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How to manage back pain for runners
How to manage back pain for runners

Get back to running quickly and carefully with information to help you self-manage generalised back pain

Aidan avatar
Written by Aidan
Updated over a week ago

The contents of our support articles, such as text, videos, images, are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Check with a doctor in addition to using our support articles and before making any medical decisions.


Most back pain is non-specific, meaning that there is likely no structural damage or structural irritation. Back pain normally occurs due to joint stiffness or muscle tightness, so when you do get this pain, the most important thing is to try and keep the back moving. It is very common for runners to stop all movement due to the fear of making things worse, but the best thing you can do is move.

Signs and Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of back pain may include:

  • Stiffness and discomfort in the back when you are running

  • Weakness in the core and glute muscles

If you experience any signs or symptoms that include pins and needles, numbness or bowel issues, make sure to speak to a doctor


1. Movement

Rest is not always best! Whilst it may not feel like it, the lower back likes movement to help prevent stiffness. Even a short 10 minute walk will help relieve some of the symptoms.

2. Mobilisation

As well as the short walks, you should look to try and do these exercises throughout the day to help relieve the symptoms of generalised back pain.

Knees to chest (source)

Lay on your back, gently rolling your knees up to your chest, using both hands to squeeze them as close to the chest as possible. You should do this exercise for 60 seconds at the start - you might experience slight pain due to the tightness of the muscles, but you should work with the pain rather than against it. This exercise should be done little and often to keep the back moving.

Dead Bugs (source)

This exercise is for your abdominals. When you have back pain, it is common that your lower back gets overloaded due to the weakness in your abdominals. This exercise will help you strengthen your core to support your lower back. Hands and thighs should be parallel with each other, with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Lengthen each opposite arm and leg at the same time until they are parallel to the floor. Engage your core then pull them back up to the starting position. This exercise should be done two to three times a day, each time for 20-30 seconds.

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