Can a Big Belly Cause Back Pain?

A big belly increases the load on the spine.

A big belly increases the load on the spine.

Back pain can have detrimental effects on your ability to carry out normal daily activities and have healthy relationships. A big belly can contribute to back pain since it increases the daily load your spine carries. Increased weight causes the soft tissues and muscles surrounding the spine to work extra hard. This can lead to back aches, muscle tightness and acute or chronic pain. Decrease back pain by slimming down your belly and improving your fitness level.

Back Pain

Back pain affects the ability to carry out daily tasks for one of every nine people, according to Real Age. The condition may start early in life, as overweight children are twice as likely to show early signs of degenerative disc disease. Extra weight can throw off your spine's natural alignment and cause excessive lordorsis, characterized by weak abdominals and tight spinal extensor muscles. Slimming down your waistline helps to reduce the stress placed on supporting back muscles. This stress can leads to back pain and fatigue.

Increased Risk

The more weight you carry, the more likely you are to suffer with back pain. According to Real Age, if you are categorized as overweight, your risks of having back pain are increased by 20 percent. Your risks are more than doubled -- sometimes tripled -- if you are obese. Real Age also reports that losing just 4 pounds of body weight can take up to 16 pounds of excess stress off of your spine.

Lack Of Physical Activity

If you have a big belly, chances are you are out of shape and not physically active. The NIAMS, or National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, reports that back pain is more prevalent among people who are not physically active. Your abdominal muscles will be weak, which decreases the support given to the low back. Strong abdominal muscles can help to protect the back by contracting and bracing the body during lifting and carrying movements. The NIAMS also cites that people who engage in moderate-intensity exercise regularly are less likely to incur back pain than those who are inactive all week, but then try to make up for it by exercising extra on weekends.

Exercise

Slim down your belly with cardiovascular exercise and strength training. Cardio burns extra calories for fat loss all over the body, including the belly, which reduces the load on your spine. Furthermore, strength training, in particular core training, will tighten the abdominals and increases muscle strength to help support the lower back and prevent injury or pain. The NHS recommends healthy adults engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or 75 minutes at a vigorous intensity. Add in two or three strength-training sessions per week to target major muscle groups that include the upper body, lower body and core.

 

About the Author

Jennifer Andrews specializes in writing about health, wellness and nutrition. Andrews has a Master of Science in physical therapy from the University of Alberta as well as a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. She teaches yoga and pilates and is a recent graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

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