Health Tips

Strong Muscles Prevent Back Problems in Running

Back pain is very common. Most people experience back pain at least once in their lives. Sports physician Patrik Noack provides information on what you should consider and how to prevent pain.

Author: Dr. med. Patrik Noack, specialist in General Internal Medicine SGIM and Sports Medicine SGSM, Head of Medbase Medical and Sports Center in Abtwil



What are the most common back problems among runners?

Many runners complain of lower back pain caused by the “arched back” posture when running. In this position, the pelvis tilts, and the lower spine curves more forward. This creates a constant pull on the lower back muscles, leading to tension and pain.

What causes the arched back posture?

Weak back and gluteal muscles, as well as weak abductors (the side thigh muscles), cause the pelvis to tilt during running. Shortened hip flexors and excess body weight are also common reasons.

How are poor posture and back pain related?

The spine has a double S-curve, which gives it high stability and load-bearing capacity (shock-absorbing function). Poor posture with pronounced muscular imbalances quickly leads to pain.

What are the first signs of back problems?

Initial symptoms can include tense muscles, a protective posture, or morning “joint stiffness.”

Are there preventive exercises?

To prevent back pain, regular strength training 2-3 times a week is recommended. Targeted movement training strengthens the back muscles, helping to prevent back pain. Physiotherapists can professionally support you with advice and assistance.

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Should you continue running with back pain?

Yes, a 2005 study compared specific back exercises with light endurance activities like jogging. It concluded that non-specific endurance activities such as running and cycling relieve back pain better than specific back exercises.

How should you behave in case of a herniated disc causing back pain?

In general, moderate jogging is an excellent sport for the intervertebral discs, as it massages and nourishes them. Physical activity like jogging can thus protect against back pain caused by a herniated disc. However, after a hernia with deficit symptoms or muscle paralysis, which may even have required surgery, a running break of several weeks is necessary. The duration varies depending on the level of activity. It is best to discuss this with your doctor.

How to treat acute back pain?

Stay active; movement promotes a quick improvement of symptoms. Try to maintain your usual physical activity as much as possible or gradually resume it. Stretching can help preventively and in case of illness. However, with acute pain, you should be cautious when stretching to avoid causing severe pain. Heat helps relax the muscles. Use a heating pad, a warm compress, or a heat patch on the painful area. For severe pain, temporary pain relievers can help. It is important that the back pain is bearable enough for you to move normally in daily life.


Who is Medbase?

Medbase is the largest multidisciplinary sports medicine network in Switzerland and offers specialized sports medicine services for athletes, clubs, and sports associations at all levels of activity in the areas of sports medicine, sports physiotherapy, performance diagnostics, and training advice.

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