Weight Loss Support - Big Gut/Bad Back? Did Losing Help It?

04-26-2009, 12:58 PM
I'm suffering from a LOT of lower/middle back pain recently, enough to where it's almost disabling--it's even gotten hard for me to walk more than a few yards.

I'm suspecting that it could be because my stomach has gotten SO large in the past year. I say that "my gut sits on my lap". Can anyone else identify with this? (Currently I'm 50, 5'4", and about 215 lbs.)

Do you think it's possible that having to carry this big stomach around is causing my back pain? I've been fatter than this before and never had this kind of back trouble, but I was younger then and probably didn't carry QUITE as much right in my "bread basket" area, as my mom used to call it.

Has anyone else suffered from back pain that went away after they lost their gut? Please tell me that's the case, so I can get myself back to the gym and work through the pain. :(

04-26-2009, 01:30 PM
Oh man - that's so tough! It's hard to have the strength and faith to exercise when you are in pain. Although I think that definitely the weight can be a part of it. I am large in the upper chest and struggle with a lot of shoulder and upper back pain/pinched nerves. My mom has a couple of degenerative disks she's had for years in the lower back - what we notice is that when she's stressed about money? That's when it gets really bad. She'll be in bed for days at a time. She's had this like 20 years now. I think our emotions and fears definitely get tied in with a part of our body (mine is my lungs - asthma).

Here are my thoughts (from experience only - I am NOT a doctor by any means!):

Get a massage - find a good therapist and explain where your issue is. If after the massage you find the pain "moving" to another location then you may find one or two more massages may help work some muscles to release the grip they have (pulling your lower back out of whack). I had a bad pinched nerve where I lost all feeling in my fingers and this worked for me.

Try some yoga and exercises specifically designed to stretch and strengthen the lower back muscles and do them religiously.

Really practice sitting and standing straight and breathing deeply - I have a huge issue with this - constantly have to catch myself every five minutes. The basic sun salutation in yoga is a great all over strengthener. Do it for about 3 rounds a day (it's like a three minute exercise) and you'll feel a difference almost immediately. You might find a youtube video on this...

But if it HURTS don't do it! Be very very gentle with yourself. Ease into any stretching and yoga, okay?

Last resort before going to the doctor (I say this because I personally believe doctors - medicine and surgery is last resort - more often because it creates more problems than in it fixes in my experience) is try acupuncture. A girl I know had carpal tunnel so bad two separate medical opinions said she had to get surgery and in desperation (even though she was afraid of needles - less so than surgery it turns out) after five acupuncture sessions she was completely pain-free.

GOOD LUCK!! Post and let us know how it goes?

04-26-2009, 01:41 PM
Hi there! Been there!
Carrying weight around your midsection/belly will cause stress on your lower and middle back. Just think of it mechanically -- if I was to put a bag with another 20 lbs in it and suspend it around your stomach, it would pull you forward and strain your back muscles. And usually, because those of us with a few extra lbs are generally not in great shape, we have weak stomach and back muscles to start with, so stress in this area is definitely felt!!!
What to do about it? Get on a great eating plan to lose overall weight. Get in a swimming pool and take some aquasize-type classes that target your core muscles -- you can work the midsection while having the bulk of the weight off your lower back. Check your sleeping posture -- sleep on your side to protect your back and make sure your mattress/box spring are made for bad backs (you might want to buy a new bed because you spend 8 hours a day in it, so it has to be good for the sake of your back). Try a course of Ibuprofen/antiinflammatory if the pain gets too bad. You can see a doctor but they won't do surgery for this -- they'll tell you pretty much the above.
I had/have CHRONIC mid and lower-back pain. When I was 244 lbs, 5'7" with the hanging belly, it was tough to go shopping because my back would be KILLING me after just 15 minutes. I've done all of the above, and with less weight around my midsection, I've started yoga to specifically strengthen my core, and have much less back pain. But I'm still a work in progress!!

04-26-2009, 01:48 PM
Kiramira - the aquasizing is a great idea! And would be fun, too. And the analogy with the 20 lb bag. My boyfriend sometimes doesn't understand how it feels to be heavy on top and I tell him - you try ducktaping a couple of heavy cantalopes to YOUR chest and see how happy you feel after a few hours GRIN!

I only mention the surgery because everyone I know who has gone to a doctor has been told that (based on x-rays) and those that did go through with it - it made it worse and the surgeries have continued. It is truly a scary thing to watch two people I love become more and more debilitated when they were supposed to be getting better. So I guess it's all what we've experienced and seen.

Kiramira - do you use an particular postures to help with your core strengthening that you would recommend?

