It seems that back pain is a common occurrence in our society. We often think that only the elderly and overweight populations experience this but it is prevalent in even the most fit individuals. Runners seem to have a high occurrence of back pain. Why?
A new study out of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center aimed to answer this question. It turns out that the runners that were studied had weak deep core muscles. To perform their experiment, researchers analyzed the function of the deep and superficial core muscles. They found that the superficial “six pack” muscles were actually compensating for the deeper muscles. These superficial muscles are smaller and fatigue faster resulting in an early breakdown of form. When running the upper body should stay upright. When these muscles are fatigued while running, we start to bend over more causing back pain.
So what can we do to train these deeper muscles? Simple. Exercises that focus on stabilizing the core have more of a benefit on athletic performance than sit ups for example. Exercises like planks, side planks, dead bugs, and farmers walk train our deep muscles and can prevent back pain. With these exercises we can improve our overall posture not just when we’re running. This will lead to better back health and athletic ability.
- Margaret E. Raabe, Ajit M.W. Chaudhari. Biomechanical consequences of running with deep core muscle weakness. Journal of Biomechanics, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2017.11.037
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. "Study uncovers potential key to preventing back pain in runners." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 January 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180103101742.htm>.