Most people assume that increasing body weight – and getting older – are associated with more back pain. As to weight, the evidence has never been very strong, but new research focusing on waist circumference does indicate a strong correlation. Why?
Increasing waistline is a sensitive indicator of increasing central body fat, which just kind of hangs off the front of your lower spine and may cause mechanical stress on the low back. Women in the last month or two of pregnancy know lots about this pain. Another potent factor might be the pain biochemicals that are produced in excess fat cells. But increasing waistline does seem to increase back pain.
As to age, first episodes of back pain severe enough to interfere with daily living have historically occurred most often in the mid 20’s. But now, it appears even older adolescents are at risk – if waistlines grow. A recent Finnish study of 16-18 year olds found a surprising increase in low back pain syndrome as waistline increases. Young women appear to be at about a 40% greater risk than young men.
More evidence that ‘Waist NOT Weight’ should be the focus!