Preventing Lower Back Pain and Neck Pain in Runners: Tips from your Chiropractor in Cornelius NC

When it comes to taking care of your body and mind, exercise is one of the most effective ways to do so. Everyone has their favorite method of exercise, however, when the temperatures start to rise and the flowers begin to bloom, many people prefer to head outdoors and go for a run. And for good reason! Running is one of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, and still ensure you get your daily exercise in. While the benefits of running are nearly endless, it is important to remember that running, whether outdoors in your neighborhood or inside on a treadmill, can lead you to injury and pain.

Fortunately, there are several tips and tricks you can utilize to help prevent injury and pain from occurring after your run. It is important to note, however, that while a certain degree of soreness can be expected after you exercise, you should not find yourself in a state of prolonged discomfort, or experiencing pain that is very sharp. By implementing these recommendations into your workout routine, you’ll be able to avoid the side effects of running and continue to get yourself out on the road whether that’s in Cornelius NC, or beyond! 

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Tip #1- Stay Hydrated Throughout the Day

Staying hydrated during exercise seems like a no-brainer, but too often people aren’t getting the proper hydration that they need. Did you know that dehydration can lead to neck pain? Yep, that’s right! Dehydration is actually a common culprit of neck stiffness and neck pain in runners. Why does this happen? This occurs because when your body is dehydrated your muscles, tendons, and ligaments get tighter which can contribute to pain in the neck. A lot of runners will also find that their lack of hydration will lead to headaches, which often cause tension to build up in the neck and shoulders.

The key to combating these issues? Staying well hydrated, before, during, and after your run. Not only does hydration help prevent cervical disc degeneration, yet another cause of neck pain, but it also promotes spinal health as your spine discs are comprised mostly of water and collagen. Drinking enough water keeps the discs between your spine’s vertebrae lubricated, helping to maintain disc height and spinal alignment. If you are an outdoor runner, keep in mind that higher temperatures call for greater water intake. Make certain that you have plenty of water to drink during your run, especially if you plan to be gone for an hour or more.

Tip #2 Do Not Gaze at the Ground

When people are running, they often look down at the ground to make sure they won’t collide with anything. This is particularly true of people who are going on a run in a new place or exercising on uneven terrain. Unpaved roads and hiking trails, in particular, can be hazardous if you’re attempting to run on them. Furthermore, most people don’t realize just how often they look down, causing them to strain their necks in the process. That, or they simply believe that when they do look down, it’s only their eyes that are moving. In actuality, constantly gazing down to check your position will impact your eyes, neck, and other body parts like your hips and knees, due to an overall lack of proper posture.

The solution is simple enough, right? Just stop looking down! However, this is much easier said than done, especially if you’re the type who lets your body operate on autopilot once you get into your exercising groove. To combat gazing at the ground, you can start by becoming more actively aware of your body movements. Instead of zoning out when you go for a run, try, and stay aware of how often you’re looking down. You can also limit your gazing by slightly tucking your chin in and keeping your eyes toward the horizon as you run. This will help naturally direct your body according to your line of site, 

Tip #3 Maintain Good Posture

Maintaining good posture is arguably one of the most important steps of all. Your posture will determine how your body performs both before, during, and after your run. Lower back and neck pain is often caused by bad posture, and posture can become especially strained when you are running. If you have bad posture in your day-to-day life, it’s a good idea to try and be cognizant of your posture throughout the day, even when you’re not exercising. Eventually, proper posture will become second nature, and you’ll find it also translates into your exercise routine. 

Another body part that you should be aware of when running is your arms. Excessive pumping of your arms can cause issues with neck and shoulder pain. Even though it may feel natural to swing your arms as you run, this movement can definitely have negative effects on your posture. For instance, if you swing your arms from side-to-side, and over your chest, your body will tend to strain itself in order to accommodate your position. In general, you should try and limit excessive movement of your arms when running. Keep in mind that the majority of your movement should be coming from your shoulders, not your arms. 

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Tip #4 Invest in the Proper Footwear

Proper footwear is something every serious runner should invest in. Not only can good footwear lower your risk of injury, but it can also make your run more comfortable, improve your performance, conserve your energy, help you maintain a correct gait, and reduce lower back pain. There are different types of running shoes available, and each of them serves a specific purpose, which is why it’s a good idea to get fitted for the correct type by an expert. 

How do you find the perfect running shoe? A lot of running stores actually have ways to test your running by assessing your gait and the way your feet move while in motion. Following an assessment, they can recommend the ideal shoe that will optimize your performance, and help you avoid pain.

Tip #5 Know When to Get Professional Help

To a degree, soreness is totally normal, and to be expected, after a run. However, if you notice post-run that your pain is prolonged, or extremely sharp in nature, even after you’ve taken preventative measures, it might be time to look into seeing a professional Chiropractor Cornelius NC. Professionals can determine if the problem requires medical treatment and provide more preventative tips like Physical Rehab Cornelius NC for future exercise.

At Lakeside Sports Chiropractic and Physical Therapy in Cornelius, NC, Dr. Jennifer Lidstrom and her team of experts are here to help answer all your questions.  Please feel free to contact us today.


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