Lower back pain

I'm training for my first half marathon which is at the end of March. As part of my training plan I run 3 - 5 miles on Tuesday and Thursday, cross train on Wednesday for 30 - 40 minutes, long run on Saturday and 3 miles recovery run on Sunday. I ran 7 miles on Saturday (yesterday) which is the longest I've ran so far with this plan. The run went well. I've noticed for a day or two that I have some pain in my lower back and my legs are a bit stiff. When I went out to run today I could ony run for a few hundred yards as my back was painful. I plan to rest and just try and run as normal on Tuesday. Has anyone got any suggestions of what exercises I can do to strengthen my back and what it may be?


  • hi Stephen, i have a similar problem, although possibly worse as i have not ran now for a week and a half due to chronic lower back pain, i am now seeing a chiropractor for treatment.
    I am running the Bath half, and then hopefully the VLM in April (back permitting)

    i am doing some back strenghening excersises as well as icing, and massage, plus chiropractic treatment.
    I have been advised not to apply heat to my back at all, just 15 mins of ice at a time, I also googled back strengthening excersises, theres plenty to look at and try.

    good luck Stephen.

  • Also, try strengthening your core....particularly trans abs. The core supports the lower back. If you're weak round the front the back will often suffer.
  • Thanks both. I saw a physio recomnended by a running friend of mine who had similar problems to me. The physio examined me and then manipulated my back and I did various exercises to help my back and legs. He said that I probably had a weak core and also that my back was slighty twisted which he said was quite common and my friend in fact had this problem as well. I managed to do some treadmill training a coupe of times since I saw the physio and he said I could do a short outdoor run today (instead of my usual long run). i ran 3 miles and I still have some pain in my lower back and one leg although it has improved. I will be continuing with the exercises and also hope to resume my training on Tuesday but will play it by ear and my physio has said I can ring him or see him if necessary.
  • soun like you are onte w to recovery , just take it slow, an you will get there i am sure.

    the twiste back thing, that was / is my problm and my chiropractor said that the badly pulled hamstring has not helped my back at all, so i will percivere with the treatments and excercises and keep my fingers crossed

     Tigerlily, thanks for the advice/ comments regarding core weakness and problems, i also guess that is another problem i must have , so must work on and strenghten,

    Good luck to you both with your training/ running.


  • bad spell day or what ?? in that last post.

    so sorry didn't check, new key pad i think is required !!! or a new typist lol

  • Your running posture is also very important. You will find a lot of people head chase or bend from the hip. Try running with a good upright posture. Decrease your stride a bit. I had the a similar problem and now run and coach minimalist and barefoot running and I am managing marathons no problem
  • I know this sounds crazy but it can be linked to IBS sometimes - a friend of mine realised she had it after back pain - then the other symptoms all started adding up in her head and the doc said it was IBS. Don't know if that's any help?
  • Good posture as per Dale's post is essential - not just when running but in everyday life - particularly if you are desk bound at work! If your lower back pain is due to weaknesses in key areas, beware of going minimalist/BF before ensuring you are as strong in core/glutes and as stable at your pelvis as possible. BF/minimalist running will magnify any weaknesses you have and possibly cause more pain until you are as bio-mechanically sound as you can get.
  • Your posture is important, be it running posture or everyday posture. If you have a back problem and you have a curve or twist in the spine you should see your GP for a referral to an Orthopaedic Consultant. Curved or twisted spines left untreated will cause you problems. If your pelvis is tilted because your spine is twisted, then one leg can appear shorter than the other. It may not be actually shorter, but get your spine checked out properly before you get any other treatment would be my advice.
  • Hi Stephen, we represent an osteopath who sees a lot of runners, so can hopefully give you a few useful pointers.

    As previous posters have correctly pointed out, good posture is essential. Poor posture in everyday life places tension on muscles, ligaments and particularly discs. If you put your back under this pressure on a day-to-day basis through poor posture, then your body is less able to accommodate increased physical demands which can lead to back pain/injuries when you run run.

    You mentioned that you experienced pain after running further than you have before, so it certainly sounds like this increase in activity coupled with poor posture could have contributed to your pain. If your discs haven’t been strained through poor posture in everyday life then they will be healthier and more absorbing when running which, as you know is an incredibly repetitive and high impact sport.

    Good posture both day-to-day and when running can help to strengthen your back rather than weaken it, but consciously changing your posture can be really difficult after years of moving the way that you do. This has led Adam, the osteopath, to invent a product called PosturePlast (www.postureplast.co.uk) which is an adhesive support for the lower back.

    By keeping your back in its 'safe zone', it promotes good posture on a day to day basis, keeping your back healthy and making it more able to absorb the impact of running. PosturePlast can also be worn during running/exercise so keep your back in the correct position during these activities.

    PosturePlast works to help retrain your posture in the long term, so may be worth giving a go if you are still suffering.

