The Link Between Running & Increased Lower Back Pain

In today’s world where every health-conscious individual is registered at a gym or takes up various boot camp challenges to stay in shape, the majority still considers running as the most effective form of workout. Not only is it a high impact exercise that targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously, but it even regulates the hormonal physiology of the body. However, a startling discovery became known in recent years where runners were found to be more prone to lower back pain.

Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints with which individuals present to the clinical setup of physicians and local statistics revealed that approximately seventy per cent of them were found to be runners.

How is Running linked to Increased Back Pain?

Lower back pain can result from a multitude of factors, and this is exactly why it is quite complex to attribute this symptom to running. From a sedentary lifestyle and obesity to arthritis and osteoporosis, the causes of back pain are innumerable. However, the relationship between running and chronic back pain is clear.

Running is a high-impact exercise that imposes enough pressure on the joints of the lower limbs and hips. The repetitive, jarring effect sends a wave of impulses through the joints of lower limbs, which has a significant impact on the overall musculature, and nervous structure of the spine. Many of the healthcare workers even attribute lower back pain to muscle and ligament strain rather than any structural damage to the nerves of the spine and running can further exacerbate these underlying conditions.

The Scientific Evidence

Garbutt carried out a study in 1990 at Sunderland Polytechnic in England, the purpose of which was to evaluate the magnitude of stress on the back while running. The results shocked the masses as it was revealed that running affects the overall length of the spine. The disks between the vertebra are temporarily compressed while running resulting in spinal shrinkage and chronic pain.

Another study carried out in 1985 evaluated the hip flexibility of runners and compared it with that of sedentary individuals. The statistical figures were startling as it was reported that runners had tighter hamstring muscles which automatically tugs their pelvis into a forwardly rotated position, hence resulting in lower back pain.

The Chiropractor’s Opinion

Chiropractic is the latest addition in the field of complementary medicine, which focuses on treating musculoskeletal disorders. As per their view, you do not have to give up running just because you experience continuous bouts of back pain. A few modifications can change the overall outlook of the situation. For instance, warming up before running at full speed and stretching the lower limb muscles after exercising can have an optimal effect on the nerves and musculature of the back.

Furthermore, the use of good sports shoes and practising weighted core exercises improves the lumbar range of motion and enhances muscle strength, thus keeping back pain at bay. Additionally, chiropractors can also help with lower back pain treatment should you need it.

Although the musculature of the back is well adapted to handle the stress associated with running, it is quite common to experience lower back pain symptoms in runners.

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