The short answer to the question posed by the title of this article is yes.

Running can cause back pain.

However, there’s a bit more to it than that, so we’ll explain in more detail.

First, running or jogging isn’t guaranteed to cause lower back pain, but it can in some cases. This is especially true if you’re a new runner, if you have a history of running, if you have taken some time away from it, and if you are running again without gradually getting back to it.  Running can also exacerbate existing back pain in some cases.

Far and away the most common cause of running related back pain is muscle pain.  This type of pain rarely affects experienced runners, but new or newly returned runners can certainly experience it.

Essentially, muscle-related back pain is caused when the muscles in your glutes, hamstrings, hips and core aren’t strong enough to support the activity you’re pursuing, which causes your lower back to try and take up the slack, working overtime to keep you upright and stable.

Runners may also experience bone-related back pain caused by bulging or slipping discs or arthritis.  This, however, is relatively uncommon compared to the muscle-related pain described above. In general, runners are aware of these conditions before they begin running and account for them properly.

Regardless of the type of pain you’re feeling, however, there are a few simple things you can do to alleviate your discomfort. The first and most obvious thing is stretching, both as a warm up and as a cooldown when you’ve finished your run.

A good stretching routine sends signals to your body that work is about to begin and gears them up and gets them ready for the trials ahead.  Similarly, a vigorous stretch after the run limits the amount of muscle pain you’re likely to feel post-run, which isn’t a perfect ward against back pain, but helps considerably. As an added benefit, you will become more flexible if you stretch before and after running.

Ultimately when dealing with muscle-related back pain, the best thing you can do for yourself is build up your core muscles so they can properly support you, which takes pressure off of your back!