Sprain-and-Strain Syndrome

Though back pain may be caused by spinal fractures and degenerative diseases, in the majority of cases the cause of pain is due to sprain-and-strain type injuries. Sprain-and-Strain injuries, or Sprain-and-Strain Syndrome, occurs when either the ligaments of the spine become sprained, or the muscles of the spine become strained. A sprain refers to a stretching of the ligaments beyond a healthy range of motion, and strain is a strain of the muscles that support the spine.

Sprain and strain injuries are often caused by a single event, such as an accident, that causes the muscles to become challenged beyond a weight that the muscle can bear, or then the ligament is stretched beyond a range that it can manage without become injuries. A Sprain-and-Strain Syndrome, on the other hand, may describe injuries to the muscles and ligaments that occur as a result of repetitive stress on the muscles and soft tissues of the lower back. Repetitive stress injuries may occur when a person exercises or runs using improper techniques that stress the muscles and ligaments of the lower back, or when a person does a lot of running.

Let's take a look at the effect that heavy running can have on the lower back.

Runners and Back Pain. Running puts a high level of repetitive stress on the lower back, and some runners experience lower back pain during and after running sessions. Though running is a high impact exercise that may put significant strain on the lower back regardless of the precautions you take, there are several things you can do to minimize the risk of you becoming injured or straining the muscles and ligaments of your lower back.

  • Wear supportive, comfortable shoes. You should wear shoes that are specifically designed for running. Good running shoes should have shock-absorbing cushions in the heel to reduce the impact on your joints when your foot hits the ground.
  • Consider cross-training, rather than just running as your only form of aerobic exercise. Cross-training, also known as circuit training, refers to the participation in more than one sport or type of exercise. Cross-training decreases the possibility of repetitive-stress injuries and muscle imbalances that occur when certain muscles are challenged more than others.
  • Before beginning a run, do some warm up exercises or movements. Many eastern health systems, such as Yoga or Tai Chi, involve fluid movements that aren't physically taxing but will allow the body, and its muscles, the chance to warm up before vigorous runs.
  • Hamstring stretches may decrease the chance that you will develop an injury or lower back pain. The hamstrings are large muscle groups on the back of your upper thigh. You should stretch your hamstring muscles twice a day, and especially before and after significant runs.
  • Core muscle strengthening will be important for back health, regardless of what shape you feel you are in. Strength training and muscle toning to increase the strength of the abdominal and back muscles may increase the frequency and length of running that you may be able to do without experiencing back pain.
  • Try to vary the types of surfaces that you run on. Hard cement and pavement puts the most stress on the joints in your legs, hips, and lower back. Try running on some surfaces that have some give to them, such as rubber tracks or grass. Running on beaches may be an excellent option if one is available in your area.