Why Holiday Weight Causes Back Pain and How to Keep the Weight Off

By Savanna Stone
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As if we wanted another reason why we shouldn’t gain weight . . . but maybe this will give us the incentive we need to start trying a little bit harder: being overweight or obese can put you at greater risk for joint pain, muscle strain, and back pain. All those extra pounds in your gut might be causing you more than just mental and emotional pain. Maybe this will give you the incentive you need to stay away from that extra cookie, roll, second helping, or slice of pound cake this holiday season. This is why being overweight gives you back pain:

Curvature of the spine. Because of the extra weight pulling on your body, the spine might lose its natural curve or become tilted or uneven. The extra weight in your stomach pulls the pelvis forward, straining the lower back and contributing to back pain. This is what makes your head lean over your chest instead of upright on your shoulders—also known as nerd neck.

Strain. Each extra pound adds strain to your back muscles and ligaments. The more you weigh, the more your bones and spine have to carry. And the more your bones have to carry, the less comfortable you get. Each pound, breaking down the cartilage around your spine and putting you at more risk for creating or worsening  spinal osteoarthritis, a herniated disc, or ligament hardening, which would be bad.

Spinal osteoarthritis. Obesity can also aggravate or accelerate spinal osteoarthritis.  Spinal osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage of the joints and discs in the lower back and neck breaks down. When you have spinal osteoarthritis, one of the first things your doctor recommends is for you to lose weight. Coincidence? I think not. Symptoms of spinal osteoarthritis include weakness or numbness in the legs or arms and back pain that usually goes away when you lie down.

Herniated disc. When you are obese or overweight, you are more at risk for sciatica or a herniated disc because the spine has become damaged from having to carry extra weight. Discs are soft cushions in your spine that sit between each vertebrae. Usually these discs protect your vertebrae because they are squishy—like the cartilage in your nose. However, sometimes these discs become inelastic and inclined to injury. When you have a herniated disc, that means that the vertebrae squeezed part of the disc out of the tough layer of cartilage surrounding the disc, putting it closer to the spinal cord and spinal nerves, pinching the nerves and causing you numbness and pain. Symptoms include pain in the arms or legs, numbness or tingling, and weakness in your muscles. Obesity can cause or worsen a herniated disc because extra weight puts more pressure on the discs, making them bulge out or herniate. 

Suggestions to stay away from back pain? You already know what I’m going to say. It’s what you’ve probably been trying to do for quite some time: lose weight or don’t gain any more. In order to prevent obesity-caused back pain, stay within 10 pounds of your healthy weight. Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly to help you reach this goal. So before your doctor tells you to do this, take it from me. Losing weight will probably lessen your back pain

Another thing you can do to ease your back pain is use the Chirp Wheel+. The Chirp Wheel+ can hold up to 500 pounds, so chances are, even if you were worried about the wheel holding you up, you shouldn’t worry about that because it can!


Here are some bonus healthy holiday recipes to help you get through the holidays:

Make these black olive penguins, chocolate dipped oranges, snowman meringue cookies, or veggie Christmas trees to get into the holiday season. Use these recipes as a healthy alternative to cookies or other treats.


Sources:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/spinal-osteoarthritis-degenerative-arthritis-of-the-spine#1
  2. https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/nutrition-diet-weight-loss/weight-loss-back-pain-relief
  3. https://www.verywellhealth.com/obesity-and-back-pain-297008
  4. https://www.verywellhealth.com/obesity-and-back-pain-297008
  5. https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/spinal-osteoarthritis-degenerative-arthritis-of-the-spine#1
  6. https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/spinal-osteoarthritis-degenerative-arthritis-of-the-spine#1
  7. https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/nutrition-diet-weight-loss/weight-loss-back-pain-relief
  8. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/herniated-disk/symptoms-causes/syc-20354095
  9. https://www.everydayhealth.com/back-pain/7-bad-habits-that-cause-back-pain.aspx