Sciatica and Back Pain are pathological entities that, actually, are caused by the same condition. When a spinal nerve gets compressed between two vertebrae an inflammation response develops. Inflammation itself, plus a mechanical irritation of the nerve causes a pain. Depending of the severity of the condition, pain may be presented as a back pain or can radiate down the sciatic nerve (pain that radiate down the leg). To understand why overweight people are prone to this condition, we have to discuss a little bit about the reasons that lead to a back/sciatic pain.
The most common reasons are lumbar herniated disc and degenerative disc disease. Herniation of the lumbar disc occurs if the spinal column is exposed to an unevenly distributed load or the body weight is too big for the spinal column and vertebral muscles to support it.
Core muscles play a huge role in spinal column stabilization. Among them, the most important are the muscles of the anterior abdominal wall (abs and transverse muscles of the abdomen). If a person has weak anterior core muscles, then the vertebral muscles simply “pull” the spinal column backwards, vertebral discs take uneven pressure and over time, they are “squeezed” from the space between vertebrae. That’s the condition doctors refer to as “hernia”.
Degenerative disc disease is another very common reason of back pain. The disc is not rock hard. Actually, it is quite a soft structure and it acts as a shock absorber. Rubbery consistency of discs comes from a high water content in disc tissue. Some people, over time lose water from discs, they become smaller and harder, that way more prone to herniation.
Both of the conditions described occur much more often in people who don’t have appropriate physical activity. Our bodies follow quite a simple general principle: “Use it or lose it”. Over time, as the weight increases and the discs degenerate, at some critical moment they simply collapse or get herniated. Tall, overweight people are in a high risk of suffering from back/sciatica pain.
Losing weight will significantly lower the spinal column load and make painful conditions a lot less probable to develop. Since successful weight loss requires physical activity, core muscles will strengthen along the way, stabilizing spinal column, which is a must if you want to resolve back/sciatica pain and prevent its relapses.
The American Obesity Association published research with a conclusion that one third of obese Americans have some sort of back pain. There is a clear and very strong link between obesity and back pain.
What can you do to improve your health?
While it is essential to have a physical activity that will make the weight loss possible and strengthen the vertebral muscles, it is even more important to avoid getting your back injured. Until the overall body shape improves, exercises that do not put too much pressure on spinal column are recommended. These include: bicycle riding, elliptical machine exercises, swimming and walking. For more information check out The Safest Exercises if you have Sciatica
A nutritionist or dietitian will be able to help you devise a detailed diet plan. You can also check out this German doctor’s ‘trick’ that can jumpstart your metabolism and help you lose 1lb of body fat per day: