The Best Ways to Prevent Back Injuries While Running

Running is an excellent way to stay in shape and to increase cardiovascular endurance. However, in spite of the myriad benefits to running for exercise, the practice does come with a whole host of risks. Injuries are common in runners, due to a variety of factors. Back injuries while running are a prominent problem we see and treat every day. Luckily, with some steps and precautions, runners can decrease their risk of back injuries while running.

Preventing Back Injuries While Running

Increasing Core Strength

In order to withstand the significant force on your body during the act of running, core strength is pertinent. The weight bearing phases of your running gait demand it. And in addition to being one of the best ways to prevent back injuries while running, good core strength is also helpful in treating and preventing injuries in other areas as well. For example, some runners with knee pain may find that it is alleviated after they have built the appropriate muscles to support proper form in their running. There are several different exercises to build core strength. While you will want to focus on abdominal muscles, traditional crunches are far from your only option. Dedicating 10-15 minutes a couple of times per week can make a significant difference.

Take it Easy

Runners (and those aspiring to become runners) are notorious for their propensity to “run through the pain.” And while their commitment to the sport is admirable, it is important for your health and safety that you know your limits, listen to your body, and set realistic goals for yourself in terms of miles and time. Adding mileage to your runs too aggressively is a definite prescription for back injuries while running, as well as injuries in many other parts of the body. As a general rule of thumb, you should not look to increase the amount of total time you are running more than 10 percent per week.

Additionally, if you are injured, be sure to give your body ample time to recover. Persisting through an injury may sound noble, but there is no pride to be had in further aggravating your injuries. Be sure to get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, ice, and elevate any injured areas, as well as taking steps to reduce levels of inflammation in your body. If needed, seek professional help to treat your back injury. Taking care of yourself is not only one of the best ways to prevent back injuries while running, but also critical to being able to continue your active lifestyle.

Use Proper Form

If you find that you continue to suffer from back injuries while running, even after taking steps to increase your muscle strength and giving yourself proper time to recover from a well-paced running regimen, it may be that your form or gait while running are causing a problem. Muscle imbalances are a common culprit behind bad or inefficient running form. Simply put, this occurs when the way you are running causes you to put disproportional exertion on a certain muscle or muscle group. Consulting with a licensed health care provider can be helpful in assessing what tweaks you might try to make your running form work better for you, resulting in fewer injuries and actually increasing speed and endurance for many (even veteran) runners.

Pick the Right Shoes

Speaking of proper form, having the correct running shoes is crucial to this as well. If you have a sneaker that lacks proper arch support, or shoes that are not suited to the way your feet naturally strike the ground, you are prone to injury as your body’s running form naturally changes to compensate for the inefficiencies of the running shoes. If you think that your running shoes may be contributing to your back injuries, be sure to talk to someone from a reputable running shoe company (rather than someone just trying to sell you expensive running shoes) about which options you should look for in a running shoe. If you do not know where to start, your qualified health provider will likely have some recommendations for you. Whoever is advising you should measure your arch and observe your motion while running and the way your feet strike the ground. Without this information, no one is really able to give you informed advice about the best ways to avoid back injuries while running through picking appropriate running shoes.

For a sport that on the surface seems so very simple—you can do it anytime, anywhere, and you do not need any equipment—there are far more factors than people realize that contribute to the overall safety of running and the runner’s ability to maintain it is a large part of any fitness routine. But, by taking appropriate measures to avoid back injuries while running and other similar problems, many will enjoy running and its health benefits for years to come.
If you have suffered an injury from running, or are experiencing pain, any one of our providers can help you get back on the right track. Contact us today.