What Causes Lower Back Pain For Runners?

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A long run might leave you feeling out of breath and stiff the next day. But all too often, some runners experience intense lower back pain. What causes lower back pain for runners?

Lower back pain in runners can occur due to a muscle strain or sprain. A weak core can cause stiffness and pain. You can also get lower back pain if you don’t warm up before running or wear the wrong shoes. It’s important to see a doctor to find out the cause if the pain does not go away.

Some runners have intense workout regimes to prepare for marathons. Others just run for daily exercise. But lower back pain can happen to anyone.

In this guide, we will look at why runners experience lower back pain and what causes it. Remember, if your pain does not go away, it is vital to see a doctor.

Why Do Runners Experience Lower Back Pain?

Lower Back Pain For runners

There can be many reasons why runners experience lower back pain. It can be due to an underlying condition or because they hurt themselves while running.

There are a few common causes of lower back pain in runners, such as muscle strains, sprains, a weak core, or muscle imbalance. 

Runners may also experience lower back pain if they have weak deep core muscles. This can lead to chronic lower back pain and core instability. 

Joint Irritation and Inflammation

Your spine has 33 vertebrae that form the spinal canal.

Vertebrae are connected to each other by discs. In turn, these discs and joints are connected to each other. If you have weak core muscles, these joints can become irritated and cause inflammation. Thus, running with inflamed joints can cause pain during and after running.

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

The sacroiliac joints are on either side at the lowest part of the back above your glutes. 

While running, if you land harder on one foot than on the other through poor technique, you can put excessive pressure on one of these joints. This can irritate the joint and cause discomfort, pain, and inflammation leading to lower back pain. 

Weak Core And Lower Back

If the muscles in your back are weak, it can lead to losing control while running. Weakness in your abdominal muscles can aggravate this condition. These two weaknesses make your lower back vulnerable.

As you run and get tired, your back and core muscles can’t control your movements. Unfortunately, this will lead to stress and pressure on your spine. As a consequence, you will experience lower back pain.

When you have weak muscles, two things can happen. They can cramp up, or small parts of the muscles cramp up. This causes pain since it results in small knots of tight muscle. These muscles are called trigger points.

You can develop mild to severe pain while running. It will be very difficult to stretch these knots, and you might even have to abandon the run.

You Overused Your Muscles

If you’ve been running too much, you may have put too much pressure on your lower back. Running too much can lead to your back muscles and ligaments being overused, causing lower back pain. 

Nobody wants to be told to take a rest – but nobody wants chronic back problems, either.

Best to rest it up if your problems are directly tied to over-use!

Bad Form And Posture

If you run with bad form or posture, this may lead to lower back pain. So pay attention while you are running and ensure your form is correct. You can also improve your posture by doing back and core exercises.

What Is Runner’s Lower Back Syndrome?

Suffering from runner’s lower back syndrome is very painful and can cause severe discomfort while running or afterward. The following symptoms are signs of the runner’s lower back syndrome:

  • You will experience lower back pain while running. This pain generally starts after 10 minutes while running.
  • The pain can radiate to your glutes.
  • While running, you will experience pain and tenderness. This pain will occur over and around the lower back. 
  • When leaning back or to the side, you will experience lower back pain.
  • Your back will feel stiff and tender, especially when you are running. You can also experience this discomfort when you are not running.
  • The pain can present itself even if you have not injured your back.

Are There Treatment Options For Runners’ Lower Back Pain?

This condition is very painful and can affect a runner’s overall performance. What can you do to alleviate the pain?  

Stretching

Stretching is one option to alleviate the pain caused by runners’ lower back syndrome. Regular yoga stretches can also ease the pain and help strengthen your core and lower back muscles.  Remember, consistency is key.

Stretching your hip flexors is also essential to help you with pain. Stretching your calves and hamstrings is equally important.

Lower Back Support Belt

A lower back support belt will act as a second pair of muscles. It will provide enough support to the lower back and will help ease your pain. You can also run with it. It will give your lower back some rest to help the recovery process.

Strengthening Your Hamstrings And Glutes

These two muscle groups are generally weak in beginner runners. You need to focus on strengthening your hamstrings and your glutes. It will provide support.

Heating Pads

Heat eases muscle pain and stiffness. The purpose of heating pads is to assist with circulation and pain. You can wear this heating pad the whole day by placing it where you experience pain and stiffness. 

You can also try a massage pad to roll out some of the kinks.

Aqua Jogging

Aqua jogging is ideal when you want to strengthen your core. It’s advisable for runners suffering from runners’ lower back syndrome to consider water therapy.

During aqua jogging, you will wear a buoyancy aid around your waist. You will run in the water without your feet touching the floor. There’s no impact on your legs, and it will force you to strengthen your core. 

Sports Massages Or Physiotherapy

Getting a sports massage will help you get rid of back trigger points. A therapist will be able to treat your stiff muscles, and it will give your back an all-around muscle workout.

All the above options are recommended by professionals and can help you get rid of stiffness and pain. Always remember that consistency is key! Engaging in any of these treatments can only help if you do it regularly.

Lower back massage

If you don’t want to see a professional, consider investing in a chirp wheel or massage gun to provide relief at home.

How Can You Prevent Runners’ Lower Back Pain?

Managing your back pain can be very tricky – prevention is better than cure. What can you do to prevent lower back pain if you are a runner?

Wear Proper Shoes

If you don’t wear correct and supportive shoes for running, it will place pressure on your lower back muscles. It is essential to change your running shoes every 300 to 500 miles. If you want to be sure your shoes fit properly, it’s best to let a professional assist you so your shoes are a proper fit.

Stretch Your Hamstrings

If you have tight hamstrings, it will place a lot of strain on your lower back. To ensure your hamstrings are flexible, always stretch after each run.

One of the best ways to loosen up hamstrings is by doing yoga or pilates regularly. You can also use a foam roller to help loosen up your hamstrings. 

Strengthen Your Muscles

To prevent lower back pain when running, it’s essential to have a very strong core. You can strengthen your core by doing core exercises, low-impact cardiovascular exercises, and exercise ball workouts.

A strong core will help prevent injury to your lower back. Core-strengthening exercises will also strengthen your abdominal and back muscles. Strengthening these muscles will protect your lower back when running.

Warm up Before Your Exercise

It’s pivotal to warm up before doing any type of training. Warming up before running can help prevent injuries, which include lower back pain. You can take a walk or jog half a mile at a slow pace. When you are done warming up, do a few dynamic stretches. 

Stop Running When Feeling Pain

When you run and experience acute pain, you should stop immediately. If you continue running, you might make the problem worse and risk a bad lower back injury. Take a few days off and rest while treating your injury.

It can be easy to prevent lower back pain when you are a runner. Listen to your body and if you need time to recover or simply some time out, go ahead and rest. 

Our Verdict on Running with Lower Back Pain

If you’re a runner, it is vital that you make sure your lower back is strong enough to avoid injury. A lot of times, lower back pain can be caused by sprains, weak core muscles, inflammation, and tightness.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Various studies have shown that runners are likely to be less affected by lower back injuries than the general population. If you can correct the technical inefficiencies, you may find that the pain goes away quickly on its own.

Doing regular core exercises, stretching, warming up before running and low-impact cardio are the best ways to address lower back pain. If you have a strong core, it will help prevent lower back pain.

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