Running With Back Pain or Neck Pain? 3 Simple Steps for Relief

Back pain and neck pain can take all the pleasure out of a good run. Enjoying your special time becomes impossible. Every step sends a nagging jolt into the neck, back, or between the shoulder blades. As the miles drag by, you keep checking your watch to see how much longer you have to be finished with your workout. It’s no fun at all. Whether you are a jogger, a weekend warrior, or an elite athelete, you are especially prone to injury because of the unique stresses of running on the body. Sometimes you are able to help yourself with injuries, sometimes you need professional help. So, how do you know when to self-treat and when it’s time to go to the doctor? Here are 3 suggestions to follow before seeking professional help.

1. Work On Your Form. Running requires the maintenance of correct posture with tremendous muscle exertion for extended periods of time. Be sure to “think tall” when you run. A forward lean when running places extra stress on the erector spinae muscles in the lower back, which causes them to fatigue and predisposes them to injury and, eventually back pain. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed. I see many runners holding their shoulders up around their ears. Strains of the trapezius, levator scapulae and muscles of the neck are the common result of this type of bad form, neck pain being the eventual result. Finally, keep your chest up and out. Avoid that burning pain between your shoulder blades by maintaining the tone of the interscapular muscles. Keeping your chest thrust up and out also expands lung capacity.

2. Work On Your Flexibility And Strength. Stretch your hamstrings. Almost everyone who has tight hamstrings has some type of low back pain. That is because these muscles work in conjunction with your erector spinae muscles to maintain you in an upright position. Gentle daily stretches of the hamstrings and calves may help alleviate your lower back pain. Strengthen your quadriceps and abdominals. Running does not naturally develop the quadriceps or spine-stabilizing muscles like the abdominals. Do some cycling or lift some weights. Do your crunches. Increase your spine’s range of motion. Gently stretch your neck and lower back in the directions of forward flexion, backward extension, side bending and rotation. Roll your shoulders up and back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. You will feel a difference in your mid-back immediately.

3. Take Self-Help Time For Your Injuries. Getting a massage from a certified therapist is a great place to start. A good massage will break up scar (non-functional) tissue, increase circulation to injured muscles, relieve back pain and neck pain, and speed the healing process. Use ice for your injuries. Cryotherapy (treatment with ice) is nature’s pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. Stay away from hot baths or hot tubs for a couple of weeks. Heat is one of the components of inflammation and can be like adding gasoline to a fire. Even though it feels good to muscles at the time, you will feel worse after you are done. Take magnesium, calcium, and potassium supplements that are in readily absorbable (bio-available) forms. They are nature’s own muscle relaxers. In addition, take Vitamin D3 to help modulate inflammation and take fish oil for the omega 3 fatty acids that help with muscle repair. Last, but not least, get enough sleep at night and enough rest between workouts. You really need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Your body repairs most efficiently while you are sleeping. Alternate easy and challenging workout days so you can continue to train without causing more damage.

When You Should See A Specialist. If back pain or neck pain continues a few weeks after following these suggestions, your injury may be more serious than you can handle alone. You may be suffering from a condition that involves more than just muscles. The health of the spine is dependent upon the individual movement of each of its 24 vertebrae. When one of these joints becomes injured and doesn’t move the way it is supposed to, it can cause irritation of the nerves that run between the vertebrae. These nerves control every function of the body, including the voluntary and involuntary muscles of the spine. Irritated nerves cause muscles to spasm. Spasm causes pain. The condition where abnormal function of a joint is interfering with a nerve is called a “subluxation”. Chiropractors are doctors who specialize in the relief of this condition without the use of drugs or surgery. Getting your spine checked for subluxations may be the key that will break the injury/pain cycle for you. Back pain or neck pain takes all of the pleasure out of running, or any activity for that matter. By following these simple suggestions, you may find relief and once again enjoy a great sport and your special time. For a video edition of this article click on the following link: [youtube:KRpbHaYTmeg?version=3;Having [link:Back Pain When Running? Relief] in 3 Simple Steps ;]

Dr. Dana Williamson is an avid runner and specializes in the natural treatment of sports injuries at his Chiropractic offices in Richmond and Mechanicsville VA. He is a member in good standing of the Virginia Chiropractic Association.

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