How Running Can Impact Your Spine
By Sara Butler
If you’re an avid runner then kudos to you! Running can be a great way to challenge yourself both physically and mentally, but you have to make sure your running form is up to snuff if you want to avoid injuries, especially to your spine. Here is how your running form can impact your spine and what you can do to help keep injuries on the sidelines.
A High Impact Exercise
Running is a high impact sport and because of that, the faster you are the harder your foot strike will be. This repetitive movement can put a lot of stress and strain on your spine as well as your other joints. This is why, if you have issues with chronic back pain, you may need to find a different option to get your exercise fix.
How to Avoid Injury
If you find that you are experiencing back pain after running, it may not mean you have to give it up, you may just need to tweak a few things about your running form.
A good way to start is to make sure you don’t start off running at your top speed. It’s a good practice to run for a while and then work up to a pace you want to be at. This may not work in every situation, especially if you’re doing a race and want to finish in a certain amount of time, but it is a good practice for your everyday runs in order to help save your spine some stress.
Also, make sure to stretch out your hamstrings on a regular basis. Tight hamstrings can impact the tilt of your pelvis, pulling it back if they’re too tight. This can have a direct impact on your lower back and create low back pain. If you stretch your hamstrings and make sure they’re not too tight, you might be able to avoid low back pain.
Work on your core too. Most people realize it’s important to have strong leg and buttocks muscles when you run, but it’s also important to have strong abdominal muscles to help support your back. If your core isn’t strong enough you risk creating a muscle imbalance that can cause a lot of problems down the road.
Finally, make sure you’re hydrated and wear good running shoes. Also, avoid running on concrete if you can and try to run in the grass or on softer surfaces in order to reduce the force that travels up from your feet to the other joints of your body.
If you have questions about your running form, your chiropractor is an excellent resource since they are experts in not only dealing with back pain but also understanding the impact of body mechanics!