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Avoid Running Related Back Pain

Running is a common activity that many use to keep physically fit and maintain cardiovascular health. While there are many health benefits of running, some people may develop back pain from time to time. Twin Cities Spine Surgeon Amir Mehbod, along with Courage Kenny physical therapists Darci Olson and Ryan Smith, share 5 tips to avoid developing running related back pain.

  1. Proper warm up and cool down:
    Focus stretching on calves, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors and glutes to achieve adequate flexibility. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds, and perform each exercise 2-3 times per side.
  2. Maintain core strength:
    Cross training on off days is very important. Focus on strengthening abdominal muscles, low back and hips.
  3. Pay attention to the type of terrain you are running on:
    Soft surfaces such as a trail or a track will be more forgiving and cause less stress on the back. Concrete or asphalt are more rigid and cause more stress.
  4. Don’t change multiple variables of run at the same time:
    This can be too much for your back to adjust to. These variables include increasing intensity, adding a new shoe, changing terrain, or increasing distance more than 10%.
  5. Get new shoes every 350-500 miles:
    Match your shoe to your foot type. If your foot is more flexible, you will need more stability in your shoe. If your foot is more rigid, you will need more shock absorption capacity. Talk to a running professional or a running club for assistance.

Proper preparation, training and shoes should lessen the frequency of running related back pain. As always, see your doctor if your back pain persists.

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