Runners With Low Back Pain: 5 Exercises To Help Fix It And Prevent It From Happening Again
Are you a runner struggling with low back pain? We get it. We’ve been there. Here is a set of exercises that may help. We use them all the time on our injured runners in Franklin, TN and Nashville, TN. These are designed to help ease low back pain and prevent it from happening again. Of course, we always recommend talking to a professional (we know a guy) before getting started.
You may not think your lower back has much of a role in running, but it plays a pivotal part in the kinetic chain that powers your running mechanics. How? Let’s break it down. Your core muscles—not just your abdominals, but the muscles that wrap around your midsection—support your spine and lower back. And your core, hips, glutes, and hamstrings together form one big stability machine, so weakness in any one of those muscles forces the others to take up the slack. If you have weak hip and gluteal muscles, for example, as they become fatigued during a run, your lower back is forced to work harder to keep you upright and stable, and you become vulnerable to injury.
Causes of Lower Back Pain In Runners
1. Muscular pain that comes on suddenly in your lower back is often indicative of a muscle spasm. Your muscles will feel as though they have locked up, and the pain can be severe and debilitating. You will not feel the shooting pain characteristic of sciatic or discogenic pain.
2. Pain in your lower back that is associated with shooting pains down the back of one or both legs indicates sciatica or discogenic pain. A pinched nerve causes this discomfort. It often feels sharp compared to the muscle-gripping sensation that you would feel with a spasm.
3. If you feel a chronic general achiness across the whole area of your lower back, you may have arthritis.
Back Pain Prevention
To prevent back pain, you need to work on strength and flexibility through the entire kinetic chain. Your spine and spinal muscles get lots of support from your core. In addition, tightness or weakness in your glutes, hips, quads, and hamstrings will impact the muscles in your lower back, putting more strain on those muscles and setting them up for a spasm. If you’re trying to fix that nagging back pain—or more importantly prevent it—try the following strength exercises, As always, consult with YOUR PHYSICAL THERAPIST before starting any new exercise routine to ensure it’s safe for your condition. Complete 3 to 5 sets of the following exercises in order. Perform each exercise for the specified number of reps or seconds, resting for 30 seconds between exercises. You will need a large stability ball and an exercise mat.
Start on all fours. Lower onto your forearms with shoulders directly over elbows. Step feet back into a plank position. Draw your shoulders down and back—not hunched. Engage abdominal muscles tight to keep hips in line with shoulders so your body forms a long, straight line. Squeeze legs and glutes for support. Hold this position for 45 to 60 seconds. Gradually add time as your core gets stronger. Repeat for 3 to 5 reps. Make it harder: Roll onto your right forearm and stack feet to perform a side plank. Repeat on other side.
2. Stability Ball Back Extension
Start facedown on a stability ball with feet resting on floor and core engaged so body forms a straight line. Keeping your back naturally arched, place hands behind ears and lower your upper body as far as you comfortably can. Squeeze glutes and engage back to raise your torso until it’s in line with your lower body. Pause, then slowly lower your torso back to the starting position. Repeat for 12 to 15 reps.
3. Stability Ball Reverse Leg Raise
Lie facedown on a stability ball with your hips on the ball, hands on the floor with shoulders over wrists, and legs extended out straight, toes resting on floor. Keeping legs as straight as possible, engage glutes and lower back to lift legs until they are in line with your torso. Lower back down to the starting position. Repeat for 15 reps.
4. Glute Bridge
Lie faceup on the floor with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, arms resting at sides. Squeezing your glutes, lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Pause for 3 seconds, and then lower back down to the starting position. Repeat for 15 reps.
5. Locust Pose
Lie facedown on the mat with legs extended straight and arms down at your sides, palms down. Contract your glutes and lower back muscles as you lift head, chest, arms, and legs off the mat and rotate arms so thumbs point toward the ceiling. Hold for 30 seconds, and then relax back to the floor for 5 seconds. Repeat three times.
Need more help recovering from your back injury? Send us a TEXT. We’d love to help you conquer your back pain and return to running without pain.
The above article is a variation of a previously published article. You can find the article HERE.