When your lower back is giving you the blues, maintaining a fitness routine may be on the bottom of your list. Building strong lower-back muscles, however, can be a big factor in powering you through your workout whether you’re treading along on the gym’s treadmill or jogging around your neighborhood. Tighten, tone and strengthen your back for further support on your runs.
What the Experts Are Saying
There’s a little more benefit from your daily jog than just moments of clarity and a great cardio workout. According to Jason Fitzgerald, USA Track and Field-certified coach, 2:39 marathoner and author of "101 Simple Ways to be a Better Runner," running can increase the lower back's muscular endurance, helping to make walking or standing easier by improving the stability of the back. Certified fitness trainer Edu Cuero of Kirsch Wellness Company agrees that long-distance jogging can increase bone density in the back, legs and hips, strengthening the body every time you hit the pavement.
The Footwear Connection
It’s not you, it’s your shoes. Sometimes low-back pain and weak lower-back muscles can be a sign that it’s time to break up with your running shoes. The impact of running or jogging can be brutal on the lower back as you pound the pavement and your body absorbs the shock. Having adequate support and protection from the proper shoe decreases the rate of shock transmission to the spine and decreases your lower muscles' response time. Run in shoes that give you the best support for your running style. This can often be measured at advanced-running shoe stores that evaluate the best shoe for your foot based on the shape, arch, width and pronation of your feet. Don’t forget to swap out your shoes for new ones every 350 miles to avoid injuries and back issues in the future.
Other Ways to Tone
Jogging alone won’t build up your backside like weightlifting and muscle toning can. Supplement your jogging routine and prevent back pain in the future with at-home exercises to tone your lower and upper back. Focus on weightlifting routines that will build the upper part of your body. For lower-back toning, try sitting with a medicine ball in your hand and rotating the ball from side to side as you keep your legs and back straight. You can also try the kneeling superman exercise by getting down on your hands and knees and alternating arm and leg lifts for a stretching and toning routine that will work both the lower and upper back, not to mention the glutes.
When to Seek Help for Pain
If you find that your jogging routine is being cut short by lower-back pain, it may be time to see a doctor. Typically, it’s best for you to visit your physician if your back pain has persisted, as you could have a herniated disc that needs immediate attention. Some runners may need to switch to low-impact aerobics like swimming or biking so they don't further aggravate the lower back.
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