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Chiropractor for Algonquin and Lake in the Hills
An image of a person standing on a bathroom scale to show how weight loss works to help ease back pain.

How Science Makes It Easier to Lose Weight and Relieve Back Pain

Do you suffer from chronic lower back pain? One of the reasons could be weight related. Find out how weight loss and back pain relief are connected!

Weight Loss and Back Pain Relief: Why Cutting Calories Reduces Pain!

We’re sure you’ve heard people, or yourself, say, “I want to lose weight.” Usually, it crops up around New Year’s Eve as part of a New Year’s Resolution. But the truth is, anytime is a good time to lose weight. This is especially true if you suffer from chronic lower back pain!

Having extra weight is never ideal. It can contribute to many harmful conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and joint and back pain. Specifically, we want to look at lower back pain and how weight loss can be a culprit in on-going pain.

Why do weight loss and back pain relief go hand-in-hand? Let’s find out!

An image of a man with a measuring tape around his waist to show weight loss and back pain relief.
Losing weight and building up core muscles help to relieve back pain.

What Causes Excess Weight?

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, extra weight and obesity are caused by an energy imbalance. The Institute states that “An energy imbalance means that your energy IN does not equal your energy OUT. This energy is measured in calories.”

Essentially, it all boils down to this: People need to burn off the calories they take in to keep a reasonable weight. When someone doesn’t burn off more calories than they take in, it turns into extra weight.

There are many factors that contribute to fewer calories being burned off. These include eating habits, where people live, attitudes, emotions, life habits, and income.

Now that we know where the excess weight comes from, how does it impact someone’s spinal health? Let’s take a look!

Why Does Excess Weight Cause Lower Back Pain?

Extra weight, especially around the stomach and waist, puts a strain on the spine and lower back muscles. This happens because the extra weight in the stomach pulls the pelvis forward. It causes the back muscles and ligaments to work overtime to keep the body upright and moving.

Furthermore, extra weight impacts the spine negatively. As that extra weight pulls, the spine can become tilted, and it will handle stress unevenly. This causes it to weaken over time, and an unnatural curvature of the spine can occur.

Excess weight can also create new issues with the spine, which can add to the lower back pain.

For example, excess weight can cause symptoms of sciatica. Sciatica is a set of symptoms that creates tingling or numbness that starts in the buttocks and runs down to the feet. It can also cause a herniated disc, which is when a spinal disc breaks through the membrane that surrounds the outside of the spine.

The more weight you put onto the spine and lower back, the more likely it is that a newer condition will develop that will only increase levels of pain.

An image of a person with his lower back highlighted in red to indicate lower back pain.
The more extra weight someone has, the more strain it puts on the spine and lower back muscles and ligaments.

How to Get to a Healthy Weight and Relieve Back Pain

Packing on a few pounds might not immediately cause damage to your spine and create lower back pain. However, if the problem persists, over time, those issues we mentioned above will occur.

So, how do we get rid of that extra weight and find lower back pain relief? There are a few options.

The first step is to consult a health practitioner, such as a chiropractor. A chiropractor can look at the spine and lower back and figure out solutions to the problem. Like we said, excess weight may not be the only cause of lower back pain.

After examining and diagnosing the issue, a chiropractor can develop a sensible diet and exercise program that works for the individual!

What is a Sensible Diet and Exercise Program?

We’ve seen a lot of commercials for “fad” diets and exercises. Every month, it seems, there’s a new one for people to try. But what we look at is something more sensible. We look at how you can develop healthy eating and exercise habits.

Diet

First of all, let’s get rid of “fad” diets. These are diets like starvation diets, one-or-two-food diets, and prolonged periods with multiple meals of powdered drinks and juice “cleanses.”

We tend to think of a diet as restricting and limiting yourself from the foods you like for a period of time until you reach a target weight. But that’s not how it should be. Instead, a diet should be a lifetime of healthy and safe food consumption choices. 

Many diet programs fail because people head into them too quickly and get burned out. To protect against this, we help people examine what they’re already eating and how to adjust to make sure they’re getting the calories they need.

An image of a person eating a salad while counting calories with a smartphone app.
A sensible diet means looking at healthier ways of eating and burning calories.

Exercise

Again, a chiropractor will help develop an exercise program with the patient in a way that works for them. Every person is different, and chiropractic care takes the individual into account.

Essentially, though, the exercise plan will involve plenty of movement. We want to make sure patients are active, as far as their pain and condition allow. This includes walking and short exercises designed to burn calories and strengthen the lower back muscles.

A sedentary lifestyle will only harm the progress made. So, we want to make sure our patients are active!

In fact, when we decrease our activity level, it impacts several other areas as well. These include:

  • Muscles get weaker (atrophy)
  • Loss of cardiovascular health, indicated by shortness of breath
  • Loss of bone strength (osteoporosis)
  • Sugar not metabolizing efficiently, which can lead to metabolic syndrome and diabetes
  • Increased risk of depression
  • Increased and worsening pain

We will also look at posture. Adjusting posture can help relieve some of the lower back pain. Correct posture lightens the load from different areas of the spine. Correct posture includes how someone stands, walks, sits and lays down.

How Can We Help with Your Lower Back Pain?

If you’re interested in relieving your lower back pain or losing weight, give us a call at (847) 854-2000 or send us a message on Facebook! We look forward to helping you on your journey to a pain-free lifestyle!

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in April 2017 and was updated in July 2020.