Lower back pain is a common condition characterized by pain and discomfort in the lumbar region of the spine. The lower back consists of five vertebrae (L1-L5) that support the weight of the upper body and provide flexibility and movement. Lower back pain can be acute or chronic, and it can range from mild to severe. Acute lower back pain typically lasts for a few days to a few weeks, while chronic lower back pain lasts for more than three months.

Lower back pain can be caused by various factors, and it's essential to identify the specific cause for effective treatment. Here is a list of possible reasons for lower back pain:

  1. Muscle Strain:
    Overuse or improper use of back muscles can lead to strains, often resulting from lifting heavy objects or sudden movements.
  2. Lumbar Herniated Disc:
    The soft interior of a disc in the spine can push through the outer layer, causing pain if it presses on a nerve. Most commonly occurs in L4-L5 and L5-S1 regions.
  3. Degenerative Disc Disease:
    The natural aging process can lead to the deterioration of intervertebral discs, causing pain and discomfort.
  4. Spinal Stenosis:
    Narrowing of the spinal canal, which houses the spinal cord and nerves, can cause compression and lead to pain.
  5. Osteoarthritis:
    Wear and tear of the joints and cartilage in the spine can result in arthritis-related lower back pain.
  6. Spondylolisthesis:
    A condition where a vertebra slips forward over the vertebra below it, causing strain on the lower back.
  7. Sciatica:
    Compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, often caused by a herniated disc or bone spur.
  8. Muscle Imbalances:
    Weak or tight muscles in the back, abdomen, or pelvis can contribute to lower back pain.
  9. Trauma or Injury:
    Accidents, falls, or injuries to the spine can cause acute or chronic lower back pain.
  10. Poor Posture:
    Prolonged periods of sitting or standing with improper posture can strain the lower back.
  11. Kidney Stones:
    Kidney stones can cause pain that radiates to the lower back.
  12. Infections:
    Infections of the spine or surrounding tissues can lead to lower back pain.
  13. Fibromyalgia:
    A condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, including the lower back.
  14. Endometriosis:
    In women, endometrial tissue growing outside the uterus can cause lower back pain during menstruation.
  15. Ankylosing Spondylitis:
    A type of inflammatory arthritis affecting the spine, leading to stiffness and pain.

It's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment based on the specific cause of lower back pain.

Lower back pain symptoms

Typical Symptoms

The symptoms of lower back pain vary depending on the severity and location of the injury. However, some common symptoms of lower back pain in endurance athletes include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the lower back: Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms of lower back pain. The pain can be dull, aching, or sharp, and it can be constant or intermittent.
  • Radiating pain: Pain may radiate down the buttocks and legs, sometimes causing numbness and tingling.
  • Limited range of motion: Limited range of motion in the lower back can make it difficult to bend or twist.
  • Muscle spasms: Muscle spasms in the lower back can cause sudden and severe pain.

Risk Factors in Endurance Sport

Endurance athletes are at an increased risk of developing lower back pain due to the demands of their sport. Some risk factors for lower back pain in endurance athletes include:

  • Repetitive motion: Endurance sports require repetitive motion, which can cause overuse injuries, including lower back pain.
  • High-impact activities: Running and cycling are high-impact activities that can put stress on the lower back muscles and joints.
  • Poor posture: Poor posture, such as slouching or arching the back, can put extra stress on the lower back muscles and increase the risk of injury.
  • Weak core muscles: Weak core muscles can contribute to poor posture and increase the risk of lower back pain.
  • Improper footwear: Improper footwear, such as shoes that lack support or have worn-out soles, can cause improper alignment and lead to lower back pain.
  • Inadequate rest and recovery: Inadequate rest and recovery can lead to muscle imbalances and increase the risk of injury.
lower back pain home treatment

Home Treatment for Lower Back Pain

  • Rest: Try to avoid activities that aggravate your back pain and take time to rest and relax.
  • Hot and cold therapy: Apply heat or ice packs to the affected area. Use ice packs for the first 48 to 72 hours and then switch to heat therapy.
  • Exercise: Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises can help to relieve pain and improve flexibility.
  • Over-the-counter pain medication: Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Good posture: Maintain good posture when sitting or standing. Avoid slouching or hunching over.
  • Massage therapy: Massaging the affected area can help to reduce muscle tension and relieve pain.
  • Sleep on a supportive mattress: Choose a mattress that supports the natural curve of your spine and provides adequate support for your lower back.
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture can help to reduce pain and improve mobility by stimulating the body's natural healing processes.

