Back pain can occur for a variety of reasons, but excess weight is a significant driver. In fact, a 2010 study found direct correlations between instances of lower back pain and elevated BMI (body mass index).
In the following article, we’ll be looking at the primary causes of back pain, in general, as well as some steps you can take to combat it. Let’s begin!
What is back pain, and what are the causes?
Back pain is most commonly associated with lower back pain. However, it doesn’t discriminate when and where it can occur. The causes of lower back pain can be attributed to a number of things. Some of the most common causes are:
- Injury or strain to the muscles and ligaments supporting the spine
- Degenerative changes in the disks or joints of the spine
- Poor posture
With upper back pain, the most common causes are:
- Muscular irritation or strain
- Joint dysfunction
- Poor posture
Carrying excess weight, especially in the abdominal area, puts added stress on the spine and muscles that support it. This can lead to lower back pain, as well as, upper back pain. Weight loss can help to alleviate this by taking pressure off the spine and muscles.
What are some benefits of weight loss for relieving back pain?
Aside from taking pressure off the spine and muscles, weight loss has a number of other benefits that can help to relieve back pain. These benefits include:
- Improved circulation
- Reduced inflammation
- Stabilization of blood sugar levels
All of these benefits work together to help reduce the amount of pain you’re experiencing. In addition, weight loss can also help to improve your overall health and quality of life. Research has shown that a weight loss of just 5-10% can help to improve your health and reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
What are some ways to lose weight and keep it off?
For starters, don’t underestimate the task. As you age, your body loses bone density and muscle mass. You won’t want to admit this to yourself at first, and you’ll end up attacking your workouts as you did when you were younger. When you find out you’re not as capable as you once were, that can discourage you and impede progress.
Start where you are to combat this. Don’t burn yourself out. Gradually take on more resistance, more cardio. Focus on what’s in front of you – a successful day with both diet and exercise rather than the big picture. Win each day, and your successes will add up.
Once you’ve got the mindset conquered, here are some quick tips to keep your weight loss journey going:
- Invest in comfortable footwear and workout attire
- Find an accountability partner
- Count your calories
- Eat healthier foods, focusing on protein, fiber, and healthy fats
- Eat more often in smaller portions
- Isolate parts of the body for your workouts (i.e., leg day, arm day, chest day, cardio day, etc.)
Above all, realize that weight loss and proper weight maintenance are inextricably linked. You start out trying to lose weight, but you use many of those habits and best practices to maintain a healthy lifestyle once you arrive at your goal weight. It’s all about making healthy habits a way of life. There is no finish line.
Are there good exercises for back pain?
The answer is yes. Here are some of our favorites:
Extension exercises: these help to stretch and strengthen the muscles in the back. One simple extension exercise is the Superman. To do this, lie facedown on the ground with your arms extended in front of you. Slowly raise your arms and legs off the ground, holding for a few seconds before returning to the starting position.
Flexion exercises: these help to stretch and strengthen the muscles in the front of the body, as well as the muscles in the back. A great flexion exercise is the Pilates Hundred. To do this, lie on your back with your legs in the air and your arms by your sides. Raise your head and shoulders off the ground and pump your arms up and down 100 times.
Hyperextension exercises: these help to stretch and strengthen the muscles in the back. A great hyperextension exercise is the Reverse Push-Up. To do this, start in a push-up position with your hands directly under your shoulders. Lower your body toward the ground, then press back up to the starting position.
Rotational exercises: these help to stretch and strengthen the muscles in the back and sides of the body. A great rotational exercise is the Seated Torso Twist. To do this, sit on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Place your right hand behind you and your left hand on your right knee. Slowly twist your torso to the right, then return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
Are you experiencing back pain that you believe may be related to weight gain? At Bay Area Disc Centers, we are here to help. Reach out to us by phone, email, or in person, and we will be happy to discuss more options as well as book your next (or first) appointment.