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  • Writer's pictureAdam Whatley

What to Do When Back Pain Interferes with Running

It is not uncommon for running to bring on back pain and visa versa. Also, if you to not listen to your body and continue to run whilst back pain comes on this can bring about further problems.  

On the opposite hand, some people who experience mild back pain while sitting or resting find that their back pain disappears after a warm up and run. In these cases the back often responds well to movement and running is helpful.   

Easy to perform Treatments for Running Related Back Pain Most of the back pain that runners experience is the result of mild strains or sprains as a result of poor biomechanical running form. If it seems possible to continue training but the back pain is becoming a detriment, the following self-care measures may be incorporated: Gentle stretching exercises for the upper body, hips, and legs, such as reaching the arms over the head, bending over to touch the toes, or stretching by leaning each side of the body over horizontally while seated on the floor. These exercises can activate the muscle tissue of the back, stimulating blood flow and accelerating the healing process from mild injuries. However, it may be advisable to seek biomechanical assessment for a professional sports related structural osteopath.

An ice pack can help to reduce inflammation in the back. Heat therapy, such as applying a warm compress, an electrical heating pad, or a commercial adhesive heat pad to the affected area is good to provide pain relief to back discomfort (when NOT acutely inflammed). 

Most cases of lower back strain or sprain will resolve with the correct assement and attention, if improvement doesn’t appear over that time, it is advisable to consult a medical professional trained in sports-related injuries. 

What to Do If Back Pain Lasts More Than a Few Weeks If running-related lower back pain lasts longer than two to three weeks and/or does not respond to self-care measures, the problem may need further structural assessment. This is especially true for back pain with ‘sciatica’ symptoms, where pain, tingling, numbness, or other neurological symptoms radiate down the one leg - often making running impossible. This may identify nerve root compression and need to be rectified ASAP. 

Those with chronic back pain should hold off on their training schedule until fully evaluated by a sports osteopath. In general, anyone who has had spine surgery is cautioned against going back to running as the impact can be harmful to the spine. For anyone who has been advised against running, other low impact aerobic conditioning is advisable, such as biking, stationary biking, or elliptical training, swimming or water therapy. Walking on a treadmill is also a good option, as the treadmill has some cushioning to lessen the impact on the spine. Here at Dynamic Osteopaths  we are trainings in sports and performance medicine and will provide detailed examination of possible causative implications and how to rectify them. 

Get in touch to find out more

01564 330773

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