04-26-2009, 03:08 PM
Ms BobbleFrog -- it totally ROCKS that you mentioned the MD aspect because surgery generally won't cure general back pain. It IS indicated for some, but MAN the chances of getting "cured" through surgery is a crapshoot at best. I was just trying to support what you were saying!!
As for yoga postures ---
I am really new to Yoga and I do Bikram's Yoga, which has a specific series designed for spine strengthening mixed with poses that work your front side, in particular the balancing poses. Here is a link to the poses as Bikram's Yoga teaches:

Bikram's doesn't do any inverted poses (i.e. downward facing dog) and for THAT I am IMMENSELY grateful. Being somewhat - ahem - chesty, these inverted poses are AGONIZING for my wrists and shoulders (OK, strap those two watermelons on your chest, then balance all that weight forward on your inflexible wrists...arghhh!!).

I also found this online -- a free, 1 week back pain yoga course from about.com that will give you a sequence specific for back pain that you can do at home:


and I think if you are interested, just check out a yoga place and ask some questions. And make sure it is a yoga place OR if at a health club, that the instructor is a certified yoga instructor vice the holder of a weekend seminar-type credential (you'd be surprised how many fitness clubs offer yoga and pilates taught by instructors who have taken say a 3 day "course" at the YMCA...). Not that all health club yoga instructors aren't yoga-qualified. Just make sure of the credentials, that's all!


Lori Bell
04-26-2009, 03:23 PM
I've have had chronic back pain and sciatica for years doe to a lower lumbar herniated disk. I have also opted out of surgery because of poor patient referral, and low surgery success rate. I can tell you that losing weight is the best thing that has ever happened to me as far as pain. I still experience pain if I over-do it, but without a doubt my quality of life has greatly improved since losing weight. I had a huge gut. At my largest my belly measurement was 54"...it's now 32" (with the awesome appearance of hip bones!)

04-26-2009, 03:36 PM
Holy. Crapola. Ms. Lori Bell!!!! Your stats are amazing!!!!
ps best meal ever involved morel mushrooms in Paris, France...:)

04-26-2009, 08:04 PM
My husband absolutely "cured" his chronic back pain when he lost about 60lbs and kept it off. He'd had a big "beer belly", and would regularly have days where his back was just killing him. In the 3 years since he lost the weight, that hasn't happened once.

04-26-2009, 09:34 PM
What a relief! Thank you, everyone, for the caring and helpful responses ... bobble, kira, lori bell, and jaja--you confirmed what I was suspecting. I will look for the yoga positions you mentioned, try some aqua classes at my gym, and tomorrow the improved eating starts again in earnest, because this is just too hard. I'm wasting my life for the sake of stuffing myself with food, and I deserve better than that.

I will let you know how I feel in a few weeks. :carrot:

04-27-2009, 12:58 AM
Boy am I familiar with that! My bad pain was so bad my kids had to learn to wash the dishes because I couldn't stand at the sink long enough to do them. Yes it was from all of the weight and as soon as I started losing weight the pain went away and has not returned. The pain was unbelievable. At times it felt like either it would snap in half or that I had been kicked very hard and repeatedly by someone with a very heavy foot. I would lay out on the bed and fight hard not to cry. Looking bad I realize the damage I was doing to my body. It was not only my back in pain but my knees and ankles too from too much weight on my joints. No food in the world is worth that kind of torture!

04-27-2009, 01:09 AM
To answer your question YES it not only helps for me it completely alleviated the problem when I dropped 50 pounds.

I had so much weight pulling me forward that I had to pull back to compensate and as a result I could not stand without leaning on something for 20 minutes without my back KILLING me.

I lost a little and have a long way to go still but my back feels a hundred times better just losing a little weight.

What helped me was reducing my caloric intake obviously but running on the elliptical machine and leaning on the bars with my forearm. I know you are not supposed to do this when you run on it and some trainers say to let go completely but I needed to support some of my weight while I ran on it and eventually as the weight came off I didn't need to lean that much, but I still hold on because my balance is not so hot! LOL!

Lose some weight! I guarantee your back will feel better along with your knees and ankles! :carrot:

04-27-2009, 11:26 AM

My husband also suffers from choronic back pain, and he also has a big beer belly. How did your husband lose it? We've tried all kinds of things and not really seeing any results. His back is just getting worse and worse and I'm really worried about his health.

I love my husband, I just want him healthier!

04-27-2009, 12:02 PM
I had lower back pain and when the weight started coming off, the pain left. But I also do Pilates and that works wonders on building your back muscles and you core.

