Obesity, by itself, is problematic. But it also creates a wide array of other concerns. Apart from increasing your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes, it can also leave you vulnerable to back-related health issues. The additional weight significantly contributes to symptoms associated with osteoporosis, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, and degenerative disc disease.
How Being Obese or Overweight Affects Your Spine
The spine is one of your body’s crucial parts. It carries your weight and distributes the load the body encounters during activity and rest. The excess weight due to obesity forces the spine to assimilate the burden, which may result in structural compromise and damage. One part of the spine that is most vulnerable to the effects of obesity is the lumbar spine — aka your lower back.
The excess weight pushes your pelvis forward, which causes the spine to curve inward. The abnormal pressure on your back muscles then forces the spine to bear the weight, resulting in an uncomfortable strain on your back,
Obesity can also worsen other back conditions, including:
Spine osteoarthritis. Obesity accelerates and aggravates the effects of osteoarthritis. In fact, people with obesity are five times more likely to develop osteoarthritis in the lower back. The excess weight doesn’t just result in joint misalignment; it can also lead to localized inflammation.
A herniated disc. Excess weight can worsen the symptoms of a herniated disc. These include lumbar radicular pain (due to a pinched lumbar nerve) and sciatica.
Bring Back Your Healthy Back
Maintaining a healthy body weight for better spine health involves a healthy diet and regular exercise. Weight loss, however, is a challenge for patients with back pain. While it’s true that trying out intense exercise routines may aggravate your back pain, remaining sedentary will only worsen your situation. The key is to adopt a healthier diet and a moderate exercise regimen.
Instead of consuming meals that are high in calories, include food items that contain plant-based proteins, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Fill your diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Also, stay away from refined sugars and animal products that are high in saturated fats.
Complement your diet with supplements. Restitutehealth.com, a provider of natural healthcare solutions, says that dietary supplements contain bioactive compounds that enhance and promote better spine health.
Finally, consistency is important in reducing and maintaining your weight. Curb your appetite by drinking plenty of water. Increasing your water intake helps your body transport nutrients that are good for you back.
Exercise improves the overall integrity of the muscles that support your lower back. Begin your exercise program with low-impact activities, such as walking or water aerobics. Water exercises are one of the best ways to get the body moving without putting too much pressure on your back.
Other good exercise options include Pilates, yoga, resistance training, and cycling.
Regardless of the exercise you choose, don’t forget to listen to your body and allow discomfort to set your physical limitations.
While weight loss will not cure lower back pain completely, it can help you manage the symptoms better. A healthy diet and regular exercise will not only help you shed the excess pounds, but these can also get your back in good shape again.