If you suffer from Low Back Pain and Neck Pain you will know how frustrating it can be. But what you may not know is the link between back and neck pain and your weight.

What Happens If You Are Overweight?

We know that an increase in your weight increases your risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart diseases and stroke. It also increases your chances of developing diabetes and other chronic diseases . Unhealthy weight puts stress on all your organs so it is not surprising it can cause stress to your joints especially your low back and neck causing pain and stiffness.

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Posture - Information Booklet

3 Reasons Why Weight Gain Causes Pain

We explain the 3 main reasons why weight gain causes low back and neck pain:

1. Weight Bearing Joint Stress

The first is the most obvious. Increase in body weight puts extra pressure on your joints especially your weight bearing joints. This increase in pressure adds extra stress to joints causing pain,stiffness and swelling.

2. Pelvis Misalignment And Pain

Increase in weight particularly around your midsection pulls your pelvis forward putting extra strain on your lower back and neck muscles. Over time this causes weakening of your supporting muscles causing increase in pain.

3. Obesity Causes Inflammation

Increase in body weight (particularly midsection) and obesity puts more than just mechanical stress on your joints. This excess belly fat produces chemicals that contribute to synovial joint damage and inflammation causing increase in widespread joint pain.

Obesity is linked to Back Pain

Difference Between Being Overweight and Obese

The definition of these things can vary greatly, between different countries and different races of people (for example). Usually it comes down to measuring your BMI (Body Mass Index) – and finding where on this scale you are:

Being Overweight Causes 3 Major Issues

  1. An increase in body weight puts greater physical stress on your body
  2. It also means you are less inclined to move your body too!
  3. Your diet itself is unhealthy, and cause its own health issues (like the biggest killers: heart-disease and cancer)

Sadly, it’s a multiplier. This all ads up to you being more prone to other (chronic) injuries:

… not to mention the other major health issues such as heart-disease and cancer!

Beautiful young girl lifting weights for back pain
Massage, Move, Stretch, Strengthen
A brisk walk is an excellent form of movement
Burn Some Calories

The Most Important Changes To Make For Obesity

Change Your Movement RoutineTreating Pain With: Heat, Massage, Movement, Stretching, Strength Exercises, Cooling

You’ve got to get more exercise into your routine. Even if you aren’t very mobile, at least a simple stretching routine will help you take the first steps! You would do much better to follow the My Pain Kit methodology! (hint – you don’t need to be injured – it’s a lifestyle / preventative kit too!)

Change Your Diet, Change Your Life

It seems obvious, but changing your diet will have multiple beneficial effects on your health. As we said above, the additional weight can put a strain on your body, skeleton and joints, so taking the weight off can be really beneficial.

Also, when you are overweight, your body can experience a persistent low grade inflammation. Most chronic painful conditions like Osteoarthritis is the result of chronic inflammation, so by correcting your diet you can reduce this inflammation which will reduce your pain. A diet/food that is high in antioxidants known as polyphenols have an antiinflammatory effect that decreases inflammation and pain.

The good news is that these polyphenols are abundant in the Mediterranean Diet. A diet that can easily be followed. So if we know a particular diet can help reduce our pain and inflammation we must and should adopt it. This simple change should be the frontline fight against pain.

Obesity is linked to Back Pain

A Mediterranean diet not only helps reduce inflammation but has also been shown to reduce body weight consistently over time. Less weight means less stress on your joints.One review published in The American journal of Medicine looked at 5 trials on overweight or obese people and found that by following the Mediterranean Diet they lost as much as 11 pounds more than low fat eaters but most importantly managed to keep their weight off for over a year. This type of healthy diet is well balanced and prevents yo-yo dieting and quick fix scenarios that ultimately fail.

Pain shown in different body locations

Have A Simple Healthy Diet

As I have mentioned already, a good diet is so important when treating and dealing with your pain. Simple changes can make a big difference. Adding to this a proper exercise plan of increased walking, moving, stretching and strengthening combined will have better outcomes in reducing your pain and getting back to a pain free life.

Increase These Healthy Foods In Your Diet

  • Whole grains / Whole wheat pasta / Brown rice / Whole wheat bread
  • Replace fully saturated fat with monounsaturated (ie. increase use of olive oil/canola oil instead of butter)
  • Increase Antioxidant Rich Food Like Tomatoes
  • Increase Healthy Protein Like beans, pulses (lentils) and nuts
  • Increase Massively Your Leafy Greens and Other Vegetables
  • Did I mention Chickpeas for Protein?

Decrease These Unhealthy Foods In Your Diet

  • Junk Food (seriously!)
  • Salt
  • Low Nutritional Value Foods
  • Avoid Sodas and Sugary Drinks
  • Avoid Corn Syrup
  • Completely Eliminate Processed Meats (they are carcinogenic!)
  • Avoid Processed Carbs (White Pasta, White Breads and Highly Refined Carbohydrates)
  • Reduce Alcohol
  • Reduce Coffee because a caffeine craving can trigger other cravings

Frequently Asked Questions:

How Do I Lose Weight And Keep It Off?

If you are very overweight a total lifestyle transformation is required. It’s well documented that a high-fibre diet is more satiating (satisfying) than a refined or junk food diet, so you need to move in that direction. Also incorporating some activities daily that help you burn calories will help. Don’t follow “Fad” diets – look at every aspect of your life and understand where most of your calories are coming from.

How Can I Exercise With A Bad Back?

If you have a bad back, you first need to work on fixing this. You can engage in a program of:

  • Heat Therapy
  • Massage
  • Movement
  • Stretch Exercises
  • Strength Exercises
  • Cold Therapy
  • Bracing

This will get you started, and gradually restore your range of movement. Always consult a doctor.

How Much Weight Can I Lose In A Week?

Everyone is different, but a good rule of thumb would be that a maximum of 2lbs (or 0.9 kg) would be the maximum a person could lose in a week. Of course, some people go on severe restriction or dehydration diets, but these are not healthy. Change your lifestyle gradually over time, eating better and exercising more and you will have better long-term outcomes.

Is A Vegan Diet Good For Losing Weight

A Vegan Diet has been determined as being appropriate for all stages of life (once you supplement with a couple of nutrients like B12). Like all diets, you could eat junk food, and still be Vegan, but many studies have shown that eating a whole-food vegan diet can be very beneficial for weight-loss and health in general.

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