Does your lower back cause you any pain or discomfort? If it does, you’re not alone. At any given time over 31 million Americans suffer from lower back pain.
It may not seem obvious, but one of the leading causes of back pain is being overweight. A study by The Spine Journal found that in the US population the risk of lower back pain increases as body mass index (BMI) increases. The Journal of Occupational Health research also determined that an employee’s BMI is linked in a linear way to the number of work days missed due to sickness.
With close to 70% of Americans falling into the higher BMI ranges, the connection all of a sudden becomes a lot clearer. So let’s add “eliminate back pain” to the list of reasons why achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is a good idea.
How exactly does being overweight aggravate pain in the lower back? Excess weight, particularly in the stomach area, can shift your center of gravity forward. This shift puts additional stress on your back muscles, which results in the aches and pains that make everyday activities harder than they need to be. And there are additional risks related to back pain due to excess weight. These include sciatica, herniated discs, arthritis of the spine, and pinched nerves. However, when the lower back does not need to compensate for excess body weight, pressure on the back lessens.
A (very) simple way to think of it may be to envision you facing another person of equal height. You both have your arms outstretched, toes touching, and grasping each other’s hands. You remain standing straight while your partner leans backwards, away from you. It is your job to prevent the leaning person from falling backwards. You can imagine that the heavier the leaning person is, the more stress and pain you experience trying to keep him off the ground. This is how your spine is affected with excess weight in your stomach or abdomen area.
On the other hand, the lighter the leaning person is, the less pain you feel. So this begs the question, wouldn't you want to hold up a lighter person?
If you suspect that excess weight might be the source of your lower back pain, there’s no need to continue to delay your relief. Pick up the phone and call your medical provider to discuss your weight loss options. Just imagine of the possibilities of a life without back pain. It is closer than you think!