Lower Back Pain When Running: Causes and Prevention Tips

Are you a runner, from a casual sidewalk jogger to a marathon-lover? If so, lower back pain might have caused you some trouble. It’s a common issue that can really slow you down and take away the fun from your runs. But don’t worry, learning a few things and taking some steps can make your running time pain-free and more enjoyable.

In this guide, we will look at what causes lower back pain. We’ll talk about the muscles and bones involved. And most importantly, we’ll share ways to keep your lower back strong and healthy. Whether it’s from hurting a muscle, using parts of your body too much, or something else, we will cover why your back might hurt. With what you learn here, you’ll be able to beat this problem and enjoy your runs more.

Key Takeaways

  • Lower back pain is a common concern for runners, impacting both performance and overall well-being.
  • Muscle strain, overuse injuries, muscle imbalances, poor biomechanics, and pre-existing conditions can contribute to lower back pain when running.
  • Understanding the anatomy and significance of the lower back is crucial for developing effective prevention strategies.
  • Implementing a proper warm-up routine, maintaining good running form, and choosing the right running surface can help mitigate the risk of lower back pain.
  • Strength training and cross-training can enhance overall stability and reduce the strain on the lower back during running.

The Prevalence of Lower Back Pain in Runners

Many runners worry about lower back pain. It affects how well they run and their health in general. Studies say about 20% of runners have dealt with this issue. So, it’s a big deal for people who love to run.

Understanding the Significance of the Lower Back

Your lower back is super important. It helps hold your body up and move smoothly when you run. This area includes the lumbar spine, discs, and muscles. They all work together to keep you moving well.

Common Causes of Lower Back Pain When Running

Lower back pain in runners can happen for many reasons. These include muscle strain, using your back too much, uneven muscle strength, not moving right, and health problems you already had. It’s key to know these causes to find ways to stop or treat the pain.

For example, a study from 2018 showed that runners who didn’t have strong deep core muscles often got back pain. Another study found that in 2021. It said marathon runners who didn’t warm up are more likely to get lower back pain than those who did. Learning about these facts helps runners look after their backs better. This way, they can keep enjoying their runs without hurting.

Anatomy of the Lower Back and Its Role in Running

It’s key to look at how the lower back works when running. The lower back, with five vertebrae, holds up the body’s weight. It also takes in the shock of each step.

The Lumbar Spine and Its Shock-Absorbing Discs

The discs in the lumbar spine are like tiny cushions. They lessen the hit of each step, making running smoother. These discs also help the back bend and move when running.

Facet Joints and Their Importance in Stability and Mobility

Facet joints keep the vertebrae connected. They help keep the back stable but mobile for running. This means runners can move in different ways without hurting themselves.

The Sacroiliac Joint and Force Transfer

The sacroiliac joint links the upper and lower body for running power. If this joint doesn’t work right, it can cause back pain. So, it’s important for running smoothly.

Hip Flexors and Their Connection to the Lower Back

Hip flexors affect how the lower back feels when running. If they’re not strong or flexible, running can strain the back more. This can lead to pain.

Ligaments, Connective Tissues, and Their Stabilizing Role

Ligaments and tissues around the lower back help keep it steady. If these weaken, the spine can get wobbly. This raises the risk of pain and injury.

Herniated Discs and Sciatica: Understanding the Injuries

A herniated disc can cause big back pain for runners. It might also cause sciatica, shooting pain down the leg. Knowing about these injuries can help runners stay healthy.

Preventive Measures for Lower Back Pain While Running

A good warm-up is key to avoid lower back pain when running. Start with light cardio and dynamic stretches. This gets your body ready for the run.

See also  Lower Back Pain When You Walk - Causes and Treatment

The Importance of a Proper Warm-Up Routine

A proper warm-up can stop lower back pain before it starts. It includes easy activities to warm you up. These could be walking or jogging. Add dynamic stretches for your lower back, hips, and legs. This makes you more flexible and lowers injury risk.

Incorporating Dynamic Stretches

Dynamic stretches are great for running. They include leg swings and torso twists. These moves get your muscles ready for running. They help prevent lower back pain.

Activating the Core Muscles

Strengthening your core before running is important. Make your stomach and back muscles work. Use exercises like planks and bird dogs. They help your lower back while you run.

Maintaining Proper Running Form

Good running form keeps your lower back safe. Stay upright, with a strong core. Distribute your weight even. This makes running easier and stops lower back pain.

Choosing the Right Running Surface

Your running surface matters. Pick smooth, even surfaces like tracks. This choice removes pressure from your lower back. It makes running less painful.

Cool-Down and Static Stretches

After a run, cool down and stretch. Focus on your lower back and legs. These stretches make you more flexible. They keep your back from hurting.

