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How Weight Loss Can Affect Back Pain

weightSure, it’s easier to gain weight than it is to lose it – but at what cost? Studies show that a healthy diet and exercise can help combat obesity and metabolic disease, and prevent future back problems. Weight loss can improve back pain for both men and women of all demographics. I have many patients who have successfully improved their chronic back pain with weight loss and regular exercise.

Physical activity increases the exchange of nutrients between spinal discs and other spine structures. When an individual doesn’t participate in enough physical activity, the spinal discs are deprived of the nutrients needed to stay healthy and strong. Increased body weight causes extra stress on the lumbar vertebrae, facets joints, and disks, which can lead to increased rates of injury and pain. People who have difficulty losing weight and keeping it off are at higher risk of developing osteoarthritis, a chronic condition that causes sore or stiff joints due to the breakdown of cartilage that cushions those joints, especially when their BMI is too high.

Major Benefits of Weight Loss

  • More energy to participate in everyday activities
  • Potential for improved body/self confidence
  • Lower propensity for stiffness and weakness of joints
  • Minimized recurrence of lower back problems
  • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Reduced risk of sleep apnea, dementia, and cancer
  • Potential to influence your spouse or partner to adopt healthy habits

Be careful, though! Exercise is great, but if you are engaging in a strength training program with free weights, it’s important to be mindful of proper form and alignment when conducting these exercises. A wrong move, especially when done in repetition, can cause injury and pain.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be achieved with a balanced diet and exercise. Instead of solely going to the gym, switch it up by participating in recreational activities like hiking or walking, or varying your exercise with swimming, Pilates and stretching to give yourself more stamina to keep the weight off. Team sports may also motivate you to keep going by adding social and competitive elements.

Of course, it’s also important to make sure you are consuming enough fruits and vegetables in your diet, and I recommend key supplements such as Vitamin D.

Do you or someone you know have a previous history of weight problems? We’d love to hear about your experience. Share it with us on Facebook.