I Am 50+, Does Running Affect My Back?

Regular running is an effective way to reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, and obesity – especially if you are an older adult.

I Am 50+, Does Running Affect My Back?

The effect of running in your body is that it increases the metabolism rate and leads to better bone density for a measurable boost in overall health. However, you may be worried that running could, in some way, be too much for your back. Whether running is good or bad for your back depends on several factors that you need to weigh out. To help you understand how exactly running may impact your back, continue reading.

Back Pain in Older Adults

Low back pain is a fairly common condition affecting up to 90% of all people at some point in their lives. While the condition usually resolves on its own after a couple of weeks, recurrence of lower back pain is fairly common after the first episode. The majority of low back pain cases are caused by muscle straining or other injuries.

On the other hand, persistent pain may be a sign of tumors or a herniated disk. This is especially true when the pain is accompanied by numbness and tingling in the legs. Arthritis may also cause pain in the lumbar discs. Therefore, running for older adults is tremendously healthy as it supports the aging bodies especially on preventing the back pain that may lower the well-being of the body.

The Impact of Running on the Back

While running is known to support cardiovascular health, boost oxygen intake, and increase feelings of well-being, it can also affect your musculoskeletal health as well. Generally, running strengthens the muscle and bones and helps prevent bone density loss and improve muscle strength in older adults. Marathon running is a frequent cause of concern for older adults due to the increased possibility of injuries with this sport. But even then, these injuries are a result of straining and fractures that usually happen when running for more than 40 miles a week, and not having enough running experience.

As far as back pain is concerned, running can strengthen the back muscles and bring support to the spinal discs. In fact, one study found that running provided more favorable than unfavorable effect to those experiencing back pain.

Running are Favorable

What about Arthritis?

Osteoarthritis and even rheumatoid arthritis may be the cause of back pain in some. Arthritis sufferers may worry that putting too much force on their already damaged joints could worsen their condition. But according to an article published in Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America, participating in exercising can help stabilize the spine.

According to the same article, the idea that jogging can lead to lower back pain in predisposed individuals is a common misconception – the opposite may actually be true. The trick is to know how to run properly. Poor biomechanics in running are the only concern that could lead to back pain, especially in osteoarthritis sufferers. Some poor running techniques examples are an excessive forward lean, as well as not making proper shock absorption by giving at the ankle, knee, and hip joints.

Aside from knowing the right way to run, another good way you could avoid injuring your back while running is by warming up prior to a jogging session or even better – taking up swimming and other low impact sports before switching to running.

What if I am Experiencing Back Pain after Running?

Because running involves repetitive stress and impact on the muscles and joints, chances are that you may have strained your back too much. Spine-Health recommends self-care techniques when post running back pain is brought on by muscle strain.


*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.

Some options to consider are resting for one to two days, gentle stretching, using ice packs to the painful area for a couple of minutes at a time, and using over-the-counter pain relievers. However, if you are experiencing severe pain that is radiating towards your legs, make sure to contact your doctor as this may be a result of a herniated disk.

Counter Pain Relievers

So, Should I Run?

Running is in most cases a good activity that could help you maintain overall health. A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise compared the effects of running in younger and older adults. The study found that older adults who ran habitually had even better control over their movements than their younger counterparts. This means that running can help you maintain healthy movements as you age which can be good for your bones, joints, muscles, and overall health. Running is also good for your heart, lungs, and mental health. However, this only applies when you know the proper mechanics of running.


Running is a great activity for a great number of reasons. This type of exercising requires nothing more than your free time and a bit of will. It is always readily available and has a social aspect to it. You also get to spend more time outdoors and get plenty of air and sunlight.

Injuries from running are few, and even though you may be afraid that running may negatively impact your back, keep in mind that long hours of sitting are much more detrimental to your back health than running could ever be. Thus, you should allocate time to exercise daily for you to enjoy the effects of running in overall endurance and health of the back.

If you do not want to cease running, you can use various alternatives to protect your joints from damage. You can go for a pain relief supplement such as Omega XL which is specially designed to treat joint pain. It is manufactured using natural ingredients which target the cause of pain.



Sam Kramer is a Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, Six Sigma Green Belt Certified, and Certified Sports Nutritionis

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