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Does Running Help With Back Pain?
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Does Running Help With Back Pain?

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on September 22, 2022
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5 min
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Experienced runners will say that there’s nothing better than the feeling of running. And they may be right. 

Nothing beats the wind in your hair, the sense of freedom and accomplishment when you finish a run, or the sound of your feet on the ground or pavement. Running is empowering and freeing, at least, until back pain gets you.

So, should you still jog when you feel chronic lower back pain? Or, perhaps you should stop running altogether? 

Let’s find out!

Does Running Help Back Pain?

Absolutely! Studies have shown that aerobic exercises, including running, can drastically improve back pain.

Even though running improves chronic back pain, it’s still a high-impact exercise, meaning it’s not suitable for everyone. Also, keep in mind that back pain can be caused by complex conditions, emotions, and biomechanics.

What Causes Back Pain?

The answer can be complicated, though there are common conditions that cause back pain. People between 30 and 50 years of age find back pain more likely to be caused by the following conditions:

Arthritis 

Arthritis is the swelling or inflammation of joints. It’s a general term used to describe over 100 conditions that affect the joints, including the tissues around the joint or other connective tissues. Symptoms of arthritis vary, although they typically include joint pain, like stiffness. 

Except for arthritis, back pain can cause sciatica and spine dull aching pain, too. Sciatica is when your nerves are irritated or compressed as they leave your spinal column. Hence, pain can really be the source of sciatica arthritis skeletal irregularities. 

Bad sitting posture 

If you’re doing an office job and continuously have a bad sitting posture, you will have back pain. It’s that simple. To prevent bad posture, avoid sitting to one side with your spine bent, danging or not supporting your feet, and keeping your knees, arms, or ankles crossed. 

Muscle strain 

A muscle strain, including sitting muscle spasms, is when you injure your muscle or tendon, the tissue that connects the muscles to the bones. Small injuries usually overstretch a muscle or tendon, while more severe injuries could tear the tissues completely. 

Osteoporosis 

Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens the bones to such a point where they break easily, especially the bones in the hip, wrist, and spine (back). Osteoporosis is known as a silent disease because you may not notice anything until your bone breaks. Even if you don’t notice changes, your bones may be losing their strength for many years. 

Constipation 

Constipation is associated with back pain. It occurs when stools cannot be eliminated from the rectum or move too slowly through the digestive tract. 

Generally, constipation is described as having less than three bowel movements per week. Even though it is common, some people experience chronic constipation, which can be annoying and interfere with day-to-day life. Constipation may also cause strain to have a proper bowel movement. 

How to Prevent Back Pain Before and After a Run? 

Preventing pain before and after a run is crucial if you want to keep enjoying running. As mentioned above, running puts repetitive stress on your back, so people with lower back problems need to take measures to reduce the strain. Here are some tips for runners susceptible to lower back pain: 

Warm up before the run

Before you begin your run, do a thorough warm-up. This allows you to warm up your back to avoid damaging it when running. 

On that note, do keep an eye out for the Joggo running app. It can help you with your warm-up, stretching, and cool-down exercises so that you can avoid stressing your back.

Moreover, Joggo offers personalized training plans for both beginners and pros, including a treadmill mode, bi-weekly running plan adjustments based on your progress, and consultation with in-house specialists. In fact, by having immediate access to experienced runners, you can easily ask for professional advice or about back injuries. 

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Stretch after a run

After you complete your run, take a deep breath and begin by stretching your hamstrings. These are the large muscles in the back of the thigh. You should do this twice a day to minimize stress across your lower back. 

Short jog instead of a long run 

If your back is weak, avoid going on long runs. Instead, focus on short jogs a few times per week. This way, you do exercise but also avoid wounding your back. 

Other Tips That Help With Back Pain

Except for the above, there are also other ways that can help with your pain symptoms. Here are some of them: 

Rest for a while 

Sometimes, resting for a while is all you need. Just take a break while running, and you’ll be good to go. Also, remember to wear supportive and comfortable shoes when jogging – they do miracles!

Avoid lifting weights

Strength training and muscle toning, including lifting weights, are also important and can help prevent back pain. However, if you overdo it, you may end up hurting the core muscles of your back. So, be careful and lift weights as long as you can handle them. 

Try other aerobic exercises 

Besides running, you can do other aerobic exercises to treat your back pain. Some of the most popular aerobic exercises that help reduce back pain are: 

  • Swimming 
  • Walking
  • Biking
  • Cardio workouts (they can also help you decrease insulin resistance)

When you find the exercise you like the most, try to begin with short sessions and take it from there over time. In any case, if your back is really hurting, go swimming since the water supports your body, easing the pain. And obviously, avoid any sudden strokes that can twist your body. 

By doing so, you avoid wounding your weak core muscles and difficult deep, dull pain, among others. 

A Word From Our Coach

Back discomfort may be quite inconvenient, and aside from being unpleasant, it can completely throw you off course, causing your run to be ruined. Back pain in the weak core muscles can be excruciating, ranging from the stiffness that makes standing or walking difficult to a deep, dull ache in the groin or buttock area to muscular spasms.

To avoid it, you would have to warm up well before beginning your run, take breaks while running, and stretch after your jog’s over. Additionally, you could try avoiding lifting weights, as they can stress your back, or even try other forms of aerobic exercises, such as swimming, biking, walking, or rowing.

Lastly, you could consult a physiotherapist before going on a new exercise routine. A physiotherapist is a licensed professional that can assess the root of your pain and work with you to set goals adapted to your needs. Alternatively, physiotherapists develop treatment plans that treat the issue at its cause.

We know back pain is off-putting. Yet, if you stick to our advice, it won’t be a problem again. Just remember to avoid over-stressing your back and reduce your pain; improve the intensity of your aerobic exercise, and all will be fine.

Last but not least, feel free to check guidelines for more information on workouts that contribute to your overall health, including exercise examples that help with blood pressure.

Conclusion

Back pain could be a serious issue for most people. However, by following the above advice, you ensure the pain is kept at a minimum. This way, you can keep enjoying your runs, lose weight, and improve your health.

In the end, listen to your body. If you feel you need to take more time off to heal before running again, take it. And, remember: Whether it’s shin splints, regular pain, or anything else, pain that wakes you from sleep must be investigated. 

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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