09 Oct Low Back Pain And Running
I sometimes get asked if it is OK to run with low back pain. My short answer is, if it doesn’t make it worse, then go ahead. Of course there are caveats to this, in that I know my patients well and understand their general health and any background issues.
Running is an excellent way to improve your health and well-being. Most of us would be better off if we sat less and ran more. However, running can be challenging for the weight bearing joints in the body, especially as an inexperienced runner with a low level of fitness. You should allow yourself adequate time for the body to adapt to physical changes by increasing your mileage slowly. These days there are multiple running programmes available free online or with running Apps that can help guide you to achieve your running/fitness goals.
While 80% of us will complain of low back pain at some point in our lives, it is important to understand what the cause is and whether it is appropriate to continue running.
Mild sprain/strain type injuries to the lower back are commonly seen in clinic. They respond well to Osteopathy, advice on rehabilitation activity, ice treatment and pain medication and generally do well over several days.
Severe low back pain or pain that radiates into the buttock or lower limb with associated pins and needles or weakness, is obviously disabling and will prevent running. Again, the root cause needs to be investigated urgently and treated appropriately. Osteopaths are extensively trained id diagnosing and treating this type of back pain. The general advice for back pain is to stay active and avoid prolonged bed rest. Patients generally do well with walking and gentle activities, until well enough to recommence running training.
Some low back pain can be avoided by exercises to improve core strength that helps support the lumbar spine. Also, stretching through the muscle chain at the back of the legs helps free up the lumbar spine to move more easily.
Here at The Courtyard Osteopathic Clinic, patients are fully assessed and diagnosed as to the cause of their low back pain. Each patient is prescribed a personalised set of exercises and stretches (that we email to you) in order to speed recovery. Specialist video capture may also be used to chart the change in range of movement for some patients with restricted mobility.
Once we have you moving more freely, we will look for any predisposing factors that may have lead to your episode of low back pain, e.g. muscle imbalance or poor posture etc. Once identified, further strengthening exercise, stretches or training advice will be offered in order to keep you running pain free.
Mark Stockwell is a registered Osteopath with 15 years previous experience working in the fitness industry and is a runner.