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Running and Your Back

By Paul Rothbart

It is estimated that 60 million people in the U.S. engage in running. It's a very effective form of exercise. It's excellent for the cardiovascular system, burns calories, and works the lower body muscles. It can also be good for mental health. There something Zen about being out in the fresh air, focusing on the rhythm of your stride, and breathing. Add a little music, and it can be a very enjoyable experience. Like any form of exercise, running does put some stress on the body. It can be tough on the back. Here are some facts on how running affects the back. 

Running Impacts the Lower Back

Like any repetitive activity, running causes stress on certain parts of the body. With each stride, the feet hit the pavement with a fair amount of force. This naturally places stress on the feet, but that shock travels through the ankles, up to the knees, and finally to the hips and lower back. Research has shown that the spine is incrementally, but measurably shorter, after a run. This is due to compression of the discs from the force of the strides. The faster and longer you run, the more compression. After the run, the spine normally decompresses, but there can be pain and there are factors that can make the compression worse. 

Minimize Compression

Running with proper form will minimize the compression of the spine and prevent it from becoming a permanent injury. Always warm up with stretching, walking, and some light jogging. Run with the head up and the back straight. Leaning forward and curving the back will place extra strain on the discs. Take stride of a comfortable length, let your body do what it does naturally. Keep strides regular, getting into a steady rhythm. Quality running shoes with good arch support that are firm but flexible will also be very helpful in reducing compression.

See a Chiropractor

When it comes to compression of the spine, you can't do much better than see a chiropractor. Regular visits can be one of the most helpful things a runner can do. During each visit, a chiropractor can find the problems and adjust them, keeping the spine in good shape. Any issues with the knees or other joints can also be adjusted. The stresses of running may be minimized by regular chiropractic care and enable you to keep putting in those miles.

Running is excellent exercise and can be quite enjoyable. It does place stress on the body, including the back. With proper form and good gear, that stress can be managed. Seeing chiropractic can also be quite beneficial. If you are a runner, think about dropping by The Joint Chiropractic. It just might be the key to avoiding much of the potential pain some runners experience.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in McKinney, Tex.

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