Running is an activity that involves repetitive stress and impact, sometimes for a long duration. People who have an underlying lower back problem can find running or jogging makes their pain worse or leads to additional types of pain, such as sciatica (leg pain, weakness or numbness).
Running puts a high level of repetitive stress on the back, and for those with lower back problems it is particularly important to take measures to reduce the strain on the lower back.
In general, the following tips are advisable for runners, especially for those who are susceptible to low back pain or leg pain/sciatica:
- Do a thorough warm-up prior to beginning a run. I would recommend doing an active warm up instead of passive stretching.
- Stretch the hamstrings (the large muscles in the back of the thigh) twice daily to minimize stress across the low back.
- Muscle toning and strength training are also important, particularly with the core muscles of the back
- Cross training is useful, so as not to get into an overuse syndrome.
- You must have good supportive shoes that are made for your foot type. See a qualified professional or visit a running specific store to find shoes that are best for you.
- Try to run on a forgiving surface if possible, such as grass or a rubber track, and try to avoid running on cement.
It is important that back pain patients take note of any back symptoms that perhaps are being exacerbated by a particular activity. If running consistently brings on back pain or leg pain symptoms, an evaluation is useful to determine the source of that pain.