Top Tips to Avoid Back Pain When You are Overweight and Plan to Run

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Everything followed within its limits is beautiful. There are pros and cons to everything. This applies to running too.

Today, most people prefer running as a form of exercise. Especially, overweight people. Running helps tone the muscles, increase the body metabolism, and lose weight especially when you are overweight. However, if one overdoes this, their body would start screaming at them in the form of back pain or some muscle pull, tiredness, breathlessness and so on.

Also, many runners ignore their body ailments and start running without taking the necessary precautions. This could aggravate the problem. And recovery in such cases would need time and good training and planning.

But, sometimes runners experience back pain because they already exist. It is not caused by running. Running however worsens it if ignored. Some of the back pain symptoms that get worse after running are pain experienced when bending or lifting something, pain in the muscles, and a stabbing pain. These symptoms may be because of a condition lying deep down. Such as muscle sprains and strains, herniated disc, and hyperlordosis.

Three common types of back pains

Muscle Related

Too much of physical activity can cause this type of pain. This type of pain normally happens on the sides of the spine, on either side. It is normally the lower area of the spine that witnesses this pain. 

If you sense some pain or spasms while you move or twist, you will know you have a muscle relate pain. 

In other words you would call it a muscle strain or sprain. These can be treated at home by doing the following:

  • Try and apply ice before you apply heat. Use ice for at least for the first 48 – 72 hours.
  • Reduce your physical activities. After a couple of weeks or 3 , start exercising again, but slowly.
  • Stay away from any activity that would need you to twist your back. Also do not lift anything heavy till 6 weeks get completed.
  • Take painkillers prescribed over the counter if need be.

If this doesn’t help, please consult your doctor.

Bone- related Pain or Degenerative or herniated disc

It normally feels like a general ache in the entire lower back area. Age at times plays a significant role when you experience such type of pain. 

After one crosses the age of 65, sometime they may experience back pain that is arthritic. This happens because the bones lose the cushions that were between them before. 

This makes the bones rub against each other and cause the arthritic pain.

Due to aging the spinal disc sometimes experience a great amount of wear and tear. This is called the degenerative disc disease. These discs that are part of your back, actually help absorb shock caused by running and other activities. 

But when they weaken, your back could be prone to back aches.

Then there is also the ruptured or slipped disc which is also known as a herniated disc. This happens when the inside part of your discs that are between the vertebrae, pushes out through your outer ring. 

This sometimes can damage the nerve permanently. You will need to consult your doctor if this happens. 

He or she will guide you in getting yourself treated the alright way. In severe cases, a surgery may have to be involved.


Poor posture is one of the common causes of back pain. This is termed as hyperlordosis. You will find the person suffering from this kind of pain to have their spine curved inward in their lower back to a large extent than normal. 

As a result of which their stomach will protrude and their bottom will be pushed outward. You will notice the C shaped arch when they stand in front of the mirror.

This normally happens when one is obese, has rickets, or an injured spine, has some neuromuscular disease, or has structural issues. And, you can correct this mostly by correcting your body posture. 

This can be done by incorporating exercises and stretches. This type of pain does not necessarily involve medical treatment.

Some of the exercises to correct the posture that one could try at their homes are:

  • Use circulator movement for your shoulders in such a way that your shoulders move up and down while doing the circle. Push your shoulders forward going up, and outward at the back when going down.
  • Stretch you arms to your shoulder level and move them in a circular movement, but slowly.
  • Pretend to be sitting on a chair and squat down while standing.
  • Stand tall, and take your one hand and place it over one ear. The other hand that is free, make sure to rest that hand and arm flat on your side. After this, lean towards the ear that is not covered by your hand.

Sometimes doctors may recommend going in for a weight reduction program or may recommend some medication.

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Cause of back pain experienced by overweight runners

Our back is a very important part of our body. It is needed for our every moment. And the posture that we maintain plays a vital role in deciding the health of our back.

Most of us have to sit throughout the day in the office. Sitting like this could make our hips and back tight. And tight hips means restricting the running strides to an extent where one’s body has to depend on the lower back and surrounding area muscles to stretch more and complete the required stride. 

This can lead to lower back pains. If this pain spreads to other parts of the body, you will need to see your doctor.

When running, one has to run by keeping their body in a vertical position for a long time. The longer you run, the more your back has to work to help you move forward.

Your lower back mainly depends on your leg coordination and the core strength. Your lower back and spine need the core muscles to work harder while your hips, core, hamstrings, and glutes have to combine forces for your stability. 

When a particular muscle or few muscles together get tired, the lower back is made to work harder. Only then can you be on your feet and upright. This overwork imposed on the lower back could lead to pain or an injury.

The head position also has a role to play sometimes in contributing towards your back pain, especially the upper back. This normally happens when you jut out your head in front of your body while running.

The movement of the arms is no less a culprit. When running, if you keep your arms too high and tight, this could cause tension in your shoulders going  till your ears and thus causing pain in the upper back.

How to Prevent Back Pain for Overweight Runners

Whenever you decide to bring some change, you need to make your body adapt to this changes slowly and gradually. So when you decide to run to reduce your weight and stay fit, you need to develop a solid running base. 

This will give your body the time needed to take in the pressure created at various points of the back and legs and avoid any injury.

You need to include strength training if you wish to protect your lower back from any pain or injury. When your muscles are strong, they can handle pressure. 

Strong core muscles present on both sides of your spine help to give your back the required support. There are many exercises that help strengthen your muscles. Even physical therapy and yoga help in most cases.

Exercises to prevent back pain while running when overweight

Fortunately, we do have ways to reduce the stress on our backs that help making running more comfortable.

Some of the strengthening exercises that could be followed are:

Ball Pikes

This exercise helps in strengthening the core and your back. It also helps in increasing the flexibility and mobility of your hip.

You could start this exercise by taking an exercise ball and resting your shins on it. Your hands should be placed on the floor that should be more than shoulder width apart while your arms remain straight. 

Move the ball inwards towards your chest as you lift your hips to the highest point possible. Make sure you do not bend your knees while doing so. 

Pause at this top position for a bit before you start slowly rolling it back. Repeat this for 10 to 20 minutes in 3 rounds.

Warrior Three Hamstring Extension 

Your hamstrings and glutes can be strengthened by just doing one move forever. For this you need to make sure that your hip is flexible, your core is strengthened and your balance and stability is improved. 

So to start, stand on your feet that will be apart matching your hips width. Then, fold one knee going inward facing your chest while extending the rest of the leg outward in front of you. 

Take your arms up above your head with palms facing inwards. Take a pause and bend forward from your hip while you move your leg from front to the bak. You body should for a “T”. 

Do this ten times in one side and then ten times the next. You can then switch legs. Do three rounds of this exercise.

Bicycle Crunches

This type of crunches let’s you have a flexible hip and a core that is strong. When you have these two sorted, you will be able to run without any back pain. 
To start this exercise, you need to live down on your back. Your shins should be parallel to your ceiling. Then start to get one of your legs to the front. 
While doing so try to touch your knee to your opposite elbow. Switch the position after pausing a bit. Your heel should be above the ground. 

You need to do these bicycle crunches 10 times each side. And this should be done in 3 rounds.


Running is an activity that has a high impact on the body. The back is especially affected more. When you do strength training and exercise combined with necessary stretches of the back, hamstrings and the calves, a lot of back pain caused because of running will be prevented.

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