love to run blog

Tips for Safely Running with Back Pain

Erin Hesch May 19, 21

We all have back pain, but it shouldn’t keep us from hitting the trails. Running with back pain is a challenge that can be overcome! Over the past year, we’ve been stuck at home, working hunched over our desks and laying in lounge chairs (or bed!). Existing ailments in the spine, hips, and legs are aggravated by the prolonged stress and impact on muscles, ligaments, and tendons caused by running. Our relatively stagnant year hasn’t helped our minds or bodies, either.

The following points offer runners preventative measures to ensure spinal health and integrity.

Don’t neglect the warm-up

A runner must prepare their body for strenuous and prolonged exercise. Runners should engage their abdominal, lower back, and leg muscles to ensure a proper and worthwhile warm-up. Sports-health lists these warm-ups as good starting points:

·      Slow increase in pace. This is a helpful warm-up to activate these critical muscles. A nice walk should evolve into a brisk walk which should evolve into a jog…etc.  Reach your full speed over the course of a few minutes.

·      Cardio/conditioning.  Get oxygen into your lungs and blood and get your heart rate up over a sustained period of time.  Effective warm-ups include jumping rope, stationary bike, push-ups, and jumping jacks.

·      Yoga.  Yoga helps the body’s blood flow and increases your body’s flexibility, reducing the risk of muscle strain and tension.  It also directly targets back pain, providing relief through stretching and gentle mobility.

Improve Your Running Form

·      Chest up.  Keep your shoulders back, too. Doing this keeps your chest out in front of you.  Stay relaxed though – you don’t want stress on your upper back and neck.

·      Arm movement. Keep it front to back. Crossing your arms across the body pulls on the spine, and stress and tension to muscles and tendons.

·      Feet.  Land on your mid-foot or toes. Running heal-toe adds unnecessary impart to the lower back as well as your knees.

·      Stride.  Keep it short and sweet. You don’t need to gallop.

Cool Down

·      Stretch!  Get that muscle recovery to help your body transition from high-intensity to low.

·      Soft cardio.  Spend a few minutes on the stationary bike at a light pace to ease the muscles out of the workout.

·      Slowly decrease your pace. Take it from high intensity to a light jog.

Following these tips won’t just help you run with back pain. Ultimately, they serve your whole body to decrease tension, impact, and strain before, after, and during your runs. Keep it up, and keep your back – and body – working. For more on running with back pain and other general running tips be sure to check out

Back pain shouldn't stop you from running!


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