Running while clutching your waist and grimacing in misery is precisely no one's idea of a good time. But sometimes, running can actually help reduce pain, particularly if you sit at a desk all day and your waist pain is caused by tense, tight muscles. It's possible to run with waist pain without silently cursing your decision, but you'll need to get the go-ahead from your doctor first.
Talk to your doctor to find out the cause of the pain. Minor strains and sprains can cause waist pain, but so can more serious conditions. Pain on the waist in the back, for example, could be caused by deep bruising, kidney issues, a herniated disc or an infection. You'll need to find out if it's safe to run with pain first, and your doctor might recommend a specific running or stretching routine to minimize your risk of injury.
Take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen 30 to 45 minutes before you run. If your pain is caused by muscle tension or minor injuries, the drug will reduce inflammation and help reduce pain while you run. However, it's important to avoid pushing yourself too hard, even if you're temporarily pain-free. Instead, stick to a short, relatively simple running routine and gradually increase your time and speed over several days.
Warm up for five to 10 minutes before your run. This gets your muscles ready to work, makes it easier and safer to stretch and can help prevent a painful stitch in your side as you run. Try a brisk walk, low-intensity jog or even a brief swimming or cycling session.
Stretch before you run to loosen up tense muscles. Stand up straight, then slowly bend to the left until you feel a stretch in your back. Extend your right arm out over your head as you stretch, then switch sides. Stretch your hip flexors -- a common cause of waist and low back pain -- by kneeling on your right knee, with your left leg bent and your left foot flat on the floor. Shift your weight forward onto your left leg until you feel a stretch, then switch sides. Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds.
Wear a brace when you run to support your back and waist, particularly if you have injuries. Focus on keeping your spine straight while running, rather than leaning forward or to one side to compensate for the pain. If the pain gets worse as you run, slow your pace down. If the pain continues, stop running altogether and contact your doctor.
Synchronize your breathing with your running strides. This can ensure your muscles get adequate oxygen and help prevent cramps in your waist. Try inhaling for two to four strides and then exhaling for the same period of time. Steady, even breathing is much more effective than uneven or shallow breaths.
- MayoClinic.com: Slide Show -- A Guide to 10 Basic Stretches
- Spine-Health: Running and Lower Back Pain
- Runners Rescue: Lower Back Pain and Running
- The Muscle and Bone Palpation Manual; Joseph E. Muscolino
- Runner's World: Four Ways to Stop the Dreaded Side Stitch
- Remaining hydrated can help you avoid cramping in your waist and in other muscles.
- If you're just starting out, try breaking your run into two or three smaller runs during the day, and start with a slow jog. As you get more comfortable running, you can increase the length and speed of your run.
- Properly fitted running shoes can help you adopt the proper gait, so ensure your shoes neither rub your feet nor move as you're running.
- Exercises that strengthen your back and abs, such as crunches, squats and lunges, can help you build strength and reduce your risk of injury.
- Runner's World recommends steering clear of high-fiber foods an hour or two before your run. These can cause painful cramps in your side.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.