July 9, 2014
Several of my patients have asked me if losing weight could help take pressure off of their spine and help ease their back pain. The answer is slightly more complex than a simple yes or no. Simply losing weight through the alteration of diet could diminish muscle mass, which could actually lessen the support that the spine is receiving.
On the other hand, a healthy diet when combined with a mixture of strength training and low impact cardio can help build new muscle and support the existing muscle while losing fat. As muscle is higher density than fat, the scale might not accurately predict the changes occurring in your body. It is important to track measurements with a tape measure as well as weighing in on the scale.
Resistance training is very important to helping minimize back pain. Strengthening the muscles of both the back and abdomen help to support the spine and decrease back pain. Strong muscles in the torso can do quite a lot to help support a compromised spine. Mobility training such as yoga or pilates can help increase flexibility and range of motion in those who have back pain or who have had back surgery. Exercise that is too fast or high impact should be avoided, as well as activities that involve twisting the torso.
As every patient is different, it is important to consult your doctor or physical therapist before you begin a new exercise routine. They should be able to tell you specific exercises that could help, as well as those you should avoid.