How being overweight impacts your spine

How being overweight impacts your spine

Being overweight has been identified by highly experienced doctors and health workers to be a serious disease. Obesity is an unhealthy illness that impacts both grown-ups and little ones. Many people are aware that being overweight will have a negative impact on the body in the form of heart problems, excessive levels of blood pressure, as well as being more prone to getting different kinds of cancers. We know it might make our appearance less appealing, it can make it heavier to move around, and we will have less energy in our day to day life.

But were you aware of how being overweight impacts your spine? Suffering from obesity will make it more likely that you’ll experience different spinal problems throughout your life. And that’s what we’ll dive into in this article.

Our spine has been created to bear the load of our bodies and balance it evenly while we are both lying down resting, or running and being active. When we bear more load than our bodies are designed to handle, our backs must include the extra weight in everything we do, which makes it more likely that our structural integrity will suffer. It might even lead to injuries like spinal disc herniations and sciatica – injuries that are notorious for being very painful and very debilitating for our overall quality of life. A particular spot in our spine which is doubly in danger when we are overweight is the lower back. This is because the lower back is the point in our spines which is positioned closest to the ground, bearing the most weight.

Why it’s important to be active

If we aren’t active enough, the flexibility in our joints will suffer, and major muscle groups like our upper and lower back, our hips, and our legs will deteriorate and be too weak to perform their functions effectively. This in turn will make the curvature in our lumbar spine more pronounced, which makes our hips misaligned. Since this makes it more difficult for us to stand upright and with a strong structural alignment, different points in our spines can start to hurt. As with most pain, feeling pain in our back is usually a sign that something is wrong.

Does our back hurt just because we’re getting old?

Stian Nyhus, a professional physiotherapist that owns his own clinic, Fysioterapeut Kristiansand says that “When hearing about the different causes of back pain, it’s easy to brush them off as just being part of getting old.” There is a grain of truth in this idea, that our bodies (and especially our spines) can start feeling some more pain as we get older. But if you are overweight, the likelihood is much higher than you’ll experience spinal discomfort. These are some of the symptoms you can experience:

  • Alignment: Your shoulders might be hunched forward, and your butt might be sticking out too much (the so-called “Donald Duck syndrome”).
  • Lumbar discomfort: Being overweight can exacerbate a lower back issue which is already there, and make it more likely to reappear more frequently.
  • Medical conditions like osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, etc.

The growth of obesity

One of the major causes of our world’s obesity problems is the increased use of machinery and effectivization to make more food faster. This would be a very good thing indeed if it weren’t for our tendency to use our enhanced food making capabilities to produce junk food. Food is cheaper than it has ever been and can be gotten from any place we can think of (even in the barren desert there are gas stations with grocery stores!). We don’t have to spend most of our days gathering food anymore, just to be able to survive. We can buy countless different processed foods and machines to prepare that food even faster. And this food doesn’t tend to contain that many good nutrients. On the contrary, it’s designed to have maximum taste such that customers will come back and keep buying the food. This is how industries are formed, and the food industry is a big one.

If we look at the obesity numbers for the years 2011-2012, this is what we’ll see:

  • Over one-third of grown-ups above twenty years were overweight
  • One-sixth of children between two and nineteen were overweight

A few food giants are starting to move towards healthier food which also tastes good, and that’s a good thing! But there are also many who stay where they are, producing unhealthy foods which keep us obese, and which in turn can make our spines hurt. If we are going to get rid of the back problems connected with obesity, however, we can’t rely on the food industry to make us healthy; we must learn to make better choices ourselves.

Do you suffer from obesity?

If you are among the millions of people who experience problems with obesity, there is a vast pool of resources and people who can assist you in gaining better health. But what steps should you take? The first thing you should do is to talk with your doctor or a local spine expert to learn how you can securely begin a program for losing weight. It’s important to contact someone who works specifically with keeping people’s spines healthy because the training program for a person with back pain will be dissimilar to the one a healthy person should use. Keep in mind that we are all different, and when you know that being overweight is an illness, the first thing you should do is to get qualified assistance.


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