Spotting Back Pain During Running and Walking - What Do Abs Have To Do With It?
The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Spotting Back Pain During Running and Walking - What Do Abs Have To Do With It?

The post Innovation in Abdominal Muscles showed one of the most common, yet most overlooked cause of lower back pain during long standing walking, and running.

Readers sent excited letters stating they could finally see and feel why they had back pain, and could immediately feel the difference when they stopped standing with too much inward curve in the lower spine, and began standing and moving in neutral spine.

  • Neutral spine at left. The line from the top of the leg up to the middle of the hip is vertical. The beltline (line from front to back through the crest of the hipbone) is horizontal.
  • Middle drawing shows tilting the hip forward in front and out in back.
  • Right drawing shows tilting the hip forward, and also leaning the upper body backward.

Readers asked for more photos so that they can see the difference between overarching (hyperlordosis) and neutral spine (normal lordosis) during running and walking. They wanted to see the overarch in action and what running in neutral spine looked like.

The two photos above show allowing hyperlordosis, or too much inward curve (arch) in the lower spine. It is not a normal curve. The angle increases where the back of the vertebrae come together. It does not look fit or healthy.
  • In both photos, the hip tilts forward in front (and out in back) instead of holding vertical. The abdomen rounds outward.
  • Note the red stripe on the runner's pants in the photo at left. The stripe tilts forward from the top of the leg to the middle of the hip. Compare to the red vertical line in the middle and right-hand drawing. The beltline tips downward in front. Compare to the red lines tilting downward in the drawings.
  • The walker in the photo at right tilts the hip forward in front (and out in back), beltline tips downward. The upper body leans and sags backward.

Neutral spine.

The muscles that shorten to prevent the upper body tilting back and the hip tilting forward are your abdominal muscles. The abdominal muscles are too long when you allow overarching. Keep this in mind when you hear about exercise programs that claim to lengthen your abs.

Moving your spine to neutral spine for all daily life is how abdominal muscles help prevent back pain. It is not strengthening them that does this, and it is not tightening. Crunches and other forward bending exercises do not train you how to use your abs to hold neutral spine and they increase herniating pressure on your discs - click Good Life Works Better Than Bad Ab Exercise. Use your abdominal muscles, without tightening them, to position your lower spine during all you do, just like using any other muscles to move any other part the way you want. It is a free ab workout all day, and you will stop a major cause of back pain during standing, walking, and running.


Lordosis drawing of Backman!™ © copyright Dr. Jolie Bookspan
Running lordosis photo by Remy Sharp
Running lordosis2 photo by subscription to
Running neutral 1 photo by andynoise
Running neutral2 photo by Pandiyan

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About the Author


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