Conquer Runner’s Back Pain: Effective Strategies for a Pain-Free Run

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Cross Training For Runners
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Written by :

David Dack

If you’re serious about sidestepping back pain while hitting the pavement, you’ve landed in the right spot.

Despite not being the typical overuse injury you’d expect, back pain is surprisingly a frequent uninvited guest among runners, from beginners to the more seasoned pros.

This type of pain often stems from a mix of issues like not-so-great running form and a lack of core strength. Tackling back pain isn’t just about nipping discomfort in the bud; it’s crucial for keeping your running game strong and sustainable in the long haul.

Today, we’re going to unpack the link between logging those miles and the ache in your back before diving into some top-notch strategies to keep back pain off your trail. These tips are all about helping you run smooth and pain-free.

Getting to Know Runner’s Back Pain

Back pain in the running community is like a puzzle, with pieces ranging from the physical grind of the sport to each runner’s unique body mechanics. Here’s a snapshot of how running plays out in your back:

  • Repetitive Stress: Every time your foot hits the ground, your spine and its muscle squad face the brunt of that repetitive shock.
  • Shock Absorption Central: Your back muscles are on the frontline, absorbing the shock each time your foot lands, safeguarding your spine in the process.
  • The Posture Factor: The way you hold yourself while running can make or break your back’s happiness.

Ready to keep back pain in your dust? Let’s jump into how to make that happen.

Causes of Back Pain In Runners

Curious about the culprits behind your back pain while running? Then here the most common ones:

  • Poor Posture: Incorrect posture while running can strain back muscles.
  • Muscle Imbalances: Weak core muscles or tight hip flexors/hamstrings can lead to spinal misalignment.
  • Overuse: Rapid mileage increase or insufficient recovery strains the back.
  • Running Surface: Hard surfaces can exacerbate spinal impact.
  • Footwear: Inadequate shoe support can affect form and lead to strain.

Preventing Back pain While Running

Prevention, and being proactive, is always the best thing to do, regardless of what condition you’re trying to avoid.  After all, why deal with the pain when we can take a proactive approach, right?

Here a few measures to consider.

Strength Train

I remember when I started incorporating strength training into my running routine. It was a game-changer! Before that, I used to think that being fit was all about cardio, but boy, was I wrong. Strengthening my rhomboids, lower and mid trapezius, and shoulders made a world of difference.

What’s more?

Core strength plays a pivotal role in supporting the lower back, offering stability and reducing strain during running.

By focusing on these areas, you can enhance your running form, distribute the impact of running more effectively, and minimize the risk of pain and injury.

Exercises For Upper Back Pain

For starters, I highly recommended resistance exercises that strengthen the rhomboid muscles, the lower and mid trapezius and the shoulders—vital postural muscle. This is especially the case if you’ve serious postural challenges and/or suffer from severe muscle imbalances..

Some of the best exercises include pull-up, shoulder extension, and Superman.

Exercises for Lower Back Pain

To strengthen the muscles on the lower back, do plenty of deadlifts (all variations), along with kettlebell swings, bridges, and the sort.

Also, strengthen your core. As I have already stated, weakness in the core is a leading cause of back pain.

Some of the best core exercises include the plank, the bridge, the windshield, Russian twists, weighted crunches, and T-pushups.

Stretching and Foam Rolling

Tight hamstrings can be a real pain in the back (literally), as they can exacerbate that pesky lower back pain we’re trying to avoid.

You see, those hamstrings provide support to every walking and running movement. But when they’re too tight, it’s like putting too much pressure on your back – not a great combo!

However, by stretching those vital hamstrings, you’re giving them the much-needed love and care they deserve.

Run with Good Form

From my own experience, I can vouch that nailing that perfect form can work wonders in preventing back pain – no critical conditions required!

So what’s the secret?

Simple. Correct running form helps distribute the impact of running more evenly across your body, reducing the strain on the back and other injury-prone areas.

What’s more?

Good form improves running efficiency, which can enhance performance and reduce fatigue, especially on long runs.

Here are the key components of perfect running technique:

  1. Head and Neck: Keep your head up and your gaze forward, aligning your neck and head with your spine. Avoid looking down at your feet.
  2. Shoulders: Keep your shoulders relaxed and down, not hunched up toward your ears. This helps reduce upper body tension.
  3. Arms and Hands: Arms should swing naturally from your shoulders, bent at about a 90-degree angle. Hands should be relaxed, not clenched into fists.
  4. Torso and Core: Keep your torso upright and avoid leaning too far forward or backward. Engage your core muscles to provide stability and support for your spine.
  5. Hips: Your hips should be stable and forward-facing. They play a key role in maintaining proper alignment of your lower body.
  6. Keep it steady: Avoid excessive twisting at your waist. Stay stable and let that upper body ride the smooth, steady wave of your run.

Sit With Proper Posture

If you’re spending more time glued to that computer screen than you’d like to admit, it’s time to give your sitting posture a much-needed makeover!

Let me spill the beans on how to nail that perfect sitting posture.

First things first – get yourself a lumbar support. Trust me, it’s a game-changer! Grab the Original McKenzie Slimline for that extra boost, or simply use a small cushion to show your back some love.

Next, keep that monitor right at eye level, and your forearms horizontal with elbows comfortably bent at right angles. No more slouching like a couch potato! Keep those hips and knees level, feet planted firmly on the ground.

But here’s the thing – sitting for hours on end isn’t doing you any favors. I’d urge you to take regular walk breaks, at least once every hour. Let those legs stretch and get that blood flowing. And don’t forget to switch it up – shift your position every 10 to 15 minutes, keeping those muscles happy and loose.

What’s more?

Throw in some dynamic exercises! Roll those necks, shrug those shoulders, and get those muscles moving. Your body will thank you for the mini workout session!


So there you have it, fellow runners. Back pain doesn’t have to be a constant companion on your running journey. By strengthening, stretching, perfecting your form, and tackling desk posture, you can keep back pain at bay and enjoy those runs to the fullest.

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