Foam Rolling for Muscle Tension Release

Foam rolling after you run is helpful. It relaxes your lower back and leg muscles. This makes them more flexible. It lowers the risk of lower back pain.

Follow these steps to lower your lower back pain risk when running. You’ll have a healthier and better time running.

lower back pain running

Many runners, new and experienced, face lower back pain. The pain can be from muscle strain, overuse injuries, muscle imbalances, poor biomechanics, and pre-existing conditions. Knowing these causes is important.

It helps us prevent and manage lower back pain when running.

Nearly 80 percent of the population experiences low back pain at some point in their lives.80%
Muscle strains are a common cause of low back pain in runners.
Training errors, such as inappropriate training intensity, sharp mileage increase, hill running, and improper shoe wear, can lead to low back pain.
Core weakness and muscle imbalances are often responsible for lower back pain in runners.
Physical therapists can evaluate and address muscle imbalances and core weakness through customized exercises.
Video gait analysis is used by physical therapists to assess abnormalities in a runner’s form.
Tight muscles commonly seen in runners include hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors.
Prolonged pain lasting more than two to three weeks during or after a workout may indicate more serious issues such as disc involvement, facet irritation, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, or spondylolisthesis.2-3 weeks
Remote work or studying at home can lead to increased sitting time and tight muscles, contributing to lower back pain.
Consistent stretching of tight muscles and basic core strengthening exercises like planks, bird dogs, curl-ups, and hip strengthening can help prevent lower back pain in runners.
Persistent pain despite addressing training errors may require medical evaluation and intervention.

Understanding lower back pain in running is key. It shows how to enjoy running without pain.

Strength Training and Cross-Training for Injury Prevention

Strength training and cross-training are key to stop lower back pain while running. Work on core and lower body exercises. This makes you stronger and keeps your lower back safe when running. It also makes your spine and pelvis muscles stronger. This lowers the chance of getting hurt.

Add cross-training too. Doing yoga or biking makes you more flexible and balanced. This reduces the chance of running-related lower back injuries. Mixing up your training makes you a better runner. You’ll handle different running grounds without hurting your lower back.

Strength Training for Overall Stability

Do core strength running and lower body strength running exercises. They’re great for your lower back while running. These exercises make the muscles around your spine and pelvis strong. This helps with balance and lowers the risk of lower back pain.

Cross-Training for a Well-Rounded Approach

Add cross-training running lower back to prevent injuries. Try yoga, biking, or swimming. They boost your flexibility, balance, and overall shape. This makes you a stronger and more adaptable runner. You can run different places without hurting your lower back.

See also  Lower Back Pain After Exercise - Causes and Relief Tips

Treating Lower Back Pain from Running

Feeling lower back pain from running? It’s important to find out why. It may come from muscles, bones, or discs. Muscle pain is felt on each side of the lower back. Bone pain, though, is more like a general ache and common in people over 65. If the pain gets worse when bending forward and shoots down your legs, see a doctor right away.

Foam Rolling and Stretching for Relief

For muscle pain, use a foam roller and do stretches. It helps ease tension and makes your back and muscles more flexible. Stretch your hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors to help with the pain.

Seeking Medical Attention for Severe Cases

If your pain is strong or doesn’t go away, see a doctor. They can check what’s wrong and give you the right treatment. A physical therapist can help with exercises for weak muscles. Sometimes, seeing a doctor is needed for more serious problems.

Treating back pain from running needs many steps. Using foam rollers and doing stretches helps. But, getting tips from doctors and therapists is key too. This mix helps you get back to running without pain.

Footwear and Equipment Considerations

It’s crucial to wear the right running shoes to protect your lower back. They should fit well and give good support. Doing so will help lessen impact and lower the strain on your back as you run.

Look for running shoes that keep your body aligned and absorb shock. Choose shoes that are light and bend easily but still support your arch. A stable midsole and the right heel-to-toe drop also help you run better and feel more comfortable.

Not just running shoes, but other footwear can help too. Sandals with soft, supportive soles, like Birkenstocks, can ease back pain. You might also try shoes with rocker soles. They cut pressure on your foot joints and help with posture, good for your lower back.

If you need extra support, custom orthotics are a good option. They’re made just for you and can fix how your feet move. Orthotics give you the cushioning and support your lower back needs when you run.

Always listen to your body. If your lower back hurts a lot or often, see a doctor. They can find out what’s wrong and recommend the best shoes and gear for you.

Running Surface and Terrain Impact

The surface you run on affects your lower back’s health a lot. Running on bumpy or hard surfaces can hurt your lower back. It might cause pain or injury. To keep your lower back happy, pick smooth paths. Good choices are running paths or tracks.

