Running is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise for your body. It’s a full-body workout that makes primary use of your core and lower body muscles. Furthermore, compared to many other full-body workouts, it doesn’t require additional equipment. No treadmill? No problem.
Not only does it help build musculoskeletal strength and endurance, but it also improves your cardiovascular system as well as your mental health. Some of the most common benefits of running include:
- Strengthens muscles
- Burns calories
- Helps maintain a healthy weight
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Reduces stress
While there are various health benefits to running, it’s not uncommon to battle acute injuries or develop chronic conditions due to the repetitive motion over an extended period of time. In fact, according to Yale Medicine, at least half of all runners get injured every year.
Injuries in the lower extremities are often associated with running. However, most runners will deal with a back injury from running at some point in their lives. And, those with poor posture will find themselves at even more risk of suffering a back injury from running.
This article will detail common running injuries as well as some of the best ways to treat them.
What Are the Most Common Types of Back Injuries?
For many people, running is a routine important to their quality of life. Whether it’s for health improvements, to look/feel better, or simply for fun, runners will often log hundreds to thousands of miles under their feet every year.
However, these repetitive motions certainly take a toll on your body’s muscles and joints. Many will be quick to note leg and ankle injuries such as sprains or twists. While these injuries are common, an often overlooked area of the body that can be injured from the stress of running is the back.
On top of being the center support structure for your entire body, your back also houses your spine which acts as your body’s main shock absorber. The discs in your spine work with the spine’s natural curvature to reduce the stress and pressure running places on your body. When worked too hard, these discs—as well as the muscles and tendons that surround the spine—can become damaged and deteriorate over time.
- Facet joint syndrome: Facet joints are the joints in the spine that provide flexibility for the vertebrae in the spine. They are cartilaginous joints that allow the spine to turn or bend with movement and ensure they don’t overextend. Facet joint syndrome occurs when these joints become overworked and receive extra wear and tear that breaks down cartilage and changes the joint over time. It can become extremely painful and limit your range of movement.
- Sacroiliac dysfunction: Often referred to as SI joint pain, sacroiliac dysfunction refers to a condition where one or both of the firm joints at the base of the spine and pelvis become inflamed. SI joints have very little movement and instead provide your body stability performing movements such as running. SI joint pain can range in severity from mild to debilitating.
- Myofascial pain syndrome: This is a chronic back pain condition wherein pressure on sensitive muscles causes pain that can also extend to other parts of the body. This normally occurs when the muscle has been contracted repeatedly due to overuse and is most common in repetitive activities such as running. Myofascial pain syndrome typically persists or worsens over time.
- Lower extremity issues: These types of back injuries don’t just occur in a vacuum. Because the back is connected to areas of the body like the hips, legs, and feet, back injuries can also result in lower extremity pain such as in the joints of the knee or hip.
What Causes a Back Injury from Running?
As you can see, back injuries from running are just as impactful to one’s quality of life as issues with the legs or feet. Not only that, back injuries can contribute to or directly cause injuries in other extremities.
The cause is often more than simply the repetitive nature of running. A person’s posture often plays a significant role in how injury-prone they may be and how severe injuries are when they occur.
You may have heard that proper running form is important. This is true as it allows nerves to better flow from your brain to your muscles and joints, and facilitates natural movement of your muscles and joints.
Proper posture is key to proper running form as your posture is involved in how you naturally maintain and carry your entire body. When running, we utilize what is called the cross-crawl pattern. Without proper posture and running form, you will likely place excessive or uneven stress on certain parts of your body—making them much more prone to injury.
Pelvic and thoracic position matter as well. Your torso makes up about 60% of your entire body’s weight. That means that if your pelvis or ribcage is shifted to the side or moves forwards or backward than they would be naturally, it can cause the sacroiliac joints to receive excess wear and tear due to the uneven amount of pressure being placed upon them.
Uneven and unbalanced pressure causes the spine to deteriorate over time. Luckily, there are chiropractic treatments that can help if you have a back injury from running.
How To Treat a Back Injury from Running
While some injuries may require you to take extended time off from running, some acute injuries may only keep you off your feet for a short period.
Depending on the injury, you may have to seek professional medical care. Either way, you’ll likely want to consider a combination of these treatments.
- Rest: One of the most important things that you can do when you experience an injury is to rest the affected area. Muscles and tissues repair more effectively while they are at rest. Not only that, but you’ll also want to take care not to reinjure the area by exerting force upon it while it heals. It’s also important to know that sometimes our bodies can overcompensate for the injured area which can often result in injuring another part of the body. Therefore, it’s best to be patient and take it easy.
- Heat therapy: Heat application is often recommended to alleviate pain in an injured area. The application of heat to an injured area can also speed up the healing process. This is because heat therapy increases blood flow to the muscles which results in more oxygen, white blood cells, and essential nutrients reaching the injured area.
- Pain/Anti-inflammatory medication: Medications can be good at masking the pain of an injury. However, people should be careful not to use pain medication to continue running as this can cause the injury to become more severe.
- Chiropractic care: Chiropractic care can make use of a variety of techniques such as massages and adjustments to alleviate immediate pain associated with a back injury from running. It can also offer many other benefits such as training your body to maintain proper posture, thereby mitigating the risk of injury in the future.
You may often see ice therapy recommended as a treatment for back injuries. However, while ice therapy can reduce inflammation and cause pain to temporarily subside, it also reduces circulation to the area and can potentially slow down the healing process. This has caused ice therapy’s use as a treatment for injuries to be contentious and not often recommended.
While many of these treatment options can help you heal, some will not offer long-term prevention of running injuries. This is why we recommend chiropractic care for runners as it will help them to maintain proper posture and running form—lessening their risk of injury.
The improved posture from chiropractic care can also enhance your performance and make you a better runner.
Benefit of Corrective Chiropractic Care for Runners
Spinal alignment and the improved posture that comes with it can maximize your body coordination and weight balance. It will also bring improvements to your body’s biomechanics because the system is aligned, circulating, and communicating optimally. This translates to more muscle strength and coordination of your legs with less wear and tear.
When chiropractic care improves your posture, you’ll see an increase in some of the factors that can give you a competitive edge as a runner such as:
- Increased muscle strength
- Increased coordination
- Improved breathing
- Better mental clarity and faster reaction times
- Less pain and injuries
While it’s evident that runners can benefit from chiropractic care, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan that will maximize benefits. Every person’s ideal and current spinal alignment is unique. That’s why the best chiropractic care plans with the best results are tailored to a runner’s individual needs.
Chiropractic BioPhysics® Makes You a Better, Healthier Runner
Improving your posture can not only mitigate the risk of sustaining a back injury from running, but it can also prevent injuries in your other extremities and make you a much better runner. The team at PostureWorks understands this and it’s why we use Chiropractic BioPhysics® (CBP) to create a comprehensive treatment plan to get runners balanced.
With CBP, we chart your medical history and use a biometric analysis of your spine and posture to gain a crystal clear understanding of your spine’s unique curvature and your postural needs. With this knowledge, we craft a customized treatment plan that utilizes postural exercises, neuromuscular re-education and spinal alignment traction to realign your spine and train your body to hold its ideal posture so that you can run faster, farther, and without fear of injury.
Contact us today to learn more about how posture affects your running ability or to schedule your appointment with PostureWorks.
Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function while eliminating the source of pain and circulatory and nervous dysfunction. CBP is conservative, evidence-based, and non-invasive.