After a good run you may expect to be out of breath or that your legs may be sore, but you wouldn’t usually expect to feel upper back, neck or shoulder pain.
It is however not that uncommon. At City Physio our Physiotherapists have noticed that as you increase the intensity and length of your run some runners complain of a sharp pain in their upper back, between or even below their shoulder blades and/ or their trapezius muscle.
This pain is reported more often in runners who are just starting out. The culprit is most often poor running technique and/or weakness in your back muscles. Most of the people that we treat at City Physiotherapy are desk bound in their day jobs and this can lead to postural muscle weakness and imbalances, especially if we don’t perform specific exercises to combat these issues.
Running is a great form of exercise, but let’s face it most of us don’t really think about our running form or posture when we run. If you do have postural muscle weakness (you are most likely unaware if you do have postural muscle weakness), this can lead to flaws in your running form, which will get worse the longer your run and you fatigue.
You know that feeling that as you get tired, your head tends to lean further forward than the rest of your body. As you fatigue you may hyperextend your lower back, which leads to poking your head forwards. Sometimes the run has simply made us tired and we start slouching which leads to your head jutting forwards.
Just imagine holding a heavy medicine ball. That medicine ball is easier to hold when you’re lifting it straight up and down. However, if you hold it further forwards and at an angle in front of you it becomes much harder to hold. The longer you try the worse your form becomes. This is the same with your head as it is actually quite a heavy thing to carry around on your neck, shoulders and back all day long.
So, what can you do about it?
Simply pulling your head back inline and correcting your head position will not work. You may be able to sustain a good posture for a few seconds or whilst you are thinking about it, but without correcting the muscle imbalance in your postural muscles you won’t have the endurance capacity in your postural muscles to stay in an upright posture. It isn’t that simple. At City Physiotherapy we will assess your postural muscle endurance capacity – It’s a few simple tests that will show us where you have imbalances and then we teach you the best exercises for your specific needs. They require persistent effort in the first few months but as you improve, it’s a matter of maintaining your endurance capacity.’
What about your arms?
If you hold your arms too high or too tense when you run, your shoulders may lift and become tenser. This can lead to trapezius muscle pain. Some people swing their arms too much, some people adopt a rigid running style with not enough arm swing. The best arm swing is generally where your fist is lies next to your hip at one end of your arm swing and at your elbow at the other. Try to avoid crossing your body with your arms as this creating tension forces in your upper back.
The key thing to gain from this article is that there are things that you can do to help you eliminate shoulder blade pain or trapezius muscle pain when you run. Come in and see us for some treatment and let us help you get rid of your pain and improve your day to day posture at the same time.
Bookings can be made online 24/7 on our website at www.cityphysiotherapy.com.au or give our friendly reception a call on 8212 4886 Monday to Friday 8am -6pm and Saturdays 8.30am – 2pm.
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