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Back Pain After Running? Here’s What to Do to Help

Back Pain After Running? Here’s What to Do to Help

Back Pain After Running? Here’s What To Do To Help

This content was medically reviewed by Baher S. Yanni, MD, on January 28th, 2021.

Running is an excellent form of aerobic conditioning for the body, but it can be harsh on the spine. Many people experience lower back pain after running. Pain doesn’t have to slow you down, though. Spine Institute of North America can help, and with using proper form and training, you can minimize back pain after running and get back to doing what you love.

Why Does Your Back Hurt During Or After Running?

Running can cause lower back pain due to muscle strain, herniated discs and exaggerated curvature of the spine. Most frequently, this pain comes from the discs of the spine. While you run, the discs in your spine absorb the shock of your body as it bounces up and down. As you grow older, these discs may deteriorate and lead to pain.

Hyperlordosis, or exaggerated inward curvature of the spine, is another leading cause of back pain while running. Hyperlordosis pushes your stomach and tailbone to curve outward, creating an exaggerated “S” curve in the spine. You can test for hyperlordosis by standing against a wall and checking to see if your back is flush.

As with any exercise, running may also lead to muscle sprains and strains. Intense physical activity can cause muscle tension, torn ligaments and hyperflexibility.

How To Reduce Back Pain While Running

Running and back pain don’t have to go hand in hand. Prevent and minimize back pain through the running techniques listed below.


Before starting every running session, make sure to warm up properly. Stretching primes your muscles and prepares them for aerobic exertion. Before you begin running, take a least a few minutes to walk or jog at a slow pace before breaking into a long and steady stride.


Align your posture from the ground up by choosing a supportive running shoe. Choosing the right shoe can help build back strength that alleviates pressure on your spine.


Core muscle training exercises can help you achieve spinal stability and integrity. Try warming up with core exercises that focus on the abs and lower back — such as sit-ups and spinal twists — to minimize exertion on the spine and prevent lower back pain after running


Overtraining is counterproductive to your exercise routine and is more likely to harm your body than help you train. To minimize your back pain, run no more than four times a week and do not increase your speed and distance simultaneously. Always give yourself at least one day of rest from training per week.


Poor running posture can lead to back pain during running. While you run, keep your chest forward with your arms back and develop a striking motion from the middle of your foot to your toes.


Soft surfaces, like rubber tracks or asphalt, are preferable to cement for running. The softness of these tracks minimizes shock on your joints and muscles.

7. Stay Hydrated

The discs in your back are mainly water, and you can help them perform at their best by staying hydrated. Drinking water a couple of hours before your run and then taking a water break every 10 to 20 minutes during your workout can give your back and body the hydration it needs to prevent running back pain.

8. Make Time to Cool Down

Cooling down is as important as warming up and can help your muscles relax after running. Cooling down can start with a light jog after your run, followed by stretching. Since your hamstrings and calves tend to get tight as you run and can impact your back, you should also incorporate hamstring and calf stretches into your cooldown routine.

9. Try Foam Rolling Your Back and Legs

Before or after your run, you can help loosen up sore and tight muscles by foam rolling your back and legs. Foam rolling acts like a deep tissue massage and by focusing on the hamstrings, you can help take a lot of pressure off your lower back that may be causing pain.

10. Stop at the First Sign of a Problem

One of the most vital tips is to stop at the first sign of pain. Running through the pain, even if it’s minor, can make it worse, and the few days of rest you could’ve taken at the beginning may turn into a few weeks of rest.

When to See the Experts at Spine Institute of North America for Back Pain From Running

If you’ve tried the above methods and your lower back pain after running is staying the same or getting worse, you should schedule an appointment at Spine INA so our expert team can diagnose the issue and get you started on treatment. When you arrive, our team may perform an X-ray to diagnose if any specific muscle problems may be causing your pain.

If your back pain has become a shooting pain that goes down your legs into your toes or you have difficulty standing upright, go to a medical doctor as soon as possible. Extreme pain is rare for back pain caused by running, but it may indicate a more serious underlying issue and requires immediate attention.

Let Spine INA Alleviate Your Back Pain

At Spine INA, our physicians will help you treat your back pain in the most effective and least invasive way to get you running again. Schedule a consultation to relieve your pain and revive your life.

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