Home Treatment We Recommend

In addition to stretching, there are some powerful home treatment strategies that can help alleviate lower back pain in endurance athletes. Two extremely effective methods are spine decompression and acupressure.

lower back decompression

Spine Decompression

Spine decompression is a technique that involves gently stretching the spine to relieve pressure and tension. There are a few different ways to perform spine decompression at home:

  • Inversion table: An inversion table allows you to hang upside down, which can help decompress the spine. Start with a gentle angle and work your way up to a steeper angle over time. It's important to follow the instructions carefully and to never overdo it.
  • Yoga poses: Certain yoga poses, such as downward dog and standing forward bend, can help decompress the spine. Make sure to use proper form and avoid any poses that cause pain or discomfort.
  • Foam roller: Lie on a foam roller with it positioned under your lower back. Slowly roll back and forth, allowing the roller to massage and stretch your back muscles.
  • Nubax Trio: our favourite! Nubax provides gentle yet strong controllable spinal traction using your body weight
acupressure for lower back pain

Acupressure for Lower Back Pain

Acupressure mats have gained popularity in recent years as a tool for relieving lower back pain and other types of pain and tension. An acupressure mat is a small mat covered in spikes or nodes that stimulate acupressure points on the body. Here's how you can use an acupressure mat at home to help alleviate lower back pain:

  • Place the mat on a flat surface: Lay the acupressure mat on a flat surface, such as a bed or the floor.
  • Lie down on the mat: Lie down on the mat with your back against the spikes or nodes. Start with a few minutes at a time, gradually working your way up to longer sessions.
  • Relax and breathe deeply: Take slow, deep breaths and try to relax your muscles as much as possible.
  • Move your body: If you feel any areas of tension or pain, gently move your body to help release the tension.
  • Focus on your lower back: Spend extra time focusing on the acupressure points in your lower back to help relieve lower back pain.
  • Use regularly: To get the most benefit from an acupressure mat, use it regularly, ideally daily.

It's important to note that acupressure mats are not a substitute for professional medical care, and should be used in conjunction with other treatments and under the guidance of a healthcare provider. Additionally, if you have any underlying medical conditions or injuries, it's important to speak with your healthcare provider before using an acupressure mat.

Prevention of Lower Back Pain

Preventing lower back pain is crucial for endurance athletes to maintain their performance and avoid long periods of time off due to injury. Some prevention strategies for lower back pain include:

  • Proper warm-up and cool-down: Warming up before exercise and cooling down after exercise can help prepare the muscles for activity and prevent injury.
  • Stretching: Regular stretching can help increase flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Strengthening exercises: Strengthening exercises that target the lower back muscles, such as back extensions and core exercises, can help prevent lower back pain.
  • Gradual increase in training: Endurance athletes should gradually increase their training intensity and volume to prevent overuse injuries.
  • Proper form: Maintaining proper form during endurance sports, particularly when cycling or running, can help reduce the risk of lower back pain.

Stretching Excercises to Prevent Lower Back Pain

Stretching can be an effective way to prevent lower back pain in endurance athletes. Here are some stretching exercises that can help:

  • Cat-cow stretch: Start on your hands and knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale as you arch your back and look up toward the ceiling (cow pose), then exhale as you round your spine and tuck your chin into your chest (cat pose). Repeat for several breaths.
  • Child's pose: Start on your hands and knees, then sit back on your heels and stretch your arms forward. Lower your forehead to the floor and breathe deeply.
  • Cobra stretch: Lie face down with your hands under your shoulders and your elbows close to your body. Slowly push up with your arms, lifting your chest off the floor and arching your back. Hold for several breaths, then release.
  • Hamstring stretch: Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Reach forward and grab your toes, then gently pull yourself forward until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Hold for several breaths, then release.
  • Hip flexor stretch: Kneel on one knee with your other foot in front of you. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in your hip flexor, then hold for several breaths. Repeat on the other side.
  • Pigeon pose: Start on your hands and knees, then bring your right knee forward and place it behind your right wrist. Stretch your left leg behind you, keeping your hips square. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in your hips and lower back. Hold for several breaths, then repeat on the other side.

It's important to remember to never force a stretch and to always listen to your body. If a stretch causes pain or discomfort, stop immediately. These stretching exercises should be done regularly as part of a warm-up and cool-down routine to help prevent lower back pain.


Lower back pain is a common complaint among endurance athletes, including runners, triathletes, and cyclists. The repetitive and high-impact nature of endurance sports can cause strain and stress on the lower back muscles and joints, leading to pain and discomfort. It is important for endurance athletes to understand the definition of lower back pain, common symptoms, home treatment options, prevention strategies, and risk factors. Preventing lower back pain through proper warm-up and cool-down, stretching, strengthening exercises, gradual training intensity, proper footwear, and proper form can help athletes avoid the injury and maintain their performance. It is important to seek medical attention for severe lower back pain and to follow a rehabilitation program to prevent re-injury.

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