If your belly enters a room seconds before you do, chances are you’re on a first-name basis with Chief Aching Back. In the past 20 years, the incidence of obesity has tripled and complaints about back pain have doubled. Could trimming your bulging middle (or backside) prevent those “gotta lie down” back-pain symptoms? Find out why staying active helps relieve chronic back pain.
Two new studies say yes -- and the back-saving benefits of a flat belly and trim hips go beyond easing muscle pain. Body fat is a demolition derby for your backbone’s discs. Staying slim keeps the gel-filled cushions that act as your spine’s shock absorbers out of harm’s way. Learn how to protect your back when standing, lifting or exercising.
Extra pounds increase the load on your spine, taxing your muscles and dumping pressure on the soft tissue around your vertebrae. That can exaggerate the natural curve of your lower back, throwing off your spine’s alignment and causing chronic lower-back pain. Also, belly fat pumps out inflammatory chemicals that weaken discs. Add sitting for long periods and here comes the need for pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or more serious back-pain treatments. Walk this way to ease lower-back pain.
Today, one in nine people has back trouble that compromises everyday living, interrupts steady work, and tosses a monkey wrench into satisfying relationships (movin' and groovin' doesn't go so smoothly with a bad back). Furthermore, 80% of adults -- and a growing number of kids -- get back pain once in a while. Overweight kids are twice as likely as Slim Jims (and Janes) to have early signs of disc disease -- putting them on track for serious back problems down the road.
So, before you order that mega-muffin and caramel mochaccino with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle, here’s what’s to know about the body-fat-bad-back connection:
More weight equals more pain. Carrying enough extra pounds to classify you as “overweight” (e.g., 155 to 185 pounds if you’re a 5-foot, 6-inch woman) boosts your odds for back pain by 20%. Obesity (i.e., more than 185 pounds for the same height) doubles or triples the risk. But losing just 4 pounds takes 16 pounds of pressure off your spine.
More weight equals more damage. In a new study from Hong Kong (the obesity problem is worldwide), scans of 2,599 women and men revealed that piling on pounds increases the risk for degenerative disc disease (or, DDD, as we docs call it) by 30% to 79%. DDD sets you up for a slipped or ruptured disc, which puts pressure on nerves. Then there’s spine-tingling numbness and weakness in your legs and, oh yea, plenty of back pain. Often, DDD heals within 6 months, but a whopping one in 10 with triple-D ends up needing back surgery. Try these exercises for a healthy spine.
Also, try these steps to soothe a sore back:
Ready to strike a pose? Discover how certain yoga moves can help relieve back pain.
Just about everyone has experienced some level of back pain. It is one of the most common ailments brought on by disease, injury, or misalignment of the spine. It can be a dull muscle ache in the lower back or a severe, sharp pain...in that affects your ability to bend over or stand up straight. Most often back pain results from strained muscles and ligaments that surround the spine, but it can also be caused by structural problems with the bones of the spine. There are treatment options for back pain, and understanding the causes and symptoms is key to preventing it in the first place. More