I have been suffering from lower back pain caused from degeneration of the discs. I don’t want to stop running! What can I do to help prevent further damage?
I would advise you to consult a sport physiotherapist for deep tissue massage of the lower back muscles, stretching of the hamstrings, lower back and buttocks. He/She will also give you a good core strengthening programme to follow. At home, you can use heat (a beanbag or a hot water bottle) on the painful area for 20 minutes twice a day. Take anti-infl ammatory medication after meals for no longer than seven days.
Looking after your back is the most important part of preventing any further damage. Firstly, the impact from running is not going to help; make sure your shoes are replaced every season or 1 000km. Run with the correct shoes (ask an expert at a running shop for assistance). If you are overweight, try to lose a few kilograms as extra weight places more stress on the discs of your back.
Sleep on a fi rm mattress and try to sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees. If you prefer to sleep on your back, place the pillow under your knees. This will help to prevent further damage. Never sleep on your stomach. When sitting at work or in the car, always maintain good posture and use the
backrest of your chair. Don’t slouch as this causes positive disc damage.
Lifting heavy objects is never a good idea, but when picking up anything from the floor or even when brushing your teeth, make sure you bend your knees and not your back. Carrying objects close to your
body also lessens the stress on the lower back.
David van Wyk – Modern Athlete Expert
BPyst (UP), MPhil (Sports Physiotherapy) (UCT)