Back pain is linked to Weight gain. According to the recent studies, overweight and obesity increase the risk of low back pain.
1 pound of weight gain causes 4 pounds of pressure on your spine
What do we mean by weight gain?
Weight gain simply means that there is an actual increase in your body weight.
The most common reasons for increasing your body weight are:
- Increase in the bulk of your muscles:
As you exercise, your muscle mass increases in relation to your body fat. The increase in muscle mass increases your body weight. It is a very healthy way of weight gain.
- Amount of fat in various parts of your body:
As age advances and due to lack of exercise, there is increase in your body fat in relation to your muscle mass. Such increase in body fat is not seen as a healthy way of weight gain
- Excess fluid causing water retention:
Medical conditions like heart failure, liver failure and kidney failure cause collection of excess fluid and water retention – not a healthy way of weight gain.
One pound of human fat tissue contains 3,500 Calories. So to lose a pound of weight over a week, it means that you have to reduce your food intake by 500 calories a day. Some examples of a 500 calorie food are:
- Big Mac
- 4 slices of Bacon
- Frappuccino with cream
- Subway 6″ Ham sandwich
- Full cheese Burger
- 2 Snickers
At the same time if we take an extra 500 calories every day over a week, we add 3500 extra calories. We will gain a pound in weight!
1 pound of weight gain puts 4 pounds of extra pressure on our spine
This significantly increases the risk of lower back pain
What is BMI?
BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is a standard measure used to measure obesity all over the world.
Your Body weight in kilograms is divided by your weight by your height in metres
To make it easy, there is a chart below that you can use to look up your BMI for your weight and height.
It will also show if you are in the ideal weight, overweight or obesity category.
BODY MASS INDEX CHART
BMI Chart gives you a quick idea of where you are on the chart. This Body Mass Index Chart can be used by all adults of any age, weight and height.
It gives you the normal range for your weight and height. The weight is given in pounds on the left side and in kilograms on the right side (see chart above). The height is given in centimeters and feet below the chart.
If your BMI is:
18 – 25 – Shows a Normal & Healthy weight
25 – 30 – Overweight at risk of Back problems
> 30 – Obesity – Back pain & Degeneration
How does Weight gain affect your Back pain?
- 125 – 169 pounds (9-12 stones)
- less than 125 lbs
- <9 stones
- 169 – 200 pounds
- 12-14 stones
- exceeds 200 lbs
- >14 stones
As you can see here, our spine is this central support for our body to provide strength, flexibility and movement.
Our spine has three natural curves that are in balance to distribute your body weight. This provides perfect alignment with the strong and flexible muscles in your back.
During the later years there is a gradual weight increase and the shape of these natural curves are altered. It is important to note that any increase in weight in the belly fat, adds 10 times the weight on your back.
1 extra pound on your abdomen, puts an additional 10-pound strain on your back!
Can belly fat make your back hurt?
Yes, belly fat can certainly make your back hurt
The main cause of your back problem is IN YOUR FRONT
not in your back
The muscles and fat around your belly are right in front of your back
About Belly Fat:
Belly fat causes potbelly and this changes the curvature of your back. Belly fat pulls your spine forward causing stress on the bones, muscles, ligaments and the soft cushions (discs).
Belly fat that sticks out farther away from the spine can cause severe strain on joints of your back.
This can lead to osteoarthritis of your spine reports a study from the University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland.
“Further your belly sticks out greater your backpain”
What are the other problems with weight gain other than back pain?
When your body weight increases, the spine becomes tilted and develops an unnatural curve. There is more stress on the small joints of your spine call the ‘facet joints’.
The chemicals released from the excess body fat, damages the lining of these facet joints leading to inflammation and later arthritis.
Further increase in bodyweight squeezes the soft tissue cushions (discs) between the bones of your spine.
“Black Disc” on MRI scan
Discs become inflamed, loses water and undergoes “wear and tear” changes
This is called
Overweight and obesity can cause the disc to rupture. This causes a ‘Disc Prolapse’ or a ‘Bulging Disc’.
‘Bulging Disc’ cause pressure on the spinal nerves going to the leg
This leads to back pain and leg pain called sciatica
How to lose weight during an episode of back pain?
As we know, excess weight is the cause of your back problem. Therefore, exercise and losing weight will help you in relieving low back pain. Weight loss requires you to take lesser calories and make small healthy changes in your diet.
Take small tiny steps and be comfortable in what you are doing.
There are simple two ways to lose weight that cause back problems:
1) REDUCING YOUR CALORIE INTAKE:
Step 1: Watch for unhealthy eating patterns. A 500 calorie excess intake over a period of 7 days in a week adds 3,500 calories. This equals to a weight gain of 1 pound.
Unhealthy eating habits are binge eating, eating at frequent intervals, comfort foods and eating out regularly.
A food diary is very useful in noting down these unhealthy eating habits.
Step 2: Try and see if you can make small changes in your diet. If you’re eating out five days a week, try changing and reducing it to 2 to 3 days a week.
Step 3: Try to reduce calories that do not give you the necessary nutrients for the growth and well-being. These include candies, soft drinks, sugary drinks and most fast foods.
2) REGULAR EXERCISES:
Step 1: Choose a low impact exercise like walking or water exercises. Exercises makes all the muscles in your body to work and there is a good calorie burn.
Exercise also improves the tone of all your muscles.
Your daily routines DO NOT use all your muscles.
Step 2: Weight loss requires at least 60 to 90 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day for a good result.
Break your exercises into small bits – 10 minute walk following breakfast lunch and dinner.
Step 3: Consider Physiotherapy exercises for low back pain. These are small simple exercises that can be done in the initial stages of your backpain.
They do not pose any risk of aggravating your backpain.
What we know:
1 pound of weight gain can cause 4 pounds the effect on your spine
It is 10 times the effect on your spine for ‘Belly Fat’
Weight gain also causes ‘Disc Degeneration’ and ‘Sciatica’
Aim for a healthy and rich life style free of Back pain
Your ‘daily routine’ DOES NOT use all your muscles
Exercises uses ALL your muscles.
Rahman Shiri, Jaro Karppinen, Päivi Leino-Arjas, Svetlana Solovieva
Am J Epidemiol 2010 Jan 15;171(2):135-54.
Dr. Ross E. Andersen Carlos J. Crespo Susan J. Bartlett Joan M. Bathon
Obesity Research, Volume11, Issue10 October 2003 Pages 1159-1162.
Dafina Ibrahimi-Kaçuri 1, Ardiana Murtezani 1, Shkurta Rrecaj 1
Med Arch 2015 Apr;69(2):114-6.