Running and lower back pain

Whether you jog on a treadmill or on the road, running is still considered a high-impact exercise, which means your joints are subjected to a large amount of shock. As you run, each stride brings your foot into contact with a hard surface – and your ankles, knees, hips and spine must absorb that stress. Years of running can take a toll on the body, so it’s no surprise that a common complaint among runners is lower back pain.

The lumbar (lower) spine is especially susceptible to injury because, of all the spinal segments, it supports the most weight and demonstrates the highest level of flexibility. If the vertebrae, facet joints and spinal discs are already weakened due to age-related degenerative conditions, running can lead to further damage. This can potentially contribute to conditions such as a herniated disc or a spinal bone spur that can cause lower back pain.

Low-impact exercises for low back pain

If you enjoy running but lower back pain is slowing you down, there are a variety of recreational sports and activities that are gentler on your spine. Try using an elliptical trainer. While the movements are similar to those of jogging and cross-country skiing, the foot pedals eliminate the shock of foot-surface contact. Swimming is also an excellent, low-impact way to strengthen your entire body. Using a recumbent stationary bike can build leg muscles as you support your neck and back.

Lifestyle changes to help low back pain

If you have been diagnosed with conditions like spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, a prolapsed disc or a disc protrusion, you may also want to make some lifestyle changes to decrease your back pain. Consider investing in a mattress with good lumbar support, making an effort to practice proper posture at all times and checking to see that the furniture in your workplace is ergonomically sound.

Lower back pain treatment

By combining a healthy and active lifestyle with conservative treatments like physical therapy and chiropractic care, many patients with lower back pain related to a spine condition can find relief. However, you may be asked to explore the possibility of surgery if weeks or months go by without providing relief.

Patients in this situation should get in touch with the dedicated team at Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back procedures that offers our patients less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time^.

Find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures when you receive a free MRI review* from our team.