Obesity and Back Pain

And what is obesity anyway? At what size is a person considered to be of normal weight? At what size is a person a little above average? At what size is a person considered to be obese? Today, the most common way to classify someone is according to their body mass index (BMI).

Body Mass Index (BMI): To calculate a person's body mass index, you use this equation

BMI=Mass(kg)/(height(m))2 or BMI=lb/in2X703

  • A BMI<18.5 is considered to be underweight
  • A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered to be healthy/average
  • A BMI between 25.0 to 29.9 is overweight
  • A BMI of 30 or higher is Obese
Why does obesity cause back pain? For people who are in the obesity range, according to their BMI, being overweight poses a number of threats to a person's back health. Because of the added weight that an obese person carries around with them, there is added strain upon the muscles and ligaments in the back. To compensate for these added weights and pressures, the spine becomes tilted and stressed unevenly. The results of these changes in the position of the spine and added stressors may be lower back pain. The American Obesity Association states that in grown adults, males whose waist sizes are >40 and females whose waist sizes are >35 are at an increased risk of developing lower back pain.

If you do experience back pain are in the category of obese, based on one of the criteria listed above, you may be able to experience a significant amount of back pain relief by losing a significant amount of weight.

Before we go any further, we should mention that we recommend against any gimmicky weight loss programs that focus on losing weight in a rapid amount of time or any weight loss programs that are unhealthy to the body. A good rule of thumb to consider is that all weight loss programs should include diets that involve drinking a healthy volume of fluids and food profiles that provide the body all the nutrients it needs as well as a minimum number of calories per day.



The best ways to lose weight involve a comprehensive program that incorporates dietary changes to a person's lifestyle, as well as a regular schedule of fitness and exercises. A good weight loss program involves changing a person one pound at a time at a time, and towards transforming a person's lifestyle into a healthy one. A person does not need to transform their body into that of a supermodel in order to experience significant health benefits. Often, losing even a small amount of weight could make a significant difference in the way a person feels. Even the loss of just a few pounds could reduce the amount of strain in your back, and the level of back pain that you experience.

The Effects of Obesity on Our Backs: If you are someone who falls in the obesity range, it is likely a situation that did not occur overnight. It is likely that the size of your waist began to slowly draw itself forwards slowly after college. At some point, the body changes reached a critical point beyond that which the muscles and ligaments of your back could support the added weight without coming under strain. At some point, it was inevitable that you would begin to experience back pain.

There is no precise formula available to calculate which point the body becomes particularly susceptible towards lumbar strain. But we do know that there is a strong link between obesity and back pain as well as a host of other medical conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.

Obesity may not contribute to these types of long-term medical conditions, but it may also affect your day to day life as well. For example, a person who is obese is more likely to become easily fatigued and winded from only a moderate level of exercise. Many things in your life will become more difficult, you will become more easily worn out, and the world will feel heavier to you. Exercise may become less enjoyable and much more difficult, and you will be more likely to avoid working out regularly. This lack of exercise may lead to a reduced overall level of fitness, which may cause or exacerbate a person's back pain.

Weight loss and back pain relief: In order to slow or reverse the progression of these types of medical problems, a person must commit to adjustments in their lifestyle to include a program of healthy dieting and weight loss. In order to lose weight, a person must not only reduce their overall daily caloric intake, but they also must eat healthier as well. Healthy eating includes the reduction of saturated fats and trans fats, and an increase of Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats.