Tuesday, November 1, 2011

If Only It Were the Legs

Sometime last week, I noticed that there was a point of discomfort in the middle of my back, but it wasn't bothering me much at all, it was just something I noticed. I was running normally, I was sleeping normally and aside from the occasional "grab" I probably would have forgotten about it. Then I went for a long run on Saturday, my longest run ever actually, a 10+ miler. I felt great, I ran great, but when I got back I noticed that that point of discomfort had become a little more pronounced. Later that night it was really starting to bother me and it bothered me during most of my off-day the next day. I woke up yesterday morning and it was not really that bad so I decided to go for a run at lunch yesterday and I only made it a mile before my back had completed seized up and I couldn't really breathe. I would describe the pain as a "spasm" of sorts, though it doesn't seem to be connected to any muscles, it's more in my actual spine, right in middle of my back.

I slept fine last night, though I feel it seemingly every time I move. I was thinking last night, as runners, most of us are usually concerned that we will injure our legs in some way, whether it's an IT band issue or knee problem or shin splints, our efforts in preventing injury are usually centered around protecting our legs. That makes sense given the pivotal role working legs play into the running thing, but as I'm experiencing now and have experienced in the past, a hurt back can sideline you just as quickly. I wish it were my legs that were hurt, because when you have achilles tendonitis or shin splints you have a pretty good idea of how long it will take to heal. Here I was thinking I was fine to run yesterday only to have the problem flare up again and now I don't know how long it will be.

I guess I'm not too disappointed to have this injury now. I do have a 5K coming up in about 12 days, but I think with some appropriate rest and stretching, I should be ready to go for that. I had planned to take a 1-2 week break after Thanksgiving as a means of letting my body rest for awhile. Jack Daniels' recommends taking an extended break from running at least once per year and it seems like well-reasoned advice. I really pushed it in October running 116 miles which is, by far, the most miles I've logged in any month this year. I didn't break the 10% rule anywhere along the way, but I can tell that my body needs a break. I would love to hear from those of you out there who have had back injuries in the past - particularly I'd love to hear about various stretches I can do to alleviate some of the discomfort.


  1. Sorry to hear about the back pain Adam. I can tell you that they are tricky and can take time depending on the injury. I tweaked my upper back last year and can still feel it from time to time, but fortunately it doesn't affect my running, though my current groin injury does! Take care of yourself and follow through with your rest plan. Oh yeah, if it hurts go to the Dr. My main problem has always been being too hardheaded to go to the Dr.

  2. Back pain is tricky. Unlike leg, knee, IT band, etc., back problems for runners usually come from something else. Finding the root cause can be tough. I'd ice the area that's giving you pain and JUST NOT RUN for at least two days. Targeted core work has helped me with back pain in the past. Also, are you sleeping differently? New mattress? Years ago I was sleeping on a sleep sofa and developed back pain. I bought a platform bed and it cleared up my problem. Hope you are pain free soon...