Why Does Running Hurt My Back

Running is a fantastic way to stay active and keep fit. It helps strengthen muscles, improve cardiovascular health, and boost overall well-being. However, sometimes running can result in an unpleasant side effect: back pain. As an avid runner myself, I have experienced this firsthand, and it can be quite frustrating. In this article, I will delve into the reasons why running can cause back pain and provide some insights on how to prevent and manage it.

The Impact of Running on the Spine

Running is a high-impact activity that puts a significant amount of stress on our bodies, particularly our joints and bones. The spine, which consists of vertebrae and discs, plays a crucial role in supporting and protecting the spinal cord. When we run, the repetitive pounding can lead to compression and strain on the discs and structures within the spine, resulting in back pain.

One common cause of back pain in runners is improper running form. Running with poor posture, such as hunching forward or hyperextending the back, can put excessive strain on the spine and contribute to discomfort. It is essential to maintain an upright posture and engage the core muscles while running to help distribute the impact evenly throughout the body.

Weak Muscles and Imbalances

Another factor that can contribute to back pain during running is muscle weakness or imbalances. The core muscles, including the abdominals, back extensors, and hip muscles, provide stability and support to the spine. If these muscles are weak or imbalanced, they may not effectively absorb the impact of running, causing the back to bear a disproportionate amount of stress.

Furthermore, tightness in certain muscles can also contribute to back pain. For instance, tight hip flexors or hamstrings can alter the mechanics of running and create tension in the lower back. It is crucial to incorporate regular stretching and strengthening exercises targeting the core and lower body muscles to help maintain muscle balance and flexibility.

Inadequate Footwear and Running Surface

The type of footwear and running surface can also play a role in back pain. Worn-out or improperly fitting shoes may not provide adequate shock absorption, leading to increased impact on the spine. It is essential to invest in proper running shoes that provide cushioning and support for your specific foot type.

Additionally, running on hard surfaces, such as concrete or asphalt, can increase the stress on the spine. If possible, try opting for softer surfaces like grass or trails to reduce the impact on your back. Variation in running surfaces can also help prevent repetitive strain and decrease the risk of back pain.

Prevention and Management

Preventing and managing back pain while running requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the various factors involved. Here are some strategies that can help:

  • Ensure proper running form and posture
  • Perform regular core strengthening exercises
  • Incorporate flexibility exercises to maintain muscle balance
  • Invest in good-quality running shoes
  • Vary running surfaces
  • Listen to your body and take rest days as needed

If you experience persistent or severe back pain while running, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional, such as a sports medicine physician or physical therapist. They can assess your specific situation, provide personalized recommendations, and help you develop a plan to safely continue running while minimizing back pain.


Running is a fantastic way to stay active and healthy, but it can sometimes lead to back pain. By understanding the impact of running on the spine, addressing muscle imbalances, wearing proper footwear, and taking preventive measures, you can minimize the risk of back pain and continue to enjoy the many benefits of running. Remember to listen to your body, make adjustments as needed, and seek professional guidance if necessary. Happy running!