Running is an activity that offers many health benefits, but at the same time, it can be quite stressful for your joints. Due to repetitive impact and stress, many people develop lower back problems that make them feel pain when they run. Their condition may become worse with time and even lead to other types of pain, such as sciatica, which causes weakness, leg pain, and numbness.
Many runners often ask, "Why my lower back hurt when I run?" The answer is quite diverse because lower back pain often shows up quickly with no apparent reason. You may experience it when you start running without warming up. It may also develop due to muscular strains that lead to lower back muscle pain and spasm. If this is muscular pain, it will not travel into your leg or the buttock. Still, you need to consider several factors before determining what causes lower back pain when you run.
Why Does My Lower Back Hurt When I Run?
As mentioned, several issues and conditions can cause lower back pain. You have to consider several symptoms.
1. Muscle Strain
You may develop lower back pain if you engage in an activity that constantly puts strain on your muscles. This may happen due to a poor running posture or wearing wrong running shoes that may lead to pulled muscles, tight hamstrings, and muscle spasms. Maintain proper running form and stay hydrated to avoid muscle strain and spasms.
You develop this condition when you run in a way that puts severe pressure on a nerve at the base of the spine that goes to the feet. It is called the sciatic nerve and pain caused by it may occur anywhere along the nerve, resulting in hip pain, leg pain, and lower back pain. Other issues such as degeneration of the cushioning between spinal bones and muscle spasms that exerts pressure on the nerve can also lead to sciatica.
3. Piriformis Syndrome
You may have tight hamstrings and pain in the lower back due to piriformis syndrome that causes irritation in the piriformis muscle of the buttocks. The muscle helps rotate your buttock, and when inflamed, it causes pain in the buttocks, lower back, and upper thighs.
4. Foot Problems
Improper running technique is the most common answer to the question, "Why does my lower back hurt when I run?" Sometimes, you have a poor technique because of several foot problems. You are more likely to develop back pain if you have flat feet. Other foot problems will lead to a poor running technique that may affect your knees, ankles, and the bones of the spine. This often results in pulled muscles, muscle spasms, and pinched nerves.
5. Back Problems
If you have existing back problems, running can make them worse. If you run when you have degenerative disk disease, you are more likely to develop severe lower back pain. Running with pre-existing conditions may cause inflammation in the back muscles and lead to pinched nerves or other back injuries.
6. Other Causes
In addition, you may develop lower back pain while running if you have tight high flexors that do not allow full hip extension. Other common problems leading to lower back problems are poor core stability, excessive trunk rotation while running, and being too upright in your stride.
How to Prevent It
Now that you know the answer to your question, "Why does my lower back hurt when I run?" It is equally important to understand what you can do to reduce your risk of developing lower back pain. Here are some steps to take:
1. Be Sure to Buy the Most Appropriate Running Shoes
If you run regularly, you should change your shoes once every year. You should also take some other steps. For instance, use cross-training shoes for other exercises and use your running shoes only for running. Opt for a pair of shoes that offer side support, especially if you are running on uneven trails. Moreover, make sure that there is at least a thumb-width space between the end of the shoe and your longest toe.
2. Be Sure to Stretch Your Hamstrings a Few Times a Day
Your hamstrings connect with your lower back and your buttocks, and tighter hamstrings may put more strain on your back and cause lower back pain. Try the following stretches to help keep your hamstrings in perfect shape.
- Simply lie on your back and bend your knees. Now, lift your right knee and bring it towards your chest. Hold it with your both hands and pull it lightly for 10 seconds. Do the same for the other leg.
- Start by lying on your back and bending your knees. Raise one of your legs and hold it with your hand on the back of your thigh. Straighten your other leg onto the ground. Lightly pull your other leg and straighten it in the air. Now, pull it toward your chest and maintain this position for 10 seconds. Do the same for your other leg.
3. Perform Strengthening and Toning Exercises
It means you should not just stick to running all the time but include other exercises in your routine as well to prevent back pain and injuries. Remember, running is a very good exercise, but it only trains your heart, legs, and lungs. You need a full-body workout routine to avoid injuries. You can try yoga or Pilates to strengthen your muscles and even try weight training for a couple of times a week.
4. Maintain a Proper Posture
What's more, you should always maintain proper jogging form to avoid asking, "Why does my lower back hurt when I run?" Never land on your heels when running and try to strike the ground with your middle foot. Always ensure that your body stays in line directly above your feet – do not lean forward or backward while running.