Top tips for running with back pain

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Running is a fantastic form of exercise and great for mental health too. But if you find that the repetitive stress and impact on your joints can lead to new or aggravated pain, it’s easy to want to throw the towel in. But that’s exactly what you shouldn’t do. 

You see, running can actually help with chronic pain and improve and strengthen your spine. All it takes is a few simple changes to your running routine to ensure that any back pain is treated, and prevented. 

Warm up thoroughly

Chronic low back pain is likely to get worse if you haven’t warmed up your body beforehand, or engaged your back, leg or core muscles. Begin with a slow walk, before working into a jog and then run. Alternatively, if you’re up to it, a few aerobic exercises like jumping jacks or skipping with a rope can help to warm you up too. 

Cool down

After a run, it’s important that you take the time to cool down – in fact, it’s just as important as warming up. Finishing your session with a gentle walk, slowly riding a bike or even doing a little bit of yoga can all help to bring your heart rate down, and flush out any lactic acid which reduces the likelihood of injury or soreness. 

Invest in proper running shoes

The type of footwear you have can also impact how comfortable you are while running. It’s recommended that you should have trainers that suit your individual biomechanics as well as appropriate socks to ensure a pain-free session. A running specialist or doctor will be able to advise on this, and you should look to replace your trainers every 250 miles. 

Improve your running form

Bad form can have a huge impact on your body and actually cause injury, instead of strengthening your muscles. When running, try to keep your chest aimed outwards while your shoulders are pushed back and relaxed. It’s also good to take smaller stride lengths compared to larger lunges forward, and make sure your arms are pumping either side of your body, instead of across it. 

Do more than just running

Over exercising one set of muscles can actually have more negative effects than positive. For this reason, mix up your exercise with cross training, strength training, bike rides, swimming, yoga and core strength workouts. That way, you can be sure that you’re working lots of different muscle groups which will keep you strong, ensure a bigger range of motion and prevent any injury. A running program can help to keep you on track and advise on alternative sessions. 


After exercising, no matter how challenging it was, it’s important to stretch off. Running uses abdominal muscles as well as those in the legs, arms, back and buttocks, so be sure to focus on all of these areas. Stretching on non-running days is important too as it helps to relieve any pressure and tension. Stretching before a run can help to activate your muscles too, again preventing injury. 

Don’t forget to rest

One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they don’t listen to their body when they experience painful symptoms. It’s important to have lots of rest periods in between your runs as well as days where you don’t run. Using ice or heat packs can also help if you’re suffering with any running injuries. 

How Life Effect can help?

If your back pain gets worse when you return to running or lasts for more than three weeks, you may need to seek professional medical advice. This is because your pain may actually be related to a soft tissue sprain or back concern like sciatica.

At Life Effect, we can determine the underlying cause of your back pain and develop a personalised care plan that will ensure you can get back to doing the things you love, pain-free, in no time. Book your free discovery visit today

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