Back Pain, Restolisthesis and Running

In February or March of 2015 I was on the computer at our house in Venice and I turned around quickly to see if the dogs were on the bed and I felt my back sort of twist wrong.  I’m not sure how to describe it but it felt like something moved that shouldn’t have.  I saw the doctor who said to take a few days off, take it easy and rest and if it felt better to ease back into running.

That’s exactly what I did and I had no issues at all or so I thought.

You may remember that I had some issues last month that brought me back to the doctor and in going over everything I mentioned that I sometimes get blue toes and that I’m having tightness in my back and that my legs sometimes feel ‘dead’ when I’m running.

So yesterday when I went in for my final MRI’s they gave me the impressions for my first two.  The first impression was for the brain MRI and the good news is the hyperintensities that have been there are stable and there is no change, (no new brain lesions).  The second impression was for my lumbar spine and folks, it rocked my world.

I have Retrolisthesis of the L5-S1 and bilateral neural foraminal narrowing.  I also have a mild disc buldge at L4-5.  I had no idea what retrolisthesis was but I knew that my back hurt and that my range of motion is suffering and my legs feel heavy.  So I was glad to know the cause.  And then I came home and googled it.


Retrolisthesis is a degenerative and an acute spine condition in which a single vertebra gets displaced and moves backwards onto the vertebra lying immediately below it.

Bilateral neural foraminal narrowing means the nerve passageways in the spine — on both the right and left sides — have less space than they used to, possibly leading to the compression or pinching of nerves.

Son of a bitch.

I have been trying to research the condition as much as I can before I see the neurologist again in August, not because I want to self-treat, but because I want to know what questions to ask.  Mostly I just want to know if running is going to make it worse or if it actually makes it better because it feels like it makes it better.  I also feel like sitting is extremely detrimental and I’ve felt that way long before this situation so I’m making a concerted effort to sit properly when I have to sit and to stand as much as possible.

Here’s hoping this is something that can be corrected.

What I would like to know is how many of you runners have back issues?

What kind of back issues do you have?

How has it impacted your running?

8 thoughts on “Back Pain, Restolisthesis and Running

  1. damn. I’m JUST getting over a tweaked back issue!. no shit.

    i track them. it’s the lower lumbar region. makes squating or forward folding impossible. i’ve had it three times. first time 5 years ago, then 1 year ago, and just last week. each time i take 2-3 days off from running. and ease back in. about an 8 day recovery to get back to 95%

    i googled the hell outtuv it. I refuse to believe it’s a “weak core”…..i’m up to a solid 5 minute plank, teach yoga, and coach cross country (running with teens).

    soooooo im chalking it up to getting old. I know it’s just aging discs. i’ve been running 25 plus years.. not stopping. if anything, i think i recover faster than most. so fck it. i only have another few years running with bad knees so it’s a race to see which goes first. but i’m not stopping. life is too short.

    soooooo long story short

  2. You are really smart to learn everything you can about this condition before visiting the doctor again. It really helps to be armed with the right questions at the doctor’s office.
    I have had some back issues off and on over the years, but no definitive diagnosis. I injured my lower back in 2013 while training for my first Boston marathon and had to sit it out.

    Good luck….hoping this is something that can be easily taken care of for you!

  3. My lower back and hip hurt. The hip always has an ache.

    My sister just told me that running in the morning makes it so her back doesn’t hurt when she sits ( I think she has a slipped disc).

    My running has slowed down some and I get lazier about going out.

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