26 March 2023

Lower Back Pain

Guest post by Max Roger

Lower back pain can hit seemingly at random times, and take you out of training. In extreme situations you’ll struggle to sit at work, or never mind bend over to tie your running shoes up early in the morning!

This article will look at 2 things:

1. What causes it?
2. How to fix it.

    Here we go:

    1. What causes lower back pain?

      Looking at the general reason for runners, it’s training, sitting, and stress.
      Different running styles put differnt pressure through your back. Forefoot running decreases the load going through your lower back, but most people tend to be heel-strikers instead. Heel-striking puts more load through your lower back, which leads to it getting stiffer, and then triggering pain.

      Sitting doesn’t help either. When you sit your hips tighten up over time. This pulls your pelvis out of position, tightening your lower back, which can trigger pain. I’m not saying don’t sit. What I’m saying is get up and move now and then when you have to sit for prolonged periods, and stretch your hips after you’ve sat for a long time.

      Stress is the other big cause: when we are stressed we see this in our bodies with our neck, sometimes causing headaches, and in our lower backs. That’s where we ‘carry’ our stress.

      2. How to fix your lower back pain.

        With running, gradually becoming a forefoot runner will have multiple benefits – decreased lower back tightness being just one of them. This should be a gradual process to avoid injury – get in touch if you want to go through it.

        Sitting? As mentioned, take movement breaks. As a minimum get up once per hour for 5 minutes. That could be as simple as boiling the kettle and making a coffee, and doing some movements like hip circles, squats or a hamstring stretch as you wait for it to boil. That’s a minimum though. Ideally you’d look for bigger changes, like finding ways to be on your feet more. Maybe you can stand up or walk when you take some of your calls?

        The third thing to address is stress. Obviously, cutting down on the stress in your life is the real solution here. Although not necessarily easy. Let’s focus here on the symptom and how to manage that, as long-term fixes to your stress levels don’t help your immediate lower back pain. Try two things: get some genuine time to unwind each day, and do some breathwork.

        Unwinding could look like anything that you enjoy. But it doesn’t happen by accident – schedule it into your calendar each day and protect that time. Even 10 minutes a day will work wonders, and I’m certain that you can spare that.

        And breathwork? You could do this as part of those 10 minutes if you wanted, or even at lunch, or before you go to bed – whenever you can fit it in: sit or lie there and start breathing deeply into your belly. Count slowly out to 3, have a pause, count in to 3 as you fill your belly with air again, another pause… This box breathing will quickly relax you – just set a timer and get 2 minutes of it in. Focus on the breath. You’ll not only physically unwind, but mentally too.

        If you want more help with your lower back pain then get in contact with Max.

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