It is important for joggers to learn to work out in a way that avoids injury to the back muscles and spine. If you run, jog or engage in other high-impact exercise that puts stress on the spine, then it is especially important to start preventative methods.
1. Stretching! If you are a jogger it is important to stretch your hamstring around 2-3 times a day. The hamstring runs all the way to the lower back. Runners often have very tight leg muscles causing a stress on the muscles in the lower back.
2. Make sure to warm up. Start your jogging session with a fast walk before you go into a jog. This will warm up and loosen your muscles. Just remember to start out slow and slowly build speed over time.
3. Proper jogging technique. Posture and footfall is very important when jogging.
- Ask a friend or expert to watch you jog to ensure your jogging technique is correct.
- The proper running technique is to strike the ground mid-foot. Avoid landing on your heels this will stress your spine.
- Your body needs to be aligned with your feet. Check your hips, trunk and shoulders are all aligned. Avoid leaning forward & keep proper posture.
4. Supportive Shoes! If you’re a big jogger it is important to update your shoes at least every year even if they look like they are in good condition.
- If you are just jogging wear running shoes because they are meant for forward motion and do not provide a lot of support when doing a side-to-side motion.
- If you are jogging outside on uneven trails it is important to wear cross-training shoes that will have side support to avoid injury.
- When purchasing shoes make sure there is a thumb-width between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. You don’t want to shoe to be too loose or too tight. You want to have enough wiggle room for your foot to fall.
- Do you have high arched feet? Purchase extra arch support and this will increase the cushion in the shoe and avoid an injury or fallen arches.
- Do you have flat feet? Purchase a motion-control shoe and this will help prevent an injury by making sure your feet aren’t too flexible.
5. Jogging on a rubber track or soft earth is a lot easier on your spine. Jogging on a hard surface causes shock waves to travel up your spine every time your foot hits the hard surface causing high-impact to your spine. If you have a soft surface you can jog on use that as much as possible.
6. Alternate your exercise routines. Jogging focuses on mainly your legs, heart and lungs. It is not a full body exercise and will not protect your muscles from injury. For example one-day jog and the next day try doing something like yoga or Pilates to strengthen your muscles throughout your body.
- If you only jog you are still at risk for back pain and injury. You need to tone your back, abdominals, shoulder and buttocks muscles to decrease your risk of back pain and injury.
- Other low-impact cardiovascular exercise like swimming, walking or elliptical training will strengthen your back as well.
7. Use ice! If you feel acute pain after jogging place an ice pack on the pain. This will relieve pain, swelling, and inflammation from injuries. Do this 3-5 times per day.
8. If jogging is causing you muscle spasms use moist heat on the area. Make sure to wait 2-3 days before applying heat to the area of pain.
Jogging is a great form of exercise and keeps people in great shape. Jogging can also put a high level of repetitive stretch on the spine. Those that suffer from back pain need to take these important measures to reduce strain on your back. If you experience extreme pain or numbness in your legs this could be a sign of a herniated disc. Stop jogging and contact a doctor before it worsens.