04-27-2009, 01:14 PM
MrsDouger, I know exactly how you feel! My husband lost the weight by signing up for an account at SparkPeople.com, logging his food there daily, playing racquetball, and taking up jogging. Sometimes his back hurt enough to interfere with the racquetball and jogging, but I think that just made him mad enough to focus even more on the calorie counting part. He stayed very focused on his goal, and in about a year he'd lost it all. He's kept it off since then because he feels so great, and is so much better at sports, that he never wants to go back. I wish I had his drive! :)

04-28-2009, 12:49 AM
Thanks! I'll pass on the website to him. I'd do anything to help him get motivated! If I can find ways to motivate him, we could work together as a team and it would help me greatly having a partner to help.

Thanks again! :0)

04-28-2009, 01:27 AM
I had lower back pain for years, which ended up being a herniated disk, resulting in surgery 2 years ago.I remember my surgeon telling me that I should have no further problems if I kept my weight down.now I am 20lbs heavier.I need to lose the weight because I know he was right!It does cause stress on your joints and spine.i can tell the difference since my gain.Good luck.

04-28-2009, 03:25 AM
My HW was about 217 and my height is 5'5". I gained a lot in my midsection because I was on prednisone and it encourages more weight to accumulate in your middle (normally I gain in my hips and thighs, not my belly and chest, which is why i mention the prednisone, because I never had the back problems before). So anyway I ended up with this pot belly and an enormous chest, which caused me back pains even just walking across the street sometimes.

Since losing a bit and trying to strengthen my stomach and lower back muscles, I definitely notice a difference. I used to be in horrid pain from walking just one block, now I regularly walk my parents' dog for about a mile, and I walk to the post office and to friends' houses with no back pain (walking is also how I lost some of the weight, but I had to take it VERY slowly due to the pain. Overdoing it and injuring yourself is not worth it!). The weight on the front puts extra strain on your back muscles, so it hurts to work out, and if you work out less, then the muscles get even weaker, causing MORE pain. It's a bad cycle and difficult to break.

But yeah, to answer your question, when I began losing a bit of the gut, my back pain began to diminish as well. And then I found it easier to exercise, because I wasn't in horrible pain!

06-05-2009, 04:00 PM
One of my dad's friends is a doctor and he is fond of saying, "Never seen a bad back that didn't have a bad front..."

Of course there are thin people who suffer from back pain, but if you are overweight and have back pain, there is a decent chance your weight is contributing to it.

06-05-2009, 04:43 PM
I've got low back and knee issues and I've only lost about 15 pounds so far, but I'd say losing some weight as well as being active again has helped with the pain. I've found that walking and yoga really helps because it stretches out the muscles. Not to say I still don't experience issues with my back and knee, but the frequency of pain has gotten better.

06-05-2009, 08:53 PM
"A happy spine is a happy life" -- Bikram

They say this in our hot yoga class every time we start the spine strengthening series of poses...


06-05-2009, 11:35 PM
Oh, my YES! I totally was there (same starting stats - 50 years old, 215 and 5'4"). I had so much trouble with my lower back!

Now - absolutely pain free! I started with walking, some very basic yoga and lots of chair exercises. I slowly added some WATP DVDs and then some other low-impact DVDS. I really like workout DVDs because I could pause them if I needed a rest. I could also modify any exercies if I needed, and slowly build up to "full" participation.

I'm here to tell you that at 51 1/2, I am totally pain free, able to walk 10-15 miles and feeling 20 years younger.

You CAN do this!!!

06-06-2009, 12:38 PM
My short answer is YES it helped a TON to get the weight off..

I started at 534 pounds and I suffered a back injury about 8 years ago (which is a lot of the reason that I put the weight on in the first place) I had back pain daily (still do to some extent because of the injury) I am down to 338 pounds and just finished week 1 of the C25K program last night. when I started off at thie losing weight thang in Jan 2008 at 534 pounds, I could not walk more than about 5 minutes without leaning on something and now I am running and mostly because of the lesser back pain.

As Ever

Alana in Canada
06-06-2009, 05:48 PM
These are all wonderful suggestions. I heartily recommend any book by Hamilton Hall if you are interested in managing your back pain. I'm currently reading "A Consultation with the back Doctor" which is the latest. There are apparently four different types--and four different ways of managing it. So, definitely, if you are truly flummoxed--read the book!

06-06-2009, 06:46 PM
Ohhhh yes! I do believe weight and back pain are strongly intertwined. After fluctuating between 240 and 280 for a few years, I noticed that at weight 265 is when I would notice back pain.

It is possible you have a pinched nerve, too.

06-06-2009, 07:04 PM
I didn't keep up with this thread after my first couple of posts - but glad to see all the posters are finding that their back pain goes away with the weight loss! Kiramira - great links - thank you! Yeah, I hate the upside down ones too. My BF keep asking me about doing handstands and I just laugh at him.

Another thought - be sure you are supplementing with the correct calcium supplements and getting your Vitamin D!