Low back pain when running? How chiropractic can help!

Our Melbourne chiropractors love to help all different level of runners – from the weekend park runners, to the professional athletes.

Running is a pretty common activity. Many people have picked it up over the last few years as a way to exercise throughout the lockdowns and get some fresh air instead of staying at home. Unfortunately with this increase in running, there has been more aches and pains cropping up throughout the population. It is thought that the injuries that will occur from running will be related to just the ankles, knees and hips.

While these are the more common injuries reported, you can also experience back pain from running. This can be during the run itself or after you have completed your kilometres and are resting up. The back pain is usually felt on one specific side of the back and a bit below where your belt would sit. This area usually indicates the pain itself is coming from the sacroiliac (or SI) joint rather than your low back.

Your SI joints are pretty important joints in the pelvis.It is where your sacrum meets your pelvis and what connects spine to the lower part of your body. Your SI joints aren’t like you knee or shoulder joints, they don’t have the most movement. They are mainly there to provide shock absorption for the spine but they do move during weight bearing and forward flexion in a gliding motion, which is why they are important for running. If this joint becomes stuck, you end up ‘swinging’ that side rather than having the joint glide.

This can lead to back pain, SI pain and even knee, hip or ankle pain on the side of the malfunctioning joint. This is due to the body compensating for the malfunctioning joint. This isn’t the only reason for SI pain though. If you have a more sedentary job, like a desk job, you likely have tight hamstrings and hip rotators (like the piriformis). Both these muscle groups attach along the pelvis and sacrum, adding more pressure to this joint when they are tight.

So what can you do to help with this pain? The first thing you can do is see your chiropractor. We are trained to assess the body and determine which area of the body aren’t moving as well as others. From here we determine whether X-rays are required and begin adjusting your spine.

Adjustments start out frequently as we begin to get the joints moving better, which is followed by less and less often adjustments as the mechanics of your SI joint improve. Other parts of care involve stretching out the hip rotators and hamstrings or foam rolling those same muscles. Foam rolling can be done both before and after exercise, as it helps warm the muscles up before running and can help with the speed of recovery after.

For more long term relief from this pain, regular adjustments are recommended. As you most likely want to continue running, your SI joints will continue to have stress put on them. So getting regular checks and adjustments will ensure your joints continue to function optimally. This pain can also be avoided all together by getting yourself checked now and start with some preventive care.