If you are a runner, chances are you have experienced back pain at some point. Your pain may not have resulted from running, but research shows that 70% of the general population has at least one episode of back pain in their lifetime. The repetitive nature of running – amplifying and exacerbating any mechanical dysfunction – puts runners at risk.
If this sounds like you, take notes – but first make sure you have been cleared by your physician and/or physical therapist before returning to training.
Following a back injury it is crucial to prepare the back and hips for the stresses of running. This includes both strength and mobility. To start, try these three exercises to get back into running shape:
Steady progression: A good rule of thumb is to progress a training regime no more than 10% a week. Keep in mind this applies to one variable at a time, so don’t increase your running duration, speed, distance, and terrain all at once. Start by alternating 2 minutes of walking with 2 minutes of jogging for ~2 miles. Then progress to 2 min walking with 3 minutes jogging, etc. After progressing to jogging for 2 miles, alternate between jogging and running.
Low-impact training: You can quickly improve your fitness while letting your back rest by cross training with low-impact activities. Try the elliptical, cycling, or swimming to mix it up during the week – your back will appreciate this.
Remember that returning to running takes time and patience! For specific guidance, consult with your local Therapeutic Associates physical therapist to get started on a program that meets your needs and gets you the most out of your training!