurs while running. This usually happens after about 10-15 minutes of the run.
2. The pain may be in the buttocks but not below the knee and it is not accompanied by tingling or numbness.
3. Running over or around the knobbly bony bits at the bottom right of the lower back can cause pain and tenderness. (The Dimples of Venus).
4. Leaning backward or sideways can worsen the pain. However, it is possible to have trouble putting on shoes when you sit down due to myofascial trigger point.
5. Running can make your back feel stiff and vulnerable.
6. It is not obvious why the pain persists. There has been no injury apparent.
Low Back Pain Fixes For Everyone
It is important to note that running injuries and chronic pain don’t always happen out of the blue. Running with lower back pain is a sign that you may have gaps in your training. You might have been running more lately than usual, so you may not have had time to do cross-training. Maybe you skip your cool-down or post-run mobility and just go for a run. You might also find your lifestyle too sedentary.
Strengthen Deep Core Muscles To Reduce Lower Back Pain When Running
Low back pain can be caused by weakness in the core muscles, specifically the deep stabilizer muscle. These muscles keep us upright and balanced, with little rotation to the side or back and forth.
They also have attachment points through our spines and pelvis. Running in particular, and all of our daily activities requires a strong core to absorb shock. A strong core can absorb shock from your body as you run thousands of steps.
A week’s core has a downside. You will likely notice a change in your posture. Because the stabilizing muscles of the core are not engaged, people who have weak cores tend to adopt a slightly arched and overextended posture.
This not only causes instability in your body but also makes it difficult to engage your glutes. All runners and athletes need these muscle powerhouses. To keep running injury-free and long-term, it is important to strengthen the core and correct this arch.
Let’s explore how spinal positioning affects your glutes and core engagement. This will help us understand deeply about pain-free running.
Get Your Glute Engagement Tested
- Start with your glutes to find a neutral spine position.
- As you would normally, stand with your feet hip- or shoulder-width apart.
- Next, squeeze your butt to activate your glutes. Your pelvis should shift slightly forward immediately.
- Even if you’re not actively trying to stretch your core muscles, you’ll likely feel them engage.
Keep the sensation of a neutral pelvis with engaged glutes as you go through the movements. This will allow you to make the most of both drills and improve your running.
Develop Core Strength With A Hollow Body Hold
This drill will add another variation to the engagement test. This drill will help you activate your deep abdominal muscles. They support and protect your spine, keeping it from falling into a dangerous situation. Your core will also help to reduce the strain on your lower back muscles. This can lead to injury and repetitive stress if it is left to absorb the impact from running.
- Place your hands on your stomach and place your feet flat on the ground.
- To create a “tabletop” position, lift your legs and bend both legs at 90 degrees.
- Your knees should extend directly above your hips, and your head should rest on the ground.
- Your low back should be pressed down into the ground. Your hand should not be between your lower back, the ground, and your hand.
Next, you will add challenges to the position and really test core engagement.
- Take your head off the ground and place your arms in front of you. Keep your palms facing upwards.
- The arms can be raised above your hips and perpendicularly to the ground.
- Start by extending one leg and then extend both.
- Play with variations of just legs extended, or one arm and opposite leg, etc.
Notice how different variations can affect your core demand, just like when you change positions while running.
Your low back must stay in line with the ground. By doing this, you can keep your lower back stable and safe by avoiding hyperextension or compression of the spine.
For 6 rounds, hold your position for 10 seconds. As you need, increase the time.
Improved Hip Mobility Can Ease Lower Back Pain When Running
Your hips are the other piece of the puzzle. These days, it’s quite common to sit down when you’re not running or exercising. We do it too, sometimes.
Let’s look at what this means.
Your hip flexors connect your pelvis and lumbar spine. They are made up of the iliacus and the psoas. Together, they flex your hip joint and move your leg toward your body. The hip muscles are activated with every forward step. These muscles become shorter if you sit all day. They will lengthen when you stand straight. When your hip flexors become tight, or if they are in a shorter position, they can pull on your pelvis, causing you to tilt your pelvis forward.
Your chronic low back pain will be entered.
Let’s improve our hip mobility by focusing on the hip flexors. This is not a static stretch that requires you to hold a position and then move, but a dynamic mobility drill. Running requires movement through your hips and not static positions. We’ll recreate that movement with rotation and reaching.
- Begin by standing straight with your pelvis neutral.
- Start by rotating the body side-to-side, twisting the upper body from the lower body.
- Feel a slight stretch in the front of your hips.
- Continue to rotate the upper body side-to-side.
Now, you can place your right leg behind you and take a shallow lunge position.
How To Get Medical Help For Your Back Pain
If your back pain persists after you have tried these methods, get professional medical advice and sports medicine or physical therapy immediately.
Dr. Yoo suggested that there may be more to the problem than just running form or strength training. If the pain persists for more than a few weeks, Dr. Yoo recommends that you seek medical attention.
Giancarlo also notes that there is another indicator you should consult a medical professional: If the symptoms last more than eight weeks, they won’t go away with stretching. Or, if the pain spreads beyond the foot or calf.