Running on concrete makes you hit the ground harder than on tracks or grass. It means more jarring for your lower back. But, softer surfaces like woodchips are gentler. They don’t hit your spine as hard.

Running SurfaceMean Acceleration (MA)Peak Acceleration (PA)Steps
Concrete1.35 ± 0.1 g3.90 ± 0.55 g33.37 ± 2.95
Synthetic Track1.30 ± 0.1 g3.68 ± 0.45 g34.90 ± 2.67
Grass1.30 ± 0.1 g3.76 ± 0.48 g35.60 ± 3.94

Run on surfaces that are kind to your body. Choosing the right path can stop lower back pain. It makes running more fun and easy.

Modifying Your Running Routine for Pain Management

If you keep feeling lower back pain, changes to your running routine might help. One good idea is to start running on a treadmill or an outdoor track. These surfaces are smooth and can be easier on your back. Doing this lets you keep running, even with some pain.

Treadmill and Track Running

Running on a treadmill or a track can ease lower back pain. A treadmill has a flat surface that’s gentle on your back. Tracks are also good because they’re usually flat. Try both to see which feels best and hurts less for you.

Seeking Professional Assistance

If the back pain doesn’t stop, it’s time to see a physical therapist. They will check what’s causing your pain. They can then make a plan just for you. This plan could have specific exercises or therapy. It aims to reduce the pain so you can get back to running with no pain.

Biomechanical Factors and Running Gait Analysis

Runners often face lower back pain. Key reasons include bad posture, odd strides, and uneven steps. These factors lead to lower back strain and discomfort. A full running gait analysis is very helpful.

See also  Standing Too Long Lower Back Pain: Causes and Relief

This analysis is done by experts. It checks how you run closely. It finds any stride details that add to your lower back pain. Up to 70% runners with patellofemoral pain have had their gait adjusted because of these findings.

Healthcare pros can then craft a plan based on your needs. They aim to make your running style better. This helps your lower back feel less sore. Research says 60-80% of runners with patellofemoral pain improve with these plans. Plus, their chance of getting hurt again goes down.

If you have Achilles tendinopathy or other pains, gait analysis is key. It can really change your running. By fixing how you run, you make your body stronger and cut down on the lower back pain.


Lower back pain is a worry for many runners. But, you can prevent it and enjoy running pain-free. Know what causes it, take care of your body, and use the right tips. This way, you can protect your lower back and keep running as you like. Always include strength and cross-training, warm-ups, and cool-downs.

Got back pain while running, or after? Or any running back injury or lower back strain? Deal with the main issues and use several ways to fix them. Good exercise and easing tightness help a lot. This keeps back issues away, so you can run without hurting.

Stay sharp, change your plan when needed, and get help if you have serious issues. Doing this can beat running with lower back problems. Run knowing you’re keeping your lower back safe and sound.


What are the common causes of lower back pain when running?

Lower back pain while running can be from many things. This includes muscle strains and how you use your muscles. It can also come from not having the right balance in your muscles. Bad movement style and previous health problems are also causes.

How can the lower back anatomy impact running performance and comfort?

The back’s lower part is vital for running well. It includes the lower spine, hip joints, and muscles that move the hip. Problems with these parts will make it hard to run and be comfortable while doing so.

What preventive measures can be taken to mitigate the risk of lower back pain when running?

To stop lower back pain, do a good warm-up with stretching. Get your core muscles ready. Run correctly and on a good surface. After running, cool down with light stretches and roll your muscles with foam.

How can strength training and cross-training help prevent lower back pain in runners?

Training your muscles, especially the ones in your center and legs, can make you strong and support your back. Activities like yoga and biking help you move in different ways. This keeps your back safe during running.

What should I do if I experience persistent lower back pain from running?

If your back keeps hurting, find out why. It may be from muscles, bones, or discs. A doctor can check and suggest the best way to treat it.

How can the right running shoes and equipment help prevent lower back pain?

Good running shoes help your back handle the shocks better. Also, using inserts or supports can give more help and keep your back steady.

How can the running surface and terrain impact lower back pain?

Bad or hard grounds can stress your back more. It can hurt it or cause injury. Choose soft, flat paths for a better run without hurting your back.

When should I consider modifying my running routine to manage lower back pain?

If your back still hurts after trying to stop it, change how and where you run. Use a treadmill or a good outdoor path. This can make running easier on your back. Also, getting tips from a physical therapist is a good idea to adjust your running in the right way.

How can a running gait analysis help address lower back pain?

How you move can make your back hurt. A doctor can look at how you run to find what’s wrong. They will then tell you how to run better, which helps your back feel less pain.