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Getting “Back” To Basics! Combatting Back Pain as a Runner


It might be the result of those spring marathons or associated with the increase in training for the summer events, but in recent weeks we’ve seen more runners suffering from back pain visiting the clinic.

To begin, let’s get two things straight! (because one thing wouldn’t make an article)

Number one….Your back is an immensely strong structure. The idea that you could do something that results in the spine needing to be “put back into alignment” is a fallacy.  Short of a car crash or falling out of a tall tree, there aren’t many times the load placed on the spine is large enough to dislocate it or risk an injury of that magnitude.

Clearly you can suffer injuries as a result of lower-load, repetitive-stresses, but these are often more likely to be something you can take control of yourself (ideally before it even happens).

Number two….Let’s move away from the idea that “too much running is bad for you”, I’d argue that “too much BAD running, is bad for you” instead. 

Is your “bad” back actually your bad back?

The design of your back is such that the load during running is transferred from your hips, through your sacro-iliac joints to your spine and vice-versa. It’s a great way to dissipate impact forces associated with hitting the floor, passing them on to big muscle groups like your glutes, quads and abdominals, in order cushion you.  

Cleverly though, it also pre-loads these muscles ready for them to produce the force needed to drive you forwards for your next step.

The combined function of these areas are paramount to running well and here’s where some of the issues begin. A breakdown in  function at one area can lead to pain in any of them.

Beat your bad back with your bum!

Without stating the obvious, the majority of runners love running! Usually, at the expense of any  other activity.

Of those who combine their running with some general gym work, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard people say they only do upper body weights because “my legs are strong anyway….after all, I’m a runner”.

Often when assessed, these areas aren’t quite as strong as they initially thought.

Now before you think about investing in membership to the local club or all the equipment for a home gym, there are some simple drills you can do to load all the right areas without spending a penny (well maybe only £3 on a resistance band).

Ensuring that you can hip hinge, abdominal brace and leg press well, will go a long way to helping your efficiency around running.

Try the following program yourself and see how effective it can be! Treat it like a circuit, starting at the top. Aim for 10-12 repetitions of each for 3 rounds.

Squatting with Band – https://vimeo.com/227407731

Skater with Band – https://vimeo.com/227419384

Single Leg Deadlift – https://vimeo.com/227416593

Side Lunge – https://vimeo.com/225473484

Plank with Progressions – https://vimeo.com/230426960

Reverse Lunge – https://vimeo.com/227392700

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