Getting ready to join in one of the many races happening in metro Atlanta this year? Running is a great way to burn calories, improve your cardiovascular health and strengthen your muscles. Unfortunately, this exercise can be a double-edged sword for many people. That’s because it places a lot of strain on the joints, especially those in the knees, ankles and spine. I love running and wanted to share a few tips with you to help minimize these issues and make sure you don’t end up hurting your back during your run.
Your feet are the foundation for your movements when you’re running. If you’re not on a solid base, it can potentially cause back pain. That’s why wearing the right shoes is critical when running. Make sure you’re wearing running shoes, not cross trainers. Running-specific shoes provide more support in the arches and more cushioning on the heels and balls of the foot. You may also want to consider using an insole to keep your foot in the right position and provide additional support.
Stretch Before and After Running
It’s always a good idea to stretch before exercising, and running is no exception. Stretch your calves, quads and hamstrings, as well as your back. These are the muscles that will be doing the most work during your run. Stretching before running will warm up the muscles and make sure you don’t pull anything. Stretching after will prevent your muscles from seizing up and will reduce soreness after your run.
Run on a Soft Surface if Possible
The more shock the ground absorbs, the less shock is getting to your spine. If there is a track near you, use it as often as possible. Modern running tracks are made of a rubber composite material that absorbs shock and makes your run less strenuous for the joints. Avoid running on hard and uneven surfaces, as these will put more strain on your knees, ankles and spine.
Take a Break if Needed
If your back begins to hurt, don’t be afraid to take a day or two off. The body needs time to recover when it’s injured, and working out too much can be just as bad for you as being sedentary. Don’t overdo it; give your body some time to heal and you’ll be out running again in no time! If your back pain persists, see a spine specialist. The physicians at Resurgens Spine Center are here for you and can help get you back out running.
Michael Schaufele, M.D., C.P.E., Dr. med, received his medical degree from the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. He completed his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and his fellowship at the Spine Center Harlaching in Munich, Germany. Dr. Schaufele is Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Pain Medicine and Sports Medicine. Additionally, he is a member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the North American Spine Society, the American Academy of Physician Leadership and the Spine Intervention Society. He serves as a Board Member for the Georgia Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. He is also a certified Independent Medical Examiner and an FAA Aviation Medical Examiner. Dr. Schaufele practices at the Resurgens St. Joseph’s/Sandy Springs location.
Resurgens Spine Center • Non-surgical & Surgical Spine Care
24 Convenient Atlanta Locations • www.ResurgensSpine.com