Back pain can put significant strain on your everyday life and make a lot of activities increasingly challenging. Running is certainly one of them.
However, there is a way to run safely with back pain – whether you have a preexisting condition causing your pain or if your pain is caused by the actual runs.
Let’s take a look.
Warm up well
Warm-ups are the key to ensuring you don’t get a lower back sprain or strain during your run, so always make sure you devote some time to them before heading out. A good warm-up will involve both the muscles of your core (abs and lower back) and your leg muscles.
There are several ways to warm up, so you can do whichever you prefer and whichever feels best. Here are a few ideas:
- You can start with a 2-3 minute walk and then slowly build up speed until you start jogging, from where you can move into a full-speed run. Depending on the distance you want to conquer, make sure you don’t overexert yourself in terms of speed at the cost of stamina.
- You can do some aerobic exercises like jumping jacks, rope-skipping, or burpees, which are all a great way to warm up.
- You can also do some yoga that will help improve your blood flow and prepare your body for the run.
The aim of the warm-up is to get your blood flowing, so make sure your back and your legs are feeling ready for the strain ahead.
Cool down well
Cooling down is just as important as warming up. It will help you flush out the lactic acid from your muscles, thus preventing soreness and even injury.
To cool down properly, you can simply do the opposite of warming up – gradually slow down into a jog, then from a jog to a slow trot, and finally into a walk. Walk for 2-3 minutes as you catch your breath and your heart rate drops.
You can also do some stretching or yoga that will help ease your muscles back into regular physical activity after the run. Make sure you also stretch your back, and not just your legs.
Rest between runs
Rest days are just as important as running days. Even if you feel you can run every single day, you still need to give your body some time to recover properly.
Depending on your form and fitness level, give yourself at least two days a week off, when you can go on walks, do some yoga, or simply allow your body not to do much physical activity.
However, it’s not just about resting between runs. It’s also about resting on the days when you do run, in order to ensure your back pain doesn’t start playing up. Consider a new mattress that’s designed for back pain, which will help you rest every night and recover for the next run. Also, make sure you are not only eating well, but that you are eating enough. Even though running taxes your body in different ways than lifting weights, you still need to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.
Make sure your running shoes fit
The shoes you run in can make your runs enjoyable, or they can turn them into hell. Making sure you are running in shoes that fit you well is simply key.
Make sure you consider things like arch height and under- or over-pronation when choosing your footwear. You might want to get expert tips from your doctor or physical therapist, depending on the cause and level of your back pain.
Also, make sure you get some proper running socks. Inadequate socks can cause all kinds of injuries, which will, in turn, cause you to alter your form, leading to added or exasperated back pain.
Replace your shoes when they begin to show signs of wear and tear. Typically, they’ll become less comfortable, and you’ll notice they’re affecting your stride.
Running with back pain is not impossible. Depending on the kind of injury or strain you are faced with, you might need to be extra cautious and ease yourself into it gently. But if you focus on your form and don’t tax your body more than it can reasonably take, you should be able to enjoy your runs fully.