"The real purpose of running isn't to win a race, it's to test the limits of the human heart"
- Bill Bowerman
As a chiropractor, I’m commonly asked if running causes back pain. Under certain circumstances, running is considered a ‘high impact’ activity. Many people are concerned about the repetitive stress and impact it has on the body, often over long distances and for long durations.
There are many benefits to running, such as burning calories, better cardiovascular fitness and stronger muscles.
Runners may also experience the following health concerns: shin splints, knee pain, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis and illiotibial band syndrome.
So, can regular running cause back pain?
Can you say that running causes back pain? It’s not as simple as that. People who have existing spinal or postural problems, like chronic low back pain, may find that running exacerbates an underlying condition and that various other forms of activities or sports may lead to feelings of pain.
It is true, however, that ongoing high impact activities may lead to additional stress and strain on your body, resulting in feelings of pain. If you already suffer from back pain, going for a run may make it worse.
Have you noticed that your back pain comes on quick after a run? Common types of pain while running may include muscular strains and pains characterised by spasms, pain and pressure on the lower back.
Perhaps twisting the wrong way, bending down quickly or not warming up before an exercise session causes pain. Sharp pain or referred pain into other areas of your body is a concern. More serious signs may include pain radiating down the legs, numbness, tingling or stiffness.
Remember, pain is your body’s way of telling you something isn’t right. Rather than stopping the activity that causes your pain, such as running, consult a chiropractor for a thorough check-up to determine if the alignment of your hips, spine or overall posture is contributing to feelings of pain.
Running and herniated discs
If you have a herniated disc, running may make this condition worse. You can find out more about herniated discs in this blog post. Your spinal discs act as shock absorbers, cushioning impacts along your spine.
The problem with a herniated disc, where the outer wall of the disc pushes into the spinal canal, is that running may increase the pressure and stress on an already inflamed condition.
Should I run with lower back pain?
If your lower back pain is causing real concern, it’s best to stop running while you address the cause of the pain. Possible causes of lower back pain include damage to muscles and ligaments, spinal misalignments, postural problems, poor ergonomics, herniated discs and nerve interference.
If you experience slow and steady back pain after a workout or run, consult your local chiropractor for a thorough chiropractic and postural evaluation.
Running tracks around Parramatta
There are a variety of running routes throughout Parramatta that many of our patients enjoy using. If you’re up for a local challenge, consider the Parramatta Loop Walk: a 14.7km circuit in Parramatta Park taking in Westmead and North Parramatta.
Running tips to minimise lower back pain
- Warm up and warm down after each run
- Allow a short period of rest (several days) between each running session
- Daily stretching to increase muscle and ligament flexibility
- Apply ice packs on the sore spot to reduce inflammation and pain (especially around the spine)
- Consider shoe inserts or custom made orthotics to level your feet
- A thorough chiropractic check up
Running research article
A recent study (1) looked into the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain in recreational runners. The study was able to conclude that:
“the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain in recreational runners about to compete is substantial. Physiotherapists might be able to circumvent worsening of existing overuse injuries in this population with advice and preventive interventions.”
Manual therapists, including chiropractors, physiotherapists and sports and exercise massage therapists are all qualified and able to address back pain issues caused or exacerbated by running.
The advantage of a chiropractic approach to back pain is that chiropractors commonly address any underlying cause of the pain and provide treatment programs that aim to correct fundamental misalignments. Chiropractors focus on the health of your spine and nervous system.
A chiropractic check-up for running pain
Many of our patients, including those who do the Parramatta Park run, enjoy the benefits chiropractic offers them.
Let us help you by:
- Identifying possible spinal misalignments
- Improving the functioning of your nervous system
- Helping your spine achieve normal alignment
- Restoring more normal function to your body
Consult Our Clinic
Get your body working for you! Your health is your greatest asset - how are you protecting it? Consult New World Chiro now on 02 9687 4011 or leave an email below to schedule a chiropractic check-up. We’ll help you to address your health concern.
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Lopes AD, Costa LO, Saragiotto BT, Yamato TP, Adami F, Verhagen E. Musculoskeletal pain is prevalent among recreational runners who are about to compete: an observational study of 1049 runners. J Physiother. 2011;57(3):179-82. Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21843833