Chronic back pain is a common issue that many people suffer from. While several things can contribute to back pain, the impact on regular activities can be frustrating. Running is often one of the main culprits of acute and chronic back pain. The repetitive impact of pounding the pavement can put a strain on the lower back, which can lead to further pain and discomfort.
However, running on a treadmill can benefit those with back pain. Treadmills offer a consistent surface to run on, which can help reduce stress on the lower back. Additionally, treadmills are equipped with shock-absorbing decks, which can further protect the lower back.
If you are trying to return to running after an acute injury or another flare-up, read on to see why we recommend starting back on a treadmill.
Here are 5 reasons why running on a treadmill is better than outside for back pain
Treadmills provide a consistent surface to run on.
It’s no secret that running can be tough on the back. The constant pounding of the pavement can lead to all sorts of problems, from lower back pain to loss of motivation. But what if there were a way to reduce the impact on your back and still get all the benefits of running? That’s where treadmills come in.
Treadmills offer a consistent surface to run on, which can help reduce stress on the lower back. The consistency of the surface allows for complete focus on form to find the mechanics that are least painful for your spine.
You won’t have to worry about uneven ground or potholes running on a treadmill, which can further protect the lower back.
This is especially important if you are returning to running from an acute back injury and don’t want to think about rocks, sticks, and curbs.
The consistency may be boring for those without pain. Still, for those beginning a gradual and progressive return to running, that consistency is key for avoiding a re-injury.
Treadmills offer adjustable settings so you can find the perfect pace
Treadmills have adjustable settings for both the pace and incline, which allows users to find the perfect setting to suit their needs. This is beneficial for those with back pain as it allows them to find a comfortable setting that won’t aggravate their condition.
There are certain conditions of the spine, such as stenosis or arthritis, that are going to benefit from running at an incline. This inclines changes where the pressure is during impact and shifts it to a less aggravating part of the spine.
In addition to adjusting the incline, you can also adjust the pace much easier than if you were running outside. This can be extremely beneficial if you are just starting to run again after an injury or flare-up, as it allows you to ease into things without overdoing it.
The preferred running pace is 170 contacts per minute. At this quicker pace, the forces that transmit through the spine are less due to reduced contact time with the ground. The treadmill allows you to adjust the speed to a tenth of the MPH to find the optimal speed for your body type.
The other benefit of adjustable settings is seeing the time without stopping to look at a watch. That way, when you go back to running, you can start with a spine-friendly interval routine of 1:3 running to walking until your back is ready for more.
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Treadmills are equipped with shock-absorbing decks
Most treadmill decks have shock-absorbing properties, which help protect the lower back from impact as you run. This is especially beneficial for those suffering from back pain as it can help reduce the amount of stress placed on the spine.
One of the main reasons people experience back pain when running is due to the impact on the spine with each foot strike. This impact can cause stress and pain, particularly for those with a condition such as arthritis or stenosis.
The forces in the spine can be worse with certain types of runners. If someone runs with a more upright posture or is more of a heel striker with contact then the forces will be greater in the back than other types of runners.
A treadmill’s shock-absorbing deck helps reduce this impact by absorbing some of the force as you run. This can help to take the pressure off of the spine and make running a more comfortable experience.
Running on a treadmill is a great way to build endurance and track progression
Running on a treadmill is a great way to build endurance and track progressions, which can help reduce back pain in the long run. Treadmills offer a precise time, speed, and incline that you can easily track and adjust. These variables aren’t able to be controlled in any other running setting.
This allows you to systematically control and progress each variable to make your return to running the safest possible.
The safest progress rate is 10-15% per week in either time or distance.
Anything faster than that has shown to have an increased rate of injury. The treadmill makes this incredibly easy to track. With a spreadsheet, you can easily calculate what 10-15% progression is in time or distance and make the return to running scientifically accurate.
After an injury, there is always a risk of causing re-injury as you are trying to get back to prior levels of exercise. Treadmills provide a safe way to build back endurance.
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Treadmills are a great way to get short, high-intensity workouts
Treadmills are a great way to get short, high-intensity workouts in without putting too much strain on the lower back. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of exercise that alternates between short periods of intense activity and brief recovery periods.
HIIT has been shown to be an effective way to improve cardiovascular fitness, burn fat, and increase muscle strength in a short period of time. Additionally, HIIT has been shown to be an effective way to reduce back pain and improve overall functional capacity.
One study found that HIIT was more effective than traditional aerobics in reducing back pain. The study participants who did HIIT experienced a greater reduction in pain intensity and disability than those who did traditional aerobics.
HIIT is a great way to get in a quick, effective workout without putting too much strain on the lower back. Treadmills offer an easy way to add to regular HIIT workouts, as you can simply adjust the speed and incline to suit your needs and work up that 10-15% increase. The shorter bouts of quick running or a change in speed are enough to challenge the body but not long enough to aggravate the back.
The short, high-intensity bouts are great for the heart and improve functional capacity but can easily be controlled on the treadmill to prevent your low back from becoming aggravated again.
Overall, treadmills are a great way to reduce back pain or return from a recent back injury.
They offer a consistent surface to run on, adjustable settings, and shock-absorbing decks that make it easier to customize as you begin your return to running recovery.
Additionally, running on a treadmill can help build endurance and track progress. Treadmills are also a great way to get short, high-intensity workouts in without putting too much strain on the lower back.
If you are returning from a back injury and are concerned about using a treadmill, don’t be. They offer the easiest and most customizable solution for the early part of the recovery and return to running.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is for educational purposes only. This is not a substitute for a medical appointment. Please refer to your physician before starting any exercise program.