    Hope this helps and if you have any questions let me know!
  • What many people don't realize is that there are lot os muscles and ligamants in your lower back. If don't keep these in shape, they tend not to perform their function of keep your lower back stable well.

    If you are not walking as a part of yopur exercise routine, walk. This is a great exercise for your lower back. Keep a nice posture and walk at a good speed to allow for ample hip movement. It is this movemen that actually exercises the musles of  the lower back and this will strenghthen your lower back stabillity.

    Stay away from running for just a bit and do some lower impact exercising. You may have some swelling that you are exacerbating each time your run. If the pain begins to move lower than the small of your back, that means the problem is getting worse and you need to see a physician.

    You can also try something call AposTherapy, which does wonders for lower backs and is non-invasive. Works with your walking regimen.

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  • i have pulled muscle in my lower back never had it so bad hope i am better soon
  • Thanks for all the advice everyone. I have seen my GP who said he though it was caused by tight hamstrings. My physio doesn't agree though and I am seeing him again in a week's time. I went for a short run today (2.4 miles) and ran a bit slower than I normally run. I warmed up more than usual before running and also did a lot of stretching and lower back exercises after the run. I must confess that often I haven't done  much stretching after a run and I don't think this has helped. My back is definitely improving. A close running friend of mine also suggested that I check how my posture is when running and I have tried to ensure today that I have ran evenly and with an upright posture and this seems to have worked. I will be mentioning about posture to my physio when I see him. I will also ask him about my twisted back. I am desk bound at work but I now try and sit up straight and also take regular breaks away from my desk.
  • I have just noticed that I hadn't explained that my GP said that I have a slightly twisted back but that it isn't a problem. He advised me to do hamstring stretching exercises! As my physio helped me when I saw him a few weeks ago and as two friends have been helped by him I am hoping that when I see him again he wil be able to help me further as I was a bit disappointed with my GP to be honest. In the meantime, I am continuing to do lower back, core strengthening and hamstring exercises. I also plan to do more running but at a fairly slow pace and also cross-training at the gym. Unfortunately, I am having to pull out of the half marathon at the end of March as my training is now too off track.

  • I think you're right to keep up with the core work Steve. Lower back exercises? Remember - your lower back is actually supported by your core - thats where you need to target strengthening. If you are desk bound - try stretching your psoas major muscles - google it, it's an easy stretch to do and I've found it very effective if performed correctly. You tube has some good videos to coach you through it. When you sit for long period this muscle can shorten/tighten and pull your pelvis forward - (anterior pelvic tilt) - causing lower back pain. Exercises I've found invaluable in strengthening core are planks & side planks and also if your psoas ARE tight you may also find your glutes are weak. Try shoulder bridges with pelvic tilt - really effective for working the glutes (you have to really push up with the glutes to do it.) I think Im going to pull out of my half at the end of March too image
  • Thanks for the suggestionsTigerlily. I've been doing planks (amongst other exercises) for a few days and they are very helpful. Which half were you doing? Mine was the Stafford.
  • I'm in the Coniston 14 - I'm hoping I may be able to bimble round it - we'll see! image
  • Stephen,

    I've had a lower back problem for years that has got worse recently due to uping the mileage.

     Been to the GP, had x-rays and discs appear ok. Osteopath diagnosed an inflamed sacrofilic joint after a very painful xc run.

     I've bought an inversion table, and although I've only been using it for a few weeks it seems to help.

  • I'd be interested in any ideas which don't involve core work!

    I've had a lower back problem which has progressivly gotten worse for a year and a half now. I have no idea what caused it and I was referred to a physio last year in September. He said I needed to "join the back class" which was a poor attempt at pilataes (seriously, even I could have given better instructions and I haven't done a pilataes class for 3 years!)

    I did manage to really improve my posture- I can now do quad stretches for 60 seconds a leg -stopped only becuase thats how long I stretch for, on the wobble board, no hands, no glaring at the same fixed point and keep the whole thing stable (among other things!). Though I am pleased with my massive progress, since october when I mastered this, the pain has not gone away and if anything has gotten worse.

    I notice it the most when and after I cycle.

    I was referred to an arthritis specialist to see if that was the problem, she said it "couldn't be at your age" then I explained I had a hypermobile spine, she tested this and then one arm/elbow (no issues with my armss she just wanted to test it didn't bend backwards), said I only was hypermobile in my back and nowhere else and that this was not the problem (why I don't know). She then decided it must be osteoperosis. I have a diagnosis of osteoperina (not osteoperosis) 1 year prior and its in my upper spine, my hips and lower back are fine so again I argued as that made no sense and she agreed it didn't make sense but seemed to want to make this diagnosis (ie "its not my problem I don't know enough"), she did on my request send me for an MRI scan which apparently showed up fine, I am at a loss as to the issue.

    I just want to walk without feeling pain! I have no idea what I have done and why it wont go away but it is getting worse to the point where some nights it keeps me awake, would welcome anyone who has similar experiences or ideas on what it could be as so far nothing seems to help.

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