In addition to an increased risk for developing heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, people who are overweight are more likely to experience back pain as a direct result of the excess weight. Being overweight will amplify the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, herniated discs, back muscle pain, sacroiliac pain, sciatica and spondyloisthesis.
Due to the increased weight that puts constant pressure on the spine, obesity causes and worsens back pain. How can weight loss reduce the likelihood of experiencing back pain?
Reduced Strain on Spinal Column
The framework of bones that extends from the neck to the pelvis is commonly known as the spine. The function of the spine is to transmit body weight in walking and standing. When too much weight is present, the spine is compromised, causing damage and pain. When an individual loses weight, the strain on the spinal column and back muscles is reduced.
Being overweight not only compromises your strength within your back, leading to damage and pain, it also affects your posture. It is common for overweight individuals to have poor posture, including slouching. Some people find that sitting up straight is uncomfortable because they have gotten used to poor posture. Poor posture is not only bad for your health in general, it is a leading cause of back pain.
As you lose weight, you will be more likely to notice your posture, paying special attention to sitting up straight and standing tall. Good posture will relieve back pain as well as make you look instantly slimmer and strengthen the muscles within your core, leading to additional benefits. Your core muscles need to be strong to allow for straight posture, so keeping your posture straight will cause your core muscles to strengthen.
Increased Exercise and Stretching Capabilities
As you lose weight, you will find that exercise and stretching become easier. You no longer have as much body weight and body fat to carry around, making exercise easier than before. Being overweight makes exercise difficult and individuals experience difficulty breathing and fatigue during workouts, which can lead to exercise avoidance.
When weight loss occurs, individuals notice an improvement in both of these conditions, making exercise more tolerable. Because of the ease within your range of motion, you are more likely to exercise and your stretch your back, leading to strengthening of the muscles within the back. Research shows that exercise is an effective method to treat, manage and prevent low back pain.
An effective back exercise is a back extension, in which you lie on your stomach with your arms by your side. Lift your torso off of the floor and lift both legs up at the same time, lowering them slowly to the floor. Keep your legs by your side or straight out in front of you. Repeat this exercise 15-20 times.