Runners with lower back pain?

Many runners complain of lower back pain, in the United States this could account for nearly 10% of all running related injuries.

As I’ve explained before there is a myth that the shock and impact from running causes joint pain. This isn’t true! Runners actually have stronger bones, healthier joints and are less likely to require joint replacement surgery.

It’s not the activity that’s at fault – it’s the mechanics in our body that are the problem. Which is why a proper video gait analysis is so important – it can identify where the mechanics need to be fixed and supported so that you don’t get pain when running.

One thing that watching you walk on video is brilliant for is demonstrating how well you straighten your knee.

Runners with lower back pain are usually NOT straightening their knee properly!

If you aren’t straightening your knee correctly then 2 things happen which contribute to lower back pain:

  1. your hamstring tightens, forcing the connecting muscles in your lower back to compensate
  2. you are, in effect, limping. So your hips are dropping and again, your lower back is compensating

So it is your knee which is causing your lower back problem.

Get your knee straight and the pain in your lower back will ease.

But how did this start?

For many reasons, perhaps you injured your knee or leg and limped for some time. Unconsciously you never corrected the limp.

Perhaps there is an underlying problem in your knee which while not currently painful, you are trying to protect (does it “give way” occasionally?).

Perhaps your foot function isn’t correct causing a problem further up the kinetic chain.

Referred pain

This phenomenon, where you get pain in one part of the body while the real problem is actually somewhere else, is called referred pain. And it is one of the key reasons why a proper assessment and diagnosis is so critical to getting better.

If your therapist doesn’t assess you, doesn’t look at the entire body to determine the true cause, then you spend a lot of time and money treating a problem which will never go away.

Fix the problem

So if you are a runner with lower back pain, get your knee straight!

Get your gait analysed, so you don’t get any future problems.


PS the study did also conclude that in women only there can be tightness in the lower back that needs to be addressed as well as the knee extension. For men it was all about getting the knee straight!


One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.