Back pain is a common issue and can come about via both being active and inactive. Lower back pain in runners is not necessarily from running but may also be from poor posture from sitting in front of a computer all day.
Publish research suggests that back pain in athletes is less common than in the general population. This same study looked at runners in isolation and found no correlation between miles ran and lower back pain.
Whilst this is certainly good news for runners who don’t suffer from back pain this isn’t much help to those that currently suffer from it. Lower back pain is often brought about by a lack of hip mobility and incorrect core stability. Since the word core is often thrown about willy nilly it is important to understand what we actually mean by core in this case.
One of the most important parts of the core that contribute to back pain is the hips. Runners often suffer from a lack of hip mobility and are therefore not as flexible as they ought to be. It is believed that poor hip mobility coupled with tight hamstrings can lead the pelvis rotating out of its natural alignment and thus increasing the strain on the spine.
Poor form when running can also contribute to lower back pain, although it is recommended to see an expert who can properly diagnose form issues and teach you corrective exercises to solve the problem. Often times it will take specific exercises in order to correct form and it is not something that will correct by itself.
Each individual is different and there is not one exercise that will solve back pain for everybody. One person’s back pain may be causes by flexibility issues and another might be due to muscle imbalances for example.
Hill workouts can often exacerbate an existing back problem, this is due to the increased arm drive and forward lean you utilise when trying to run up a hill. You can try excluding these types of workouts from your training schedule to see whether or not your situation improves.
You can also try insoles or even a completely different type of shoe. This can change the support mechanisms and the movement patterns of your hips. Arch support and even heel to toe angles can change significantly depending on these factors and can help alleviate lower back pain.
Whilst running will definitely lead to a healthier and fitter you it is important to realise that it is just one part of it. You will need to incorporate mobility and strength training into your training program in order to maximise the health benefits and to make sure your body is operating as it should be.