Running and pain in the lumbar spine

CLBehDid you decide that you want to start doing some sport, and you choosed running? Are you a regular runner and you already have some tens or hundreds of kilometers/miles in your feet? Or you are starting to run again after a longer pause? It doesn’t matter in what physical condition you are. It is important to learn a correct running technique and prevent any unpleasant problems and pain.

One of the most common problems troubling not only runners, is unpleasant spine pain, usually in the area of the lower back. We do not recommend to ignore it and hope that it will fade away by itself. At first it may appear that it is nothing serious but with more time it changes to a chronic problem, and it will make your life unpleasant permanently. So why not avoid it in the beginning within the preventive measures?


CLBehaniOne of the best things you can do is to slightly increase the tempo, in order for your body to get used to it. It’s not worth it to set absurd goals after first running, it will only demotivate you, and cause you completely pointless injury or muscle pain.

Keep exercising and work on your core strength, your trunk and muscles in the pelvic area and hip joints. If you develop a strong deep stabilizing system of the spine (Core), you won’t have nearly any problems. And at least you will prevent the chance of getting injured in the area of lumbar spine or in any other soft tissues.

Use a correct running technique and watch out on where you step with your foot. Running style is very important, because it should not lead to overloading in your lower back and consequently to pain. When we run, we should never land our feet on our heels, because that increases the risk of catatonic and bent trunk, which is not desirable. Ideally you should land on the middle of your foot, slightly towards your toes. But not too much, otherwise your metatarsal bones, Achilles tendons and knees will be under big pressure.

Before and after each running we recommend you to not forget to do a regular and thorough stretching in order to regenerate. Stretching will secure a correct position for your pelvis and trunk during running.

Exercising legsPlank on forearmsCrunch BOSU


It is clear that during running, legs play a key role, because they secure the spreading of the impacts evenly on the whole body. So they mainly protect our lower back before damage. The lumbar spine itself is able to deal with deal with the impact to a certain degree. But sometimes during incorrect running style it may not be able to bear the strength of the impacts, and it has to warn us this way. It will warn us through pain and consequently the whole lower back will be blocked, in order to not continue in the damage in form of pain in the hips, knees, stabbing pain in the side or ribs, tingling in the legs.

Activating DiaphragmRelaxing thoracolumbar spine


Our spine is composed of 34 vertebrae, in between which are 23 intervertebral discs. These elastic tissues create a bumping zone between two neighboring vertebrae. Discs serve for distributing the pressure from the impacts on the spine and at the same time they connect the vertebrae. Important function of the spine is to enable us to walk straight and protect the spinal cord. The lumbar area represents important pathway for nerves of the pelvis and legs.



Mentioned important parts of our body need to be protected and we should not burden them with incorrect movement. Especially during running is the lower back incorrectly burdened. This burden is then manifested with mentioned unpleasant pain. The reasons may be several. The main one is increasing the burden without incorrect stretching, exercising without regeneration.

Big mistake is also a sudden and too big change in the burden. Needless starters of the painful problems are also wrong shoes and unsuitable terrain. It can happen in situation when we run into a hill or from a hill down. We also should not forget muscle imbalance, especially in the lumbar area, pelvis, hip and knee joints. We also put emphasis on deepness of breathing and direction of the breath as well as intra-abdominal pressure, which protects the overloading of the deep stabilizing system and enables optimal distribution of the pressure and tension in the joints, muscles and tendons on the trunk and also in the limbs.

All that can be the reason of the pain. Focus on the thorough stretching and your running technique, and keep exercising your muscles. Because incorrect movement is often ineffective and maybe even worse than no movement at all. Therefore, if you find a time for yourself, and you are willing and determined that you want to improve your condition, it would be a pity to do it incorrectly

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Author: FYZIOklinika physiotherapy Ltd., Prague, Czech Republic
Source: Clinical experience from private practice in physiotherapeutic field, FYZIOklinika

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