For the last several weeks I have been plagued by a low-hum of lower back pain…not enough to keep me off the road, but just bad enough to make running (and other activities), uncomfortable. This is not the first time I’ve had this trouble and in fact, nearly two-thirds of all adults experience this type of lower back pain at some point in their lives. If you run, there’s a high degree of likelihood that the source of this trouble is mechanical in its origins and a diagnosis of lumbar sprain or strain is very likely.
Causes of Lumbar Sprain / Strain in Runners
Most common causes are “form related”:
• Weak abdominals
• Poor flexibility in the hamstrings, calves, back
• Poor posture when running, sitting and standing
Some examples of poor form that can cause this type of pain include hunched, stooped over, leaning forward form when running, too much curve in the lower back (the “sitting position “) when running, and pelvic tilt (anterior or lateral).
Additionally, increasing the distance or the intensity of your workouts too rapidly can also cause this kind of trouble.
So, what to do when back pain strikes?
First, if you can tolerate them, consider using an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen during the first few days. I know a number of runners who regularly pop and Advil® before a long run and they swear by it.
Second, do as much of your normal activity as you can without being too uncomfortable. Bed rest is not necessarily effective in the treatment of lumbar sprain/strain.
Finally, address the issue in your training before it comes up again. Proper conditioning of the muscles in the problem areas can prevent reoccurrence. You may want to seek the advice of a personal trainer or exercise physiologist to ensure that you are training your muscle with proper form.
• Sit ups
• Back extensions
• Hamstring curls
• Lunges and squats
• Knee extensions
• Leg presses
While statistically 75% of all lower back pain cases are due to lumbar back sprain/strain, be aware of symptoms that may indicate a more serious condition. These include bladder or bowel problems, pain down the backs of your legs, persistent pain over a period of weeks, unexplained weight loss or fever. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your health care practitioner immediately.
Source: SportsMed Web