Activa Sports Therapy Blog

Back Pain for Runners.

Back Pain for Runners.

If you experience low back pain whilst running it is usually caused by stiffness and tightness in your spine and muscles as well as a lack of strength and stability.

Stiffness in the spinal joints of your upper back (thoracic) and lower back (lumbar) will increase the rounding in your upper back and an increased arch (lordosis) of your lower back. Tightness develops in the fronts of your hips (the hip flexors) and your middle and lower back muscles. The excess tightness in your muscles pulls on your pelvis and tips it into a forward tilted position. This forward tilting of your pelvis increases the lower back arching even more and can give you back pain.

If your pelvis is constantly held in an increased anterior or forward tilted position your deep abdominal core muscles will be elongated and therefore are not able to activate efficiently. Your gluteal muscles work to stabilise your hip joints and also provide power for propelling you forwards during running. If your gluteal muscles are over lengthened and weak they will not be able to activate and fire up as they were designed to do.

Why do weak gluteal and core muscles and stiff spinal joints give me back pain?
Your low back muscles will work overtime when you run as they try to compensate for your weak deep abdominal core muscle activation. Something has to provide stability to your pelvis so your low back is now doing a job it wasn’t designed to perform. Weak gluteal muscle firing also adds to your lower back overworking, increasing your back arch to try and develop power as we push off each leg.

Poor stability in your foot and ankle and weak calf muscles also decrease your ability to push off each leg. If your gluteal muscles are weak this can cause instability in the foot and ankle all of which can lead to overactive low back muscles and more back pain.

Our Physiotherapists can help you overcome all of these back pain related issues. We provide hands on Physiotherapy to mobilise your stiff spinal joints, release muscle tension throughout the spine and your pelvis/hip region.

Physiotherapists can provide you with specific stretches, foam roller or self-release program for maintenance. At Physiotherapy we will also educate and work with you to retrain your deep abdominal and gluteal muscles in the correct pelvic position. Our aim is to will help improve your muscles firing patterns to re-establish spine and pelvic stability. Our Remedial and Sports massage therapist can also help you to release tight and overactive muscles.

Our Physiotherapists can also work with you on an individual power and strengthening program for your gluteal, hamstring and calf muscles, which will decrease the arch in your lower back and put less strain on your spine and back muscles.

Physio also offers a specific back pain and core stability exercise class run by qualified physiotherapists. This class is aimed as an adjunct to those who may already be engaged in active exercise such as running but need to perform corrective exercises to either rehabilitate or keep your core and gluteal muscles firing properly as well actively stretching and lengthening tight hips, spine and lower limbs.

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