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Most Common Marathon Running Injuries – Lower Back Pain

Updated on August 30, 2010

Lower back pain is common amongst both people who are just starting running or jogging routines as well as those who have been running and training for years.  If you’re experiencing lower back pain and you just started running chances are you started out too hard and stressed your back muscles out.  Even though you had the best intentions, your body requires a gradual introduction to excess levels of physical strain so that it has time to get used to the stress. 

For this article we’ll cover running related back pain including what causes it, some simple treatment options, and how you can prevent it in the future.  While this article will give you some helpful advice it is no substitute for seeing a Doctor and getting a professional opinion.  If any pain is severe and hurts enough to keep you from exercising or even walking it’s important that you seek medical attention.  Keep in mind that there are many simple treatment options that will bring back pain relief, many of which are simple stretches or back pain products which can be found online, but it’s up to you to do the research and make sure you find the most effective treatment for back pain relief.

When it comes to back pain there are two categories: nerve related and muscle related. When experiencing back pain after any exercise, particularly running, you should try to examine the type of pain you’re experiencing. If it’s a sharp pain that is focused down the center of your back and/or extends down into your leg then it will be a nerve related back injury. This type of injury could be cause by either a spinal cord issue or a musculatory issue. More on that later. If you experience a dull ache or throbbing in your lower back then more than likely it is a muscle related injury. Identifying which type of pain it is will go a long way in helping you to treat your back injury.

If you think that the lower back pain you’re experiencing is nerve related there are several things you can do to try to treat the injury. Most nerve injuries have to do with being pinches or misadjusted. If you’re experiencing a pain in your sciatic nerve (the main nerve that runs down your back and into your leg) then chances are that the spine is misaligned and is pinching the nerve. There are several reasons why your spine could be misaligned, but if it occurred after running then it could be that the muscles in your back are pulling on the spine unevenly and wrenching it to the side. The easiest way to relieve back pain is to stretch out each hamstring, until you can reach down each leg evenly. There are numerous stretches with complete explanations online and you may be able to find one that will help with your back pain. When you’re stretching the most important thing to do is keep an even pressure on the muscle and don’t bounce. If this doesn’t solve the problem you may want to look into an inversion table. These work by flipping you upside down to use your body weight and gravity to stretch out your spine. There are a number of new inventions such as the Nubax back pain reliever that make it very easy and effortless to get back pain relief. Another option for realigning your spine is to take a visit to the local chiropractor. While I’ve never had success with this, many people swear by them and believe that they can work miracles. Good chiropractors will provide a comprehensive solution that will involve multiple visits and extra exercises and stretches. Ultimately, if none of this is helpful you should seek a doctor’s advice as you may require alternative treatments such as surgery.

If you think that your back pain is more muscle related there are several things you can try.  If the pain is a dull sore ache throughout the day and you’ve just begun running or some other training it may just be your body getting used to the physical abuse.  Taking the recommended dosage of an anti-inflammatory drug such as Advil or Aspirin can help to remove the pain.  Icing the spot for 10 minutes on and 60 minutes off will also go a long way to reduce inflammation and muscle pain.  Another easy solution to back pain is to do hamstring and back stretches.  There are numerous websites online that can show you how to stretch appropriately.  Stretching twice a day can help to relax and stretch out the muscles so that they’re not as tight.  Another sometimes hidden factor in back pain from running is the type or age of your running shoes.  Getting the right running shoes can help keep your legs aligned for all of your strides and proper cushioning will help take stress off of your back.  Keep in mind that the average age of running shoes is about 400 miles so if you run a lot it may be time to buy new running shoes. 

No matter what treatment option for back pain that you choose make sure that you thoroughly research it to understand if it will truly help you or more importantly it won’t aggravate your condition.  There are numerous resources online that provide excellent information on how to treat back pain and doing some research prior to going to the doctor can provide a much better, comprehensive solution to your lower back pain.

Other Common Running Injuries

Sesamoiditis - Sesamoiditis is a pain on the ball of your foot.  See what treatment options are available

Plantar Fasciitis - If you have a pain across the bottom of your foot it could be plantar fasciitis. This article discusses the treatment options for plantar fasciitis

General Foot Pain - the foot is a complicated part of the body and has a lot that can go wrong, if you experience foot pain when running you'll want to check out this article.


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    • ahostagesituation profile image


      7 years ago

      My friends that really run complain mostly of shint splints and knee injuries. But my main goal with a long run is to not die. I'm with you on the chiropractor thing, and I just found out that acupuncture is also covered under my insurance. I'm just not sure how helpful it really is for sports injuries.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      i have lots and lots of back pain


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