Marathon Tips for Preserving Spine Health

There are undoubtedly many health benefits associated with activities like running a marathon. Yet, as spinal surgeons in Los Angeles, we also want marathon runners to keep in mind the added stress placed on the spine and supporting nerves, tendons and muscles when running long distances. The following three pre-marathon precautions can help reduce any spinal aches and pains that are commonly felt after running for long distances.

  1. Prepare Muscles, Ligaments and Tendons Supporting Your Spine

    Some of the force from your feet hitting the pavement will be absorbed within your lower back. To help minimize this, incorporate specific exercises into your pre-marathon workout routine designed to strengthen muscles supporting the spine. Such exercises typically include strength training to improve your core (hips, glutes, lower back and abdominal muscles).

  2. Slowly Increase Your Practice Runs

    The only way to get an idea of how your back is likely to react to a marathon is to go through practice runs. Pay particular attention to any related pain you feel in your lower back or pain that may radiate from your hamstrings (large muscles in the back of the thighs) to your lower back. While you don’t have to adhere to this routine, a common practice run schedule for runners is to slowly increase the length of runs and then decrease the duration the week before the marathon.

  3. Follow Proper Running Form

    If you’re not an experienced marathon runner, take some time to learn the proper form for running to avoid putting added pressure on your spine. Proper running form includes:

        • Hitting the ground mid-foot rather than landing directly on your heels
        • Keeping your hips, trunk and shoulders aligned above your feet (no leaning forward)
        • Related: Wearing proper shoes for the added support you need while running

By keeping the above tips in mind when preparing to run a marathon, any post-aches and pains will likely go away with a little rest and relaxation.

If you lead an active lifestyle and are experiencing pain in your back that prevents you from doing the things you love, it may be time to seek help. Properly identifying pain can help in finding the right treatments, helping you to get back to your favorite exercises and activities.

For more information, reach out to Doctor Bae of the Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration and schedule an in-person consultation. Along with a specialization in minimally invasive surgery, Doctor Bae has lead a number of clinical trials for new spine treatments, ensuring that you’ll be provided with all your options for pain relief. Call 310-350-7757.