If you’re experiencing back pain and hope that your experienced spinal physicians at the Southeastern Spine Institute can give you a magic potion or a quick fix, your doctor instead may tell you something you don’t want to hear — it’s time to lose some weight. Not only can back pain be caused by carrying too much weight on your body, but your doctor also may tell you that you can’t have surgery unless you lose some weight.
The extra pounds may be a hindrance to recovery, for example, or make anesthesia use more dangerous. Extra weight can cause breathing issues or heart problems, both of which can make surgery riskier. Ultimately, the healthier you are, the faster and easier you recover from even non-invasive back treatments. Even better — when you protect your back with weight loss, the pain may disappear without having to have surgery at all.
How Extra Weight Affects Your Back
There haven’t been any in-depth studies on the connection between weight gain and back pain; however, there is a correlation between those who have been classified as obese and an increase in back and joint pain. Extra weight can really put a strain on your back and joints. Your intervertebral discs take the brunt of it. If you’re already experiencing a curvature of the spine, it could become more pronounced due to the extra pounds. Furthermore, the risk of injuring your back increases the longer your back has to work just to stand up under the strain.
In a catch-22, if you’re obese, you’re often fatigued and short of breath. Joint pain can make you avoid exercise for fear of more pain. Less exercise means a less healthy body overall, leading to more joint pain and body aches from lack of movement. Movement and exercise are recommended to cure back pain, as counterintuitive as that sometimes sounds. The very best way to protect your back, joints and muscles is by exercising regularly.
Exercise You Can Do When You’re Out of Shape
So, you haven’t exercised in a while, and you’re afraid exercise might cause more back pain and aches. Now what? Working with your spine surgeon and a physical therapist or trainer, you can come up with a plan to protect your back that allows you to ease into exercise. Your team creates a list of low-impact exercises that encourage you to move more without pain.
Exercising doesn’t have to be complex and intense. It doesn’t have to leave you drenched in sweat and whimpering in pain. Choose movements to protect your back that cushion your weight while working your muscles, increasing your stamina and helping your flexibility. A few fun, low-impact, yet profoundly helpful movements that should be on your exercise list might include:
The important thing is to get moving in whatever way feels most comfortable to you and has been approved by your doctor. The easiest way to avoid surgery and back pain complications is to protect your back and lose extra weight, both of which can be accomplished through exercise and diet changes. It’s really the easier, and longer lasting, path to wellness.