How to treat back pain caused by running

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Category: Health and Medicine

In your drive to be healthy, you may be doing damage to your back. Thanks to Bury St Edmunds Chiropractor Jasper Hulsher we have a few simple exercises you can ease any back pain caused by running.

Running is good for you, or at least it should be, but in our drive to lose weight or be healthy, we may be doing unintentional damage to our back. Back pain or discomfort is a problem which runners often face, and often ignore. But this pain is your body’s way of telling you that something needs to change.

Whether the aches come from the upper back, lower back, or sacroiliac joint (SI joint), taking the time to correct your posture can make a significant difference. The alignment exercises below are designed to improve the nerve supply from your brain to your back muscles, and can be done every day, to make running feel good again.

Hip rolls

This exercise benefits your side and deeper stomach muscles. A lack of rotation in the hips puts unnecessary pressure on them, which impacts the SI joint (where the two dimples are in your lower back).

  • Lie on the floor, on your back
  • Extend your arms sideways, lifting your legs up with your knees bend at a right angle and your thighs at a right angle to your torso
  • Roll your legs to one side until your knees touch the floor, but don’t rest them on the floor
  • Use your side muscles to lift your leg back into the central position and then repeat on the other side.

Wall angels

This is a good exercise for your upper back and shoulders, which can become hunched and rounded (especially if you work at a desk), placing additional strain on the spine when you run.

  • Stand with your back against a wall or door.
  • Put your arms at right angles against the wall, with your shoulders, elbows and hands touching the wall.
  • Straighten and extend your arms until your thumbs touch, keeping your arms in contact with the wall at all times.


This exercise strengthens your back and therefore your overall posture. How difficult you find this exercise will indicate where your problem areas are (if you find lifting your legs difficult, your glutes are probably weakened. If your find lifting your arms hard, the problem is in your upper back or shoulders)

  • Lie on your stomach on the floor
  • Lift your left leg and right arm off the floor simultaneously and then lower them
  • Repeat with the right leg and left arm

Postural alignment

This is less an exercise, more a way to get to know how good your posture is. This will show you where you are likely to develop pain when running.

  • Stand with your back against a wall or door
  • Tilt your head up and down until the corner of your eye lines up with the middle of your ear
  • Ensure that you have a straight vertical line from the middle of your ear, middle of your shoulder, hip joint, knee and lateral malleolus (bony prominence on the outside of your ankle)
  • Tilt your pelvis to reduce the gap between your lower back and the wall (but do not flatten your back against the wall)
  • Move slightly away from the wall while trying to maintain this posture. Do not hold your breath while doing this exercise.

Good mornings

This exercise works your back muscles and the back of your thighs, improving hip mobility, hamstring flexibility and back strength.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart from each other, holding a weight in each hand. The weights should be resting against your thighs with your palms facing towards your thighs
  • Keep your legs straight and bend down from your hips, lowering the weights towards the floor. Keep your back straight and head up to prevent your shoulders from rounding.
  • Squeeze your buttock muscles and lift up to the standing position


Your stomach muscles need to be exercised as well so that they support the back muscles. You cannot have a good posture without strong stomach muscles

  • Lie on your back on the floor and place your hands next to your temples
  • Breathe in
  • In a slow controlled movement so you use your stomach muscles rather than momentum, lift your head and shoulders off the floor and breathe out
  • Hold the top position for a second
  • Lower back to the floor