A study of elite athletes found that individuals within that group experienced less lower back than the general population. However, the same study found there is no benefit from an increased training load, making the case for focusing more on proper training techniques rather than stepping up workouts and practices when training for marathons.
Don’t Skip Warm-Ups
Even if you’re a seasoned marathon runner, warm-ups shouldn’t be skipped. Taking the time to warm up muscles that support your back can reduce lower back pain that’s sometimes experienced after the race when the adrenaline rush has worn off. Warm-ups for your back can include:
• Side bends primarily for lower back muscles
• Trunk rotations for the lower and mid-back
• Neck rotations for the cervical spine
Cross training achieves the goal of strengthening core muscle groups without putting too much stress on back muscles alone. The concept of cross training is to incorporate different forms of exercise into your weekly routine to avoid what’s referred to as overuse syndrome from focusing too much on one muscle group. A typical cross training workout can include:
• Lifting weights
• Practice running or similar aerobic exercises
• Yoga and other relaxation-based exercises
Lower back pain can radiate to the legs via the sciatic nerve that starts in the lower lumbar region. Doing hamstring stretches as part of your marathon training minimize the stress that’s placed on your lower back from the repetitive movements associated with running. Effective hamstring stretches include:
• Forward bends – Sit on a flat surface and extend your arms towards your toes.
• L-stretch – Sit down facing a wall and extend one leg in front of you on the floor while the other one is directly on the wall.
• Standing hamstring stretches – Place your leg on a chair or stool while extending that leg straight.
When doing practice runs, avoid cement surfaces and opt for more forgiving surfaces, or use an elliptical machine or treadmill. Wearing comfortable shoes can also reduce strain on your lower back while running. See a board-certified back doctor if you experience any sudden back, leg, shoulder, or neck pain–all of which may be linked to something going on with your spine or supporting muscles.
Interested in learning more about athletics and spine health? Reach out to The Spine Institute in Beverly Hills. Our team of highly qualified spine surgeons can help diagnose the source of your back pain and determine the best treatment options for your active lifestyle.