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Back Pain From Running

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One of my areas of injury research for both Army and Navy aeromedical systems was preventing back pain from running. Disease Non-Battle Injuries (DNBI) from exercising in the gym and doing PT is a huge military issue - grounding far more personnel than combat casualty.

I ran several studies and found that overarching (hyperlordosis) is a major overlooked cause of lower back pain - some examples are shown in the post Prevent Back Surgery.

I developed a simple method for people with this kind of back pain to understand and reverse the cause of pain themselves, with simple repositioning to neutral spine instead of overarching. It was unexpected news to some groups who have been taught to overarch, and who deliberately tilt the backside far out in back for exercise. But it was welcome relief for my guys who liked to joke that they were my STRACguys - combat slang for 'stupid troops running around in circles.'

I wrote a little training manual that went through several improvements to become the book, The Ab Revolution™ No More Crunches No More Back Pain. The book has two parts. The first shows how to stop back pain during various standing activity in daily life, both non-active and active, including running. The second part gives ways to exercise core muscles in healthier ways.

Reader Ted found the book and put it to immediate use to stop years of disabling back pain and return to running. Ted wrote:

"I am 57 years old and have weighed 175-lbs for the last 10-years (which drives my doctor nuts). I discovered running in 1969, after gaining weight when I entered college. The track at the University was fenced in, so we'd slide under the fence to run it. I jogged for six years, then raced for another ten years. I wasn't a fast runner, but I hit the legendary ''Second Wind'' on many occasions - you feel like you could Run Forever.......No Time....No Distance.....Just You and the Road.........it is a Mystical Experience....

"I tore out my ankle ligaments in 1980, and had to rehab for a year 'til I could start running again. I have run carrying 2 1/2-lb hand weights for the last 22 years. In 1989, I tore my back. It hurt, then the pain subsided, but flared up every so often."


The only way Ted had then to "cure the pain" was to stop running. Ted continued:

"In 2005 I REALLY hurt it, went into spasms (my wife had taken me shopping for eight hours, and I still blame this on being taken shopping), and the pain made me look back fondly on the Ligament Tear of 1980. After that, it was an All the Time Thing. Running dropped to twice a week (if that) and the slightest thing would trigger a back spasm. I accidentally came upon Dr Bookspan's ''Ab Revolution'' and 'mistakenly' bought it as an exercise book. It's more of a Way of Life, just like running.

"I have been pain-free (amazing) for 12-weeks and counting. I have increased my running to 4-5 days a week. Not having my back killing me is more than I could have hoped for. I thought my running days were over, and I would have missed them.......A LOT.

"The funny part was, I had gotten so used to the pain, it took about three DAYS for me to realize it WASN'T hurting. I cannot recommend the techniques in this book enough to other runners, If you can do The Thing You Love, why WOULDN'T you try this?"


What specifically did Ted do to fix the pain? He writes:

"The two techniques (in the book) I got the results from were the Standing Beginning Crunch with the hands facing each other, and the Where is My Belt Pointing? technique."

Both of these techniques move the spine from the overly -arched position to neutral spine. A summary of the "hands" technique is on the post Innovation in Abdominal Muscles and the beltline pointing is shown in Using Abdominal Muscles is Not Tightening or Pressing Navel to Spine. More step-by-step instructions and photos are in the Ab Revolution manual.

I will ask Ted what's going on with his knee in the photo he sent for this post, and what we can do to fix that up next. I will cover more on back pain after running, and also hope to post some other interesting work I did on the military running chants called jody calls or jodies, and their effect on perceived exertion during running. Click the label military fitness, below, to see my work on this. Check back often for more.

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Read success stories of these methods and send your own. Before asking questions, see if your answers are already here by clicking labels under posts, links in posts, archives at right, and The Fitness Fixer Index. Subscribe to The Fitness Fixer, click "updates via e-mail" (under trumpet) upper right.
For personal medical questions - Replies to Medical Questions. Limited Class spaces for personal feedback. Top students may apply for certification through DrBookspan.com/Academy. Learn more in Dr. Bookspan's Books.

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Photo - by Ted
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About the Author


M.Ed, PhD, FAWM

Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.

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