Weight loss and exercise are wonderful ways to prevent back pain, but did you also know that healthy movement could reduce existing back pain?
It’s true. Researchers at Stanford University found that overweight people who increased the amount of time they spent moving by just 20 minutes daily reduced their risk of back pain by 32%. Weight loss has also been tied to a reduction in back pain.
Shedding pounds through diet and exercise supports your back health in numerous ways.
1. Eating healthy, anti-inflammatory foods does a body good
Overweight people may eat diets full of fatty and sugary foods. These foods create inflammatory proteins that aggravate back pain. Conversely, eating powerful, healing foods such as cherries, salmon, and green tea fills your body with antioxidants that reduce inflammation and may reduce pain.
A study conducted at Michigan State University found that anthocyanins, the antioxidant that gives cherries their signature red color, may inhibit pain in essentially the same way as anti-inflammatory drugs. Other brightly colored fruits and vegetables contain similar natural compounds that fight pain. As a bonus, eating fruits and vegetables instead of processed, high-fat food can help people lose weight.
2. Exercised-induced weight loss builds muscle strength and reduces inflammation
Strengthening muscles in your abdomen and those surrounding your spine helps support your back and reduce pain. Without exercise, those same muscles weaken, leaving your spinal column to support the body’s weight alone. In overweight people, that task overwhelms the spine and often leads to back problems.
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that overweight and obese men who exercised for one hour each week reduced their risk of back pain by 20%. Researchers attributed the reduction to exercise’s work in reducing inflammation often found in overweight people.
3. Weight loss reduces the risk of conditions that may lead to back pain
Carrying excess weight and living a sedentary lifestyle have been linked to many health conditions, such as osteoarthritis and herniated discs, both of which can lead to back pain. Losing weight and exercising promotes a healthy skeleton and can reduce back pain.
Have you tried losing weight to reduce back pain?
Image by Claude Robillard via Flickr