Understanding and Managing lower back pain when running


A Guide from Optimum Physio in Birmingham

Running is an excellent way to maintain physical fitness, improve cardiovascular health, and boost mental well-being. However, many runners experience lower back pain, which can hinder their performance and enjoyment. At Optimum Physio, based in Birmingham, we specialise in diagnosing, treating, and preventing lower back pain to keep you on track with your fitness goals. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the causes of lower back pain when running, preventive measures, and effective treatments available at our clinic.


Common Causes of Lower Back Pain When Running

Lower back pain when running can result from various factors. Understanding these can help you take appropriate action to alleviate and prevent pain.

  1. Poor Running Form Poor posture and improper running mechanics can strain the lower back muscles. Overstriding, leaning too far forward, or backward, and inadequate core engagement are common culprits. Proper running form is essential to distribute forces evenly across your body and minimise stress on any single part, including the lower back.
  2. Weak Core Muscles The core muscles, including the abdominals, obliques, and lower back muscles, stabilise the spine and pelvis during running. Weakness in these muscles can lead to instability and pain. A strong core acts as a solid foundation, reducing the risk of lower back strain and enhancing overall running efficiency.
  3. Tight Hip Flexors and Hamstrings Tightness in the hip flexors and hamstrings can alter pelvic alignment and increase the load on the lower back. This imbalance often leads to discomfort and pain. Regular stretching and flexibility exercises are crucial to maintaining a balanced and healthy musculoskeletal system.
  4. Inappropriate Footwear Wearing shoes that do not provide adequate support or cushioning can affect your running gait and lead to lower back issues. It’s important to choose running shoes that match your foot type and running style to ensure proper alignment and shock absorption.
  5. Overtraining Overtraining without sufficient rest and recovery can cause muscle fatigue and strain, contributing to lower back pain. A well-structured training programme that includes rest days and varied workouts can prevent overuse injuries and maintain muscle health.

Preventive Measures for Lower Back Pain When Running

Preventing lower back pain is crucial for maintaining a consistent running routine. Here are some strategies to keep in mind:

  1. Improve Running Form Focus on maintaining an upright posture with a slight forward lean from the ankles, not the waist. Ensure that your foot strikes are aligned with your body to reduce strain on the lower back. Practising good form can significantly reduce the risk of injuries and improve running efficiency.
  2. Strengthen Core Muscles Incorporate core-strengthening exercises into your fitness routine. Planks, bridges, and abdominal crunches can help build a strong core, providing better support for your spine. A strong core enhances stability and balance, crucial for efficient and pain-free running.
  3. Stretch Regularly Regular stretching of the hip flexors, hamstrings, and lower back can improve flexibility and reduce muscle tightness. Incorporate dynamic stretches before running and static stretches after your workout. Consistent stretching helps maintain muscle length and joint mobility, essential for preventing injuries.
  4. Choose the Right Footwear Invest in running shoes that provide proper support and cushioning. Visit a specialised running store in Birmingham for a gait analysis to find the best shoes for your running style. Proper footwear can correct biomechanical imbalances and provide the necessary support to your lower back.
  5. Gradual Progression Increase your running mileage and intensity gradually to allow your body to adapt and strengthen over time. Avoid sudden spikes in your training volume. A gradual approach helps prevent overuse injuries and allows your muscles and joints to recover and adapt.
  6. Cross-Training Incorporate cross-training activities, such as swimming, cycling, or strength training, to reduce the repetitive stress on your lower back. Cross-training improves overall fitness and prevents muscle imbalances, contributing to a stronger and more resilient body.

Treatment Options at Optimum Physio

At Optimum Physio in Birmingham, we offer a range of treatments to address lower back pain and help you return to running pain-free.

  1. Physiotherapy Assessment and Diagnosis Our experienced physiotherapists conduct a thorough assessment to identify the root cause of your lower back pain. This includes analysing your running form, muscle strength, and flexibility. An accurate diagnosis is crucial for developing an effective treatment plan.
  2. Manual Therapy Manual therapy techniques, such as massage and mobilisation, can relieve muscle tension, improve joint mobility, and reduce pain. Our therapists are skilled in various manual therapy methods tailored to your needs. Manual therapy helps restore normal movement patterns and reduces pain.
  3. Exercise Prescription We design personalised exercise programmes to strengthen weak muscles, improve flexibility, and enhance overall stability. These exercises target the core, hips, and lower back to provide comprehensive support. A tailored exercise programme ensures that you address specific weaknesses and imbalances.
  4. Postural and Running Technique Training Our physiotherapists provide guidance on proper posture and running techniques to prevent future injuries. This includes tips on maintaining a neutral spine, proper foot strike, and effective breathing patterns. Training on running techniques helps you run more efficiently and reduces the risk of lower back pain.
  5. Electrotherapy Modalities such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation can help reduce pain and promote tissue healing. These therapies are used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan to accelerate recovery. Electrotherapy aids in reducing inflammation and pain, facilitating faster healing.
  6. Education and Advice Understanding your condition and how to manage it is crucial for long-term success. We offer education on pain management, injury prevention, and lifestyle modifications to support your recovery journey. Educated patients are better equipped to manage their health and prevent future injuries.
  7. Acupuncture Acupuncture can be an effective treatment for lower back pain by promoting natural pain relief and improving circulation. Our trained physiotherapists use acupuncture as part of an integrated approach to pain management. Acupuncture stimulates the body’s healing response, providing relief from chronic pain.
  8. Custom Orthotics Custom orthotics can help address biomechanical issues that contribute to lower back pain. We provide thorough assessments to determine if orthotics are necessary and design custom solutions to support your running mechanics. Orthotics provide the necessary support and alignment to reduce strain on the lower back.

Why Choose Optimum Physio in Birmingham?

Optimum Physio stands out for its commitment to providing personalised, evidence-based care for runners and athletes of all levels. Here’s why you should choose us for your lower back pain treatment:

  1. Experienced Professionals Our team consists of highly qualified and experienced physiotherapists who specialise in musculoskeletal and sports injuries. We are dedicated to helping you achieve your fitness goals. Our therapists continuously update their skills and knowledge to provide the best care.
  2. Comprehensive Approach We adopt a holistic approach to treatment, considering all aspects of your health and fitness. Our integrated treatment plans ensure you receive the most effective care. A holistic approach addresses not just the symptoms but the underlying causes of lower back pain.
  3. State-of-the-Art Facilities Our clinic in Birmingham is equipped with modern facilities and the latest therapeutic technologies to provide high-quality care. We invest in advanced equipment and continuous training to offer the best possible treatment options.
  4. Convenient Location Located in the heart of Birmingham, our clinic is easily accessible. We offer flexible appointment times to accommodate your busy schedule. Our central location makes it convenient for you to seek regular treatment without disrupting your daily routine.
  5. Personalised Care We believe in treating every patient as an individual. Our tailored treatment plans are designed to meet your specific needs and goals. Personalised care ensures that you receive the attention and treatment that best suits your condition.
  6. Community Engagement We actively participate in the Birmingham community, offering workshops, seminars, and running clinics to educate and support local runners. Our engagement with the community demonstrates our commitment to promoting health and fitness in Birmingham.


Lower back pain when running is a common issue that can be effectively managed with the right approach. At Optimum Physio in Birmingham, we are dedicated to helping you overcome pain and improve your running performance. By understanding the causes, taking preventive measures, and seeking professional treatment, you can enjoy a pain-free running experience. Visit our homepage at optimumphysio.co.uk to learn more about our services and book an appointment today. Let us help you get back on track and achieve your fitness goals.