Lower Back Pain While Running

I'm sat on the sofa feeling very frustrated after attempting 6 x 800m reps as part of my Brighton marathon training, but only managing 2 reps due to lower back pain.

I'm a social runner and have been running 25+ plus miles a week prior to starting the FIRST marathon training plan 3 weeks ago. Everything has been going well and have been feeling confident about the Brighton marathon until the dreaded lower back pain hit me. It first got me on Tuesday evening while doing a 7 mile tempo run but managed to get round at the required pace. I've been out this evening to do my 800m reps and after mile or so I could feel the pain creeping up on me. Managed to do 2 reps and thought I'd be better off getting myself home and logging onto the Runners World forum than attempting the remaining 4 reps in pain. The pain is only there while running, it goes instantly when I walk/sit down etc.

I've had this pain before (around a year ago) but it disappeared after a 6 weeks or so. I can't afford to wait 6 weeks for the pain to go this time as it will severely impact on my marathon training.

Does anyone have ideas as to what the pain could be caused by and how I can reduce/get rid of it? I've read that it may be due to a weak core, if so what are the most effective exercises to build up the core associated with the lower back?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 







  • JohnasJohnas ✭✭✭
    It's almost definitely a weak core. You need to do core strength (plenty of articles on Internet) and also stretching is key (not just a cursory calf stretch for 10 seconds post run!). Lower back pain is usually associated with tight hip flexors so focus on stretching these everyday
  • Thanks for the advice Johnas. I've picked some core strength exercises from the internet which I'll start this evening and will be doing an extensive stretching session before each run. Fingers crossed.

  • I agree that tight muscles cause strain on the back.  Mine is due to tight hamstrings.

    If you want to minimise down time then get a sports massage so that you know exactly what is causing the problem.  They should also be able to tell you which stretches and exercises are good for your specific problem.

  • Stretch after a run, not before. Warm up is gentle mobilisation of the joints. Stretching is for after, can be hours after even and hold them for 30 -60 seconds,

  • Tight hip flexors and glutus medius are the most common culprits for 'niggly' low back pain.  Next likely is hamstrings/glut max and rectus femoris muscles.  Best thing would be deep tissue/ sports massage for those.  Next best thing - stretch them!  Weak core will defineatly not help and its a good idea to do those exercises as well - start with basic exercises and slowly increase intensities. 

  • Hi i have done a similar thing myself and still not any better after 7 months and 3 physios later, l do lumbar exersises and core exersises as the physio told me my core was too weak due to too much running, go and seek medical or physio advice before you do any more damage and cut your mileage back until you seek advice, hope this helps and good luck!!!

  • I'm in the middle of training for Blackpool marathon and 2 weeks ago my back went (lower back) for no apparent reason. I saw the physio 3 days ago who said I have a weak core as others have said and gave me excercises to strengthen it.

    I also in the past have suffered with lower back pain when running but usually when I haven't run for a while and I'm carrying more weight which seems to be the same cause. 

  • Hi there,

    The question I would ask is what is the root cause of your back pain? Why do some people get it and some not?

    It seems to have come on because of you running but many people run long distances and don't have any problems so to remove this we need to work out what is going on specifically in your body which is causing you these problems.

    Remember, pain is the body's way of telling us that something is not right. Often when people have back pain it's because there is some imbalance in your posture. It could be your knees or foot, meaning you strike the ground in an unnatural way when you walk or run. Stand in front of the mirror and see if your feet and also your knee caps point straight ahead or do they face in or outwards at an angle. 

    They should point straight ahead. Them being at an angle is often the cause of problems as it means the joint is not opening and closing naturally when running and can strain the surrounding ligaments, muscles and meniscus in the knee, which will in turn effect the force which goes through your hip, to your pelvis and then your lower back which sits on your pelvis.

    Another likely cause could be an imbalance in your pelvis. Your pelvis is so important because it acts as the gateway between your legs and back, and because it gives the foundation for your spine. Perhaps one side of your pelvis is more anterior than the other, or it is rotated. This would mean that the impact would not be spread evenly each time your leg lands on the ground and it could effect the surrounding musculature which has to try and stabilise and compensate for this in your back area. Those muscles would then overwork and fatigue and send out a distress signal (pain) saying stop doing what you are doing please!

    It could also be the shape of your curve in your lower ot upper back. Your spine is meant to be a spring which distributes forces efficiently. If you've got some issue with your spinal curves that can cause pain too.

    It's worth remembering that yes massage, and rest, and stretching will help short-term, but you want to find a permanent solution to the problem. I have a great deal of respect for physios too, but are they looking at the root cause or just the showing symptom? Lots of people run everyday and have no problems, so is it really an overuse issue and if so, why? Or is it that because of some imbalances within your body, certain muscles or tissues in your back are working harder than they should, and so in effect are being overused and the body is telling you to back off using pain.You could quit running but then eventually the new sport you take up will cause you problems as your haven't addressed the root cause.

    I'm a Postural Alignment Specialist in the Egoscue Method. Its a form of Postural Alignment Therapy which uses targeting streching and strengthening exercises to get your body back to it's natural alignment so it can function pain free. 

    Not sure if you are in London but if you are I'd be more than happy to give you a free half hour postural assessment and tell you what i think is going on with you. No strings attached. If at the end of the assessment i run through my findings and what i suggest and you agree, feel free to book a session with me, and i can run through a series of exercises that i think would help solve the problem permanently. If you didn't agree with my findings and suggestions, or even if you did but you don't fancy continuing then that would be fine too, no questions asked.

    You can find out more on my website www.healththroughposture.com

    If you aren't in London try doing a search for Postural Alignment Specialists in your area using the Egoscue Method.

    Take care and if you have any questions feel free

  • osteopathy is the best way of relieving back pain.
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