Back Pain and Running

Ask the PTJill Murphy, DPT, LAT, CSCS

Question: With a back injury, will I ever be able to run again, or should I quit running, like many people have suggested?

Answer: For the overwhelming majority of people with low back pain, the answer to this question is a resounding NO! Other than an advanced case of spinal stenosis and perhaps some post-surgical limitations, being active and healthy by working out, including running, will only assist your body in the healing process. When being treated initially for low back pain, you may only wish to walk as your chosen aerobic exercise. As your spine motion improves and your pain lessens, and after some work on your flexibility, strengthening, and stabilization exercises, running can be an excellent adjunct to your on-going back pain management and injury prevention plan. After running, be sure to perform your stretching exercises, and ice to make sure your pain doesn’t return. Return to running slowly, letting your body guide you in how far and how fast you can go, using a common sense progression of 10% per week as long as you remain pain-free. Also remember to cross-train as you get back into a running routine to give your body rest as it re-acclimates to pounding the pavement, trail, or treadmill.


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