Epic Win: I ran my first trail half-marathon!
Not So Epic: My lower back hurt while running and is still painful two days later.
The lower back pain left me hobbling around, struggling to do even simple things like tie my shoes or lean down to pet my dog.
Fortunately, there are things we can do to treat and prevent lower back pain.
Whether your back pain is because of your hunched computer screen posture, lifting weights incorrectly, or muscular imbalances while running, we have some tips for you!
First, let’s differentiate muscle-related back pain from bone and disc-related back pain.
Discogenic back pain, or pain caused by a bulging or slipped disc in the lower back, is caused by a disc pushing on a nerve. This type of pain gets worse when bending forward. It is also very common for discogenic pain to shoot down your legs—this is called referred pain.
If you are over the age of 65, there’s a good chance your lower back pain is arthritic. As you age, you lose the natural cushioning between your joints, including the vertebrae in your spine. Without this cushioning, your bones rub together, causing pain.
This pain is felt along the sides of your spine and worsens when you twist or move. Most importantly, muscular pain does not radiate down your leg like discogenic pain.
Fortunately, if you have muscle-related back pain, you can start treating and preventing it at home!
Increasing your flexibility will help decrease lower back pain. Of course, there are many different stretches you can do to improve flexibility. But according to Dr. Jordan Metzl, the best way to target your lower back is by using a foam roller. Use a foam roller, like the Big One, to give your lower back a deep tissue massage. If you want to get even deeper, use the Tiger Ball or Curve Ball for targeted lower back massage.
Don’t forget to stretch your hamstrings, hip flexors and glutes as well! Those muscles, if tight, can rotate your pelvis too far forward or backward, putting pressure on the spine.
You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about your core…but do you know what core really means? Your core muscles are the muscles in front of, behind, and to each side of your lumbar (lower) spine. Strong core muscles support your body and take the load off your spine. Once your lower back is feeling better, add some mountain climbers and a variety of planks to your exercise regimen. Make sure to engage your core while performing these exercises to avoid straining your lower back.
Once you have a strong core, you’ll need to practice engaging it while running, lifting, or simply sitting in front of your computer at work.
I plan to stretch my hip flexors and hamstrings plus engage my core so my next half marathon is back-pain-free! How do you treat and prevent lower back pain?