A visit to a chiropractor can soothe an aching back, but it also has additional benefits, such as including improved posture, less referred pain in your legs and hips and possible weight loss.
Don't get too excited, the weight loss isn't a direct result of the adjustment — it's not like you'll leave the doctor's office 10 pounds lighter. It can, however, create a healthier body environment where burning calories through more physical activity becomes possible. If the adjustment helps alleviate chronic pain, you may also get off pain medications — which can sometimes have the nasty side effect of weight gain — and relieve physical stress on your body. When you feel less stressed, it's easier to make healthier dietary choices and take care of your body.
The Relationship Between Back Pain and Weight Gain
Chronic pain can lead to weight gain through a combination of decreased activity, poor sleep and eating for comfort. A 2015 paper in the Journal of Pain Research confirmed the relationship. While it's a classic chicken and the egg conundrum — it's unclear which comes first, the pain or the overweight state — there's no doubt that pain, including back pain, and a having a heavier frame often coexist.
Back injury puts you at direct risk for weight gain too. In a study of more than 1,200 workers who injured their backs at work and were subsequently put on leave for 180 days or longer, more than 13 percent reported a notable increase in weight, as published in a 2013 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
What an Adjustment Can Do
An adjustment isn't guaranteed to fix back pain, but in many instances, it offers incredible relief. Do recognize that pain management or relief may take several visits. The reasons why relieving back pain can lead to weight loss are many:
Improved nerve communication: Your spine contains nerves that connect your brain to your body. These communication pathways include those that control hunger and fullness cues. By adjusting your spine and helping to open up these pathways, you may get better information to your brain about when you need to eat and when you need to stop eating.
Allow for the possibility of exercise: When your back hurts, you aren't excited to head to the gym to lift weights and jog on the treadmill. Even if you can squeeze in a workout, it's probably not as long or intense as you'd like. An adjustment that alleviates back pain means you can get back to working out fully and burning calories.
Make daily movement more comfortable: Exercise is an important part of weight loss, but so is all the activity you do in a day. If you find yourself taking fewer steps to avoid pain in your back, delegating chores and sitting a lot more, an adjustment and the relief it brings might bring you back to life. All those small movements you make per day count and can burn up to 350 extra calories per day, notes the American Council on Exercise.
Reduced stress eating: Many people deal with stress by seeking out food for comfort. But, when you remove the stress of a sore back, the need to stress eat lessens. You can focus on cooking healthy dinners and choosing quality snacks, instead of simply managing your pain. You might also find yourself more willing to take a walk after dinner rather than sitting in front of the television with a bag of chips to take your mind off a sore back.