Running is an excellent form of exercise, but it can take a toll on your lower back if you don’t take proper care of your body. The lower back plays a crucial role in maintaining an upright posture, but weaknesses in the core muscles, hips, glutes, and hamstrings can cause discomfort, pain, and spasms, putting runners at risk of injuries that can slow down progress.
There are three main lower back issues that runners often encounter: muscle spasms, sciatica or discogenic pain, and arthritis. Muscle spasms can cause sudden and severe lower back pain, while sciatica or discogenic pain is characterized by shooting pains down one or both legs. Arthritis results in chronic achiness in the lower back area.
To prevent back pain, it is essential to work on strength and flexibility throughout your kinetic chain. The core muscles play a significant role in supporting the spine and spinal muscles. Additionally, tightness or weakness in glutes, hips, quads, and hamstrings can put more strain on lower back muscles, leading to spasms.
There are several strength exercises that can help prevent and alleviate nagging back pain. These exercises include:
Hip Raises: Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes, and raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Pause for five seconds, then lower to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for three sets.
Reverse Hip Raises: Lie facedown on a bench with your torso on the bench and your hips off it. Lift your legs until they are in line with your torso, keeping them almost straight. Squeeze your glutes, raise your hips, pause, and lower to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for three sets.
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Planks: Assume a push-up position, but bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms. Engage your core, squeeze your glutes, and hold for a minute. Roll to one side and hold your body up off the floor in a straight line from head to foot for another minute. Repeat on the other side.
Cobra: Lie facedown on the floor with your legs straight behind you and your arms straight down next to your sides, palms down. Raise your head, chest, arms, and legs off the floor and hold for 30 seconds. Relax back to the floor for five seconds and repeat three times.
By incorporating these exercises into your routine, you can prevent and alleviate nagging back pain, making running more comfortable and enjoyable. It is important to always listen to your body and seek professional advice if you experience persistent pain. Remember, taking care of your body is essential to ensuring that you can continue to enjoy the many benefits of running.
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