Is Running Bad For Your Back?


We frequently get asked questions such as-

  • Will running cause backache?
  • Am I safe to return to running?
  • Should I stop running to help my back?
  • Will I end up with chronic back pain because I run so much?

We have good news for all you keen runners….

Running is GOOD for your BACK!!!!

There is a lot of depressing information about how our sedentary lifestyle is bad for us, and can cause our spines to eventually degenerate. There is also lots of evidence which supports the idea that high-impact sporting activities are just as bad for our backs too.

Understandably, this can cause a lot of confusion. From a medical perspective, on-off loading or repetitive exercises are good for backs, and this includes running.

The most recent evidence has confirmed that running in men and women is associated with improved spinal health – especially the discs in your spinal column.  

As we age and degenerate, the height in your discs will naturally reduce over time and can lead to lower back pain.  With repetitive loading such as running, the height and hydration are maintained between your discs – and in some cases, they can even increase.

However, the above benefits are subject to the speed at which you enjoy running.  The optimal speed is either fast walking or slow running (no more than 2 metres a second).

These findings are exciting as they’re the first findings that conclude running (repetitive on-off loading) to be beneficial for your back health.  

We all need to be aware that there may be other factors within running or our health that could affect our back.  If you have any questions or concerns on whether running is suitable, advisable, beneficial or detrimental please don’t hesitate to contact us at the Markland Clinic.


So, if you see me pounding the streets of Cirencester in aid to care for my spine, please do give me a wave of encouragement!

Abigail Weber

Senior Physiotherapist


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