Chronic back pain can be debilitating. The nature of back pain can affect all parts of your life, limiting your recreational activities and impacting your ability to work. Although the cause of back pain will vary, sometimes the first step to any successful treatment is losing weight.
For people who suffer from chronic back pain, the connection between weight and pain may be a surprise. Most people are aware that carrying too much weight can be bad for the heart or increase one’s risk of diabetes. However, your weight can also affect your spine.
Your spine is designed to hold you upright. The bones are connected with softer tissue, which moves and bends appropriately. When there is more weight on the body, more pressure is put on the spine. The spine essentially tries to compensate for the extra weight, which leads to shifting or tilting. If left unchecked, this can produce a variety of pain symptoms.
This is most often seen in the lower back. For people who carry extra weight in the stomach, the lower spine can begin to curve unnaturally. Over time, this can change the position of the pelvis. When this occurs, more pressure is put on the lower back. Moreover, being overweight can exacerbate other conditions associated with the spine. People who suffer from arthritis, for example, often have more trouble with back and joint pain when they are overweight.
Given this range of problems, it is no wonder that many doctors recommend losing weight as an effective treatment for back pain. Although weight loss may not completely cure back pain, it is often a necessary first step to address the problem. By losing weight, pressure on the spine is lessened. While further treatment may still be needed, the loss will allow those treatments to produce a palpable effect on your pain levels.
When you are in pain, exercise can be difficult. Fortunately, gentle exercises can have a real impact. While any exercise program should be discussed with your doctor or physical therapist, there are several suggestions that are commonly recommended.
Yoga exercises are based on targeted stretches. In this manner, yoga can be used to loosen and strengthen key parts of the body. For many people with chronic back pain, yoga stretches are a great way to manage the condition. However, a more comprehensive yoga routine can also lead to weight loss. The trick is to find the right combination of stretches to promote wellness, proper posture and weight loss. Yoga stretches can be easily adapted to your ability level.
Swimming is an excellent choice for people with joint problems. Most exercises produce high impacts with the ground or other equipment. That is why running and biking can be hard for someone with back pain. However, swimming is a low impact exercise that still provides a strong cardiovascular element. If you are interested in addressing your weight quickly, swimming is an excellent option.
When overweight and in pain, most people feel like they will be unable to start an exercise regime. If yoga and swimming seem like too much of a commitment, then you can start with something easier. Walking is relatively low impact, and it requires no special equipment or training. Even 10 minutes of purposeful walking each day can have a real impact on your health.
These exercises are a great place to start if you want to address your back pain with weight control. However, if you have already tried these exercises and still suffer, do not delay further treatment. Please contact Spine Institute Northwest today at 206-496-0630