Back Pain Due to a Treadmill

It can be hard enough to stay motivated to work out regularly without the added hassle of back pain caused by your workout. Back pain from treadmill workouts can range from annoying to serious and debilitating. As with other kinds of pain, the solution comes once you've determined what is initially causing the pain.


Likely Locations

Fitness coach Ben Cohn notes two places where people using treadmills often complain of muscular back pain -- the lower back and the upper back or shoulders. The two locations can indicate different iterations of the same basic cause. Cohn also says that the pain should be in the muscles. Pain in the joints or organs of the back often have different and more serious causes.


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Likely Causes

Muscle pain in the back after using a treadmill, says health correspondent Nicki Anderson, usually comes from poor posture during your workout. Good posture includes standing with your spine erect but relaxed, abs engaged and head straight forward. If you run leaning on the bars of your treadmill, this can stress the muscles in your upper back and shoulders. If you run with your body hunched or leaning, this forces your lower back muscles to work harder. In either case, the result can be pain in those overworked muscles.


Run It Out

Sometimes, you step onto the treadmill and feel muscle soreness in your back. So long as this is a minor muscle ache, such as one you might feel the day after a workout, Cohn advises extending your warm-up to work the soreness out of the muscle. Within five minutes, you should feel the soreness fading as the blood flows through the muscle. Serious pain should not be run out.



The best way to avoid most back pain caused by a treadmill workout, says Anderson, is to run with proper posture. If you're not sure how, have a personal trainer or other qualified person watch your running. Your posture is like any other habit -- it will take a while to train yourself to change how you do it. However, the end result will be better workouts with less pain afterward. It can also be helpful to take ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory immediately after your workouts, preferably with a large glass of water.

Other Pain

This advice is for back pain that feels like soreness in the muscles of your back. If you feel stabbing or tearing pain or if the pain seems to come from bones or organs, discontinue your workout immediately. Check with your doctor before resuming your workouts. Many injuries will be exacerbated by continuing to exercise.



Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.