People with back problems often associate running and back pain. Their primary complaint centers around the increases in lower back pain from the foot strike forces during running and jogging. Consequently, people will tend to discontinue healthy exercise regimens as a result.
Although the back can become painful during running and jogging, the problem is made worse by people’s unrealistic beliefs about activity and back pain. There is no question that running can create problems in the lower extremity such as knee pain, plantar fasciitis, or hip pain due to the stresses caused by repetitive foot strikes. Although nothing can change the some 600 foot strikes per kilometer involved with running, there may be a way to lessen the foot strike forces associated with running.
One of the tips for back pain relief related to running may involve running without shoes. The results from a recent study published in the Harvard Gazette suggests that running without shoes may reduce foot strike forces by about two thirds. For people with back problems, a reduction in the repetitive forces involved with running and jogging my lead to lower back pain relief.
Foot strike forces are reduced in barefoot runners due to the difference in running style. Barefoot runners tend to land on the middle and front of the foot while shoed runners tend to land on their heels. This difference results in less collision forces in barefoot runners because heel striking is painful in barefoot runners.
While this study demonstrates the possibility of force reduction during running, the actual practicality of changing to a different running style is questionable. More research is clearly needed to determine if barefoot running will reduce the injury rate in runners.
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