Being overweight is a condition that can worsen as well as cause chronic back pain. There is not simply one lifestyle factor that increases a person's risk of chronic pain, but having increased weight adds extra pressure to the spine, which not only causes pain, but may lead to a variety of serious back injuries. The good news is that, for many people, diet and exercise might prevent the need for spinal surgery.
Common Causes of Back Pain
It is important to maintain a weight that is healthy for your height, age and bone structure. People who weight 20 percent or more than their recommended weight are medically considered to be obese. When you are above your ideal weight, the muscles in your body have to work harder just to help you accomplish normal, everyday tasks.
Being overweight doesn't only affect your appearance, but the extra load on your spine can shift vertebrae out of alignment and significantly increase the strain on your spinal column. Back pain resulting from obesity is one of the most common reasons people visit a neurosurgeon, and being overweight is one of the main reasons people undergo neurosurgery. Some of the most common spine and back problems as a result of obesity include:
- Herniated discs
- Disc disease
- Chronic pain syndrome
- Back muscle pain
- Spinal arthritis
- Vertebral fracture
- Sacroiliac pain
Benefits of Weight Loss and Exercise
Being physically active provides you with double benefits — weight loss and a healthy back. Eating a healthy diet is essential for losing weight and maintaining your weight loss. Along with eating a healthy diet, engaging in physical activity on a regular basis is essential to meeting your weight goals. The best news is that not only with exercise and physical activity help you manage your weight, but it also helps to manage your back pain. In some situations, routine exercise may eliminate the need for spinal surgery. Exercise is typically recommend for people experiencing all types of back pain, but for your safety, it is important to talk with your neurosurgeon before beginning an exercise regimen.
Exercises for Weight Loss and Back Pain
There is a vast array of exercise options to choose from that are designed to help with weight loss and back pain. If you are not comfortable exercising or if you are unable to participate in rigorous types of exercise, talk with your neurosurgeon to determine if you can benefit from milder forms of exercise, such as water aerobics. Stretching and strengthening your trunk muscles, especially abdominal muscles and the muscles around your hips, will help provide support for an upright body posture and your spine.
Practicing yoga, Pilates or other body/mind workouts, can also help with spine control. These types of exercise programs are extremely beneficial for developing strength and balancing the muscles that control the trunk and pelvis. This can help protect your back by promoting even wear and tear as well as reducing the load on your spine.
When you consider your general health, you are automatically considering proper balance of your spine. Your body requires proper nutrition, self-discipline and exercise in order to function correctly and keep bones and muscles balanced. Keep in mind that sometimes the best type of exercise is informal exercise. Go for a walk after dinner, consider walking instead of driving for local errands and take the stairs whenever possible. Find an activity you enjoy and take advantage of it to help you get rid of excess weight.