Lower Back Pain: Why It Happens to Runners & How to Get Rid of It

Lower Back Pain in Runners - Why we experience it, and how to get rid of it.

Back pain of any kind, especially lower back pain, can be incredibly frustrating as a runner. We spend hours each week stretching, foam rolling and strengthening our muscles – so it’s especially upsetting when aches and pains continue to arise.

In a sport that deals predominantly with lower body muscles, experiencing back pain usually comes as a bit of a surprise. However, back pain is quite common among runners.

Luckily, Dr. Brent Wells, the founder of Better Health Chiropractic and Physical Rehab, has a few tips to share for runners who experience lower back pain. Check out his advice below!


Lower back pain is something we all experience – whether the natural wearing of the body is the cause or something more temporary such as pregnancy or post-surgery.

According to the American Chiropractic Association, back pain is the very cause of 264 million days of missing work within a year. 

Many activities are known to cause lower back pain, while some activities can cause back pain, but it can still be prevented.

What is Lower Back Pain?

Lower back pain is also known as lumbago. Because lumbago is so common, there are many instances where it can be diagnosed by self and even treated.

There isn’t a long list of symptoms regarding lumbago other than back pain, sometimes chronic and sometimes mild.

There are some common causes of lower back pain, and to avoid them can help prevent further discomfort. Those causes include:

  • Improper lifting
  • Bad posture
  • Arthritis (can’t always be prevented)
  • Exercise
  • Muscle sprain
  • Muscle strain
Lower Back Pain in Runners - Why we experience it, and how to get rid of it.

What Are Some Ways to Prevent Back Pain?

  • Lift with your legs and not your back
  • Invest in special mattresses that give the back the most natural posture in the night
  • Avoid wearing heels
  • Be mindful of good ergonomics
  • Avoid any prolonged standing or sitting
  • Engage in daily exercise and stretching
  • Avoid running on cement if you can help it
  • Don’t skip the warm-up
  • Proper shoes are vital

Proper shoes help keep the body stable and help force the body to practice good posture whether sitting or standing. Proper shoes are also a part of good ergonomics and will help in the exercise and stretching aspect; especially when walking or lifting weights on flat surfaces.

Chiropractic care and/or massage therapy is also one way to help prevent any short term or long-term back pain or discomfort.

Lower Back Pain in Runners - Why we experience it, and how to get rid of it.

Why Do Runners Experience Back Pain?

Runners experience back pain due to the impact that the constant pressure brings upon the overall body. The knees are affected when running just like the back. They both tend to take on a lot of the aftermath cause and effect brought on by certain functions or activities done with the body.

Any extra weight the body may be carrying around is also going to place a burden on those areas.

In simple terms: whatever calls on the body to perform repetitively, calls on more than one muscle, and any places of strain on the body can cause the back to experience pain.

Running is a repetitive movement that calls on the whole body, and because runners frequently run it can take a negative toll on the health of the back.

Runners World informs us that the repetitive movement of the whole body can cause the vertebrae within the spinal area to become agitated. It’s when they are agitated that the discomfort begins.

Can Running Make Sciatica Worse?

Running with Sciatica can certainly worsen back pain due to the extra strain and continued pressure being placed upon the body, specifically the legs. The nerve can easily be triggered while running because of the legs moving so consistently and sometimes even rapidly.

The nerve can also be triggered after running once the body starts the recovery process, and some of the soreness and training is felt within the body.

The level of severity and the symptoms that one deals with in terms of sciatica will determine whether or not running is safe to engage in. In some cases it’s said to be beneficial, while others are told to stop until the symptoms decrease.

5 Common Mistakes Runners Make

  1. When and if you’ve taken some time away from running or exercise all together, it’s smart to start slow and build your way back up. Your endurance will be built over time and not in one sitting. Therefore, be smart and don’t push yourself too hard too fast hoping it will get you back acclimated like you were before the hiatus. Injuries are more than likely to happen when pushing yourself too hard and potentially overtraining or overusing the muscles.
  1. Because some runs are short and some are long, it’s very important to understand the importance of good nutrition and proper water intake. Chugging lots of water during a run isn’t the smartest thing to do, but rather, being sure the body is properly hydrated before running that is more beneficial.
Lower Back Pain in Runners - Why we experience it, and how to get rid of it.
  1. One sure way to create a back injury or back pain is by running after you’ve engaged in a strenuous workout of some sort. To overwork the body is dangerous enough, but to add running to an already tough workout that leaves your muscles exhausted is asking for injuries to happen.
  1. Runners sometimes fail to understand the importance of strength training outside of consistent cardio in the form of running. The whole body must be properly equipped and strong so that there is no imbalance brought upon the body.
  1. Don’t run to lose weight; rather, run to get fit and be healthy. Ultimately, aim to have fun when engaging in running and don’t take it so seriously that you compromise the health of your body. Keep the right perspective so that your mental health will be stable as well as your physical health to avoid any imbalances (mental imbalances matter too), leading the body to no longer function as it should.

How is Chiropractic Care Beneficial to a Runners Back Pain?

Chiropractic care is beneficial in many cases, and back pain is certainly one of the areas where it makes all the difference. Seeing a chiropractor gives you the options to either choose massage therapy, spinal manipulation, spinal mobilization, a simple adjustment or maybe you want to combine the manipulation and massage therapy. 

Whether you’re experiencing chronic levels of back pain due to running or mild aching because you started back running after a long break, a Juneau chiropractor or your local chiropractor can help you begin your journey to a healthier back, pain-free. 

If you are a runner, it’s very important to get the facts regarding how to keep the back healthy while you remain active. Taking the steps to prevent back pain all together can save you an injury or even a doctor’s bill.

While it is true that runners often times experience lower back pain, your pain level (if you experience any at all) is up to you and what you’re willing to do to prevent the pain from happening.

About the Author

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice includes top-rated Juneau massage therapists, physical rehab therapists, and chiropractors; and has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief.

Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.

Lower back pain can be especially frustrating for runners. Here is how to relieve back pain and prevent it from occurring in the future. #lowerbackpain #backpain #runningpain
Lower back pain can be especially frustrating for runners. Here is how to relieve back pain and prevent it from occurring in the future. #lowerbackpain #backpain #runningpain

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