Runners Can Avoid Low Back Pain

To Avoid Low Back Pain, Runners Should Think Deep


According to an article in PT In Motion, 14% of runners experience low back pain each year. But they can reduce their risk by developing their deep core muscles. And they state that “while many fitness enthusiasts focus on their abs, they may neglect muscles they can’t see.”

They used motion-capture technology to collect data from participants with no history of back pain. They used the data to create a simulation using OpenSim for modeling movement. In the simulations they weakened the deep core muscles. They found that when the dep core muscles are weak, superficial core muscles (longissimus thoracic) tend to overcompensate.

The authors concluded that when the deep core muscles were weak, there was a significant increase in both compressive and shear spinal loading in the upper back, with a decrease in the lower back. The authors warn “over time, this could result in damage to the spine and increase the risk of injury.”

This study was specifically looking at running, but I think it’s safe to say that deep core strength can help prevent compensations for other activities in our daily life, as well as other sports.

This is important to my team of runners who will participate in the San Francisco Rock N Roll 1/2 Marathon this Sunday!

— Korey Pieper, DPT, OCS, CCI