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Knees, legs, hips and feet are the usual suspects we think of when it comes to running-related injuries, but lower back pain when running can sometimes misguidedly be considered as completely unrelated. But the links between the two are indeed real, and taking care of lower back pain is key to your running longevity, playing a pivotal role in reaching your exercise potential. At WholyMe, we know that you can soothe sports-induced aches and pains by taking a mindful, holistic approach to wellbeing. Here’s how you can get effective relief for lower back pain, naturally.
Common causes of lower back pain when running
The duration, repetition and intensity of running can put a high level of stress on the back, and can trigger lower back pain due to this continual movement. If the vertebrae in your spine and the sacroiliac joints (located in the pelvis) are not functioning or moving particularly fluidly, this can create wear and tear that manifests as pain in the lower back whilst running.
Another contributing factor can be weak muscles. If your core, hips, glutes and hamstrings muscles are weak, they can also unfortunately become vulnerable to injury whilst running. The main reason for this is that your lower back has to work much harder and put more pressure on the lower back to keep you stable. Over time, this causes discomfort.
Treatments for lower back pain caused by running
Heat therapy is a natural, effective remedy for soothing lower back pain. As reported in the Harvard Health Publishing Journal, heat has been proven to provide pain relief. Try a heat wrap, heating pad or unwind and run yourself a nourishing hot bath with a generous sprinkling of Epsom salts that helps aches and pains melt away.
The naturally occurring minerals in Epsom salts (also known as magnesium sulphate) are easily absorbed by the skin when dissolved in warm water, and are traditionally reknown for their healing properties that can ease pain, reduce inflammation and improve muscle function. Sit back and pamper yourself with a detoxifying bath, soaking your limbs for at least 10 minutes, to reap the full restorative benefits, and stimulate muscle recovery.
Lower back stretches that help to strengthen both your core and the muscles that support your lower back can help to reduce overall achiness and muscular back pain. If practised regularly, these stretches can help prevent them in the first place.
After a run, try lying on your back with both feet flat, and pull your right knee towards your chest, holding for 15 seconds, and repeat with your left leg. Following this, bring both knees to your chest and hold for the same duration.
Stretches such as the plank, in repetitions for 3 to 5 reps, a few times a week can also help to relieve tightness and improve your overall flexibility.
Massage therapy, such as Swedish massage and acupuncture, can be a non-invasive, calming alternative to resolve lower back pain caused by running, and can effectively reduce tension present. In fact, a leading 2017 study by the American College of Physicians has shown it to be more effective than physical therapy. Use our Relief Balm to experience a soothing sensation on your lower back.
We’ve come a long way since ‘bed is best’ was considered as having a positive impact when treating lower back pain. In fact, it’s now widely considered that prolonged rest and avoiding any activity altogether can actually cause more harm than good.
This isn’t to say intense, strenuous activity is highly recommended, but you can ease the strain of an aching back caused by running with a spot of gentle yoga, and get some light relief. Not only does practising yoga help you to feel centred, correct posture and nurture your overall well being, but a 2017 study backed by the British Medical Journal shows evidence that yoga can successfully relieve the symptoms of lower back pain.
Positions that can be particularly beneficial for those experiencing lower back pain includes the Child’s pose – as it alleviates pressure off your lower back by aligning and elongating the spine, providing an excellent overall stretch for your lower back muscles. The Downward-Facing Dog pose is also recommended, as it’s a great stretch for reducing tension in your hamstrings and calves, which can be attributing factors to lower back pain.
To read more about the benefits of yoga for runners, see our blog here.