Back pain is a common symptom of heavy exercise especially for a fitness addict or a marathon runner. The physical pain is unavoidable. The mental anguish a runner might suffer is consequential.
“We have several cases where the runners find it difficult to run because of pain. They start questioning why it happened to them despite being fit and active,” says Dr. Rishita Shah, Senior Spine Specialist, QI Spine Clinic.
Back pain originates due to a weak core which puts excess pressure on the runner’s spine. Inadequate hydration, lack of training and wrong running posture can also cause pain.
“It may seem counter intuitive but running can actually be good for your spine if done in the right manner with adequate training and medical guidance,” adds Dr Shah.
Simple tips for running safely especially for marathon participants suffering from back pain:
Check with a spine specialist before running
When running, we use a majority of our spine muscles. Runners usually consult only trainers while going on a fitness or strengthening regime. However, a single weak core muscle can cause severe pain. It is essential that you get medical clearance from a spine specialist before you start training.
Core strengthening and lower limb training
Patients suffer from chronic back pain because their core muscles are not adequately strengthened. Therefore, one must follow a medically guided programme to strengthen core and lower limb.
Warm up and cool down
Pre-run warm up and post run cooling down stretches are both equally important to relieve excess pressure in your spine muscles. This will reduce the risk of a spine or sports injury.
Just as a stress test is to your heart, so is a spine function test for your spine. Digital Spine Analysis (DSA) analyses the strength, flexibility and mobility of your muscle groups and accurately pinpoints the weak ones. This will enable you to work on your specific muscles more effectively.
Use shock absorbing footwear
Wearing running shoes with mid soles or gel soles will absorb the compression for a rigid surface thereby reducing pressure on your knee joints and back.
Brace your back
A back-belt or back brace will support your spine while walking, standing or running. However, if you are competing in a marathon, a back-belt could slow you down. For marathoners, it is advisable that they wear a corsette or track pants with a mid-support belt.
Pain is your STOP sign
Pain is a red signal. Pain in your back, arms or legs while running is a sign that you must visit a spine specialist immediately. Treating the root cause of your pain on time is the only way to get back on your feet.
(Disclaimer: The writer is Dr Rishita Shah, Senior Spine Specialist, QI Spine Clinic. Views expressed are personal opinion.)