Experts say that three out of every four Americans, from kids to adults, are overweight. It's certainly not a coincidence in our mind that the same statistic is true for Americans havig had one or more bouts of low-back pain! Does extra weight cause low back pain? Well, it certainly can contribute to it.
Check out that throwback picture! Dr. Staker in 2007 studying a low back film.
Strap a 10 pound bowling ball around your hips and walk around with that extra weight for a day. Sounds rough doesn't it? Our spine truly is specifically designed to carry the body's weight and deal with the effects of gravity in a balanced way, during periods of both rest and activity. Balance is the key word! When we carry excess weight, the spine is forced to assimilate the burden, which may lead to structural compromise and damage.
The lumbar spine (lower back) is the most vulnerable part of our body to the effects of weight gain. Extra weight, plus poor conditioning, can increase the curve of the lower back causing the pelvis to tilt too far forward, known as anterior pelvic tilt. This leads to abnormal posture, which often leads to compensatory changes of other parts of the spinal support system including the intervertebral discs.
Between each pair of vertebrae there is a thick, fibrous disc of cartilage that acts like a shock absorber for the spine. The discs compress with weight loading, and even more so with postural changes. With extra weight on the spine, discs can degenerate at a faster rate which can lead to many types of low back injuries.
This is just some healthy food for thought! As always, we'd love to answer any questions you may have Don't be afraid to ask- we might write a post about it! We are interested in the whole you, meaning not just getting you out of pain, but helping you be well.