Is pain holding back your weight loss?

The amazing Chris, a sports physiotherapist and director of the new and upcoming Sum Of Us health space in Prahran has given us a little insight into how back pain can be a major factor to weight loss and other aspects of your health and wellbeing. Chris and his team have an amazing new studio opening next month and we can not wait to be a part of it. Congrats Chris and thanks for sharing your expertise with us. 

Back pain is a major problem. Statistics from the Australian Beurau National Health Survey found 2.8 million Australians reported suffering from back pain last year.  Even more troubling is that 80% of these people will have recurrences in their lifetime.

Pain creates disability. It stops us from moving as much as we should, and ultimately living our lives. Pain as a social disability costs the Asutralian public more than heart disease, stroke, diabetes and alzeihmers combined!

But can it make you gain weight? Well, the evidence suggests it can. A 2009 meta analysis in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that overweight people had a much higher rate of back pain across all demographics. It’s a classic chicken and egg scenario,, where being overweight can lead to more strain on the tissues causing pain, and the pain leading to immobility causing weight gain.

But pain is very misunderstood in the community. And although we often want to just stop and do nothing when we are in pain, this could be the worst advice. 

The spine is a very complex piece of machinary. It has to take a lot of load, and we ask it to do many things in our lifetime. Back disorders can come in almost any form from a strained muscle, to a ligament tear, to something more sinister such as a disc prolapse.

For most of us the back is our centre of control. When it is painful and weak, we can feel very vulnarable. When it is difficult doing simple everyday tasks such as sitting at the dinner table, or picking up the kids, we can become very depressed. And in many cases, this leads to us fearing the pain and becoming overly cautious.

The message we really want to start advocating is that the spine was actually built for movement, and it is a lot stronger than you think. Movement has been proven to lubricate the joints and to improve the loading patterns leading to better outcomes. Plus it helps keep your weight down. So if you have back pain, give these exercises a go:

1.     Walking. Yep, gentle walking is the best thing you can do when it comes to back pain.   It helps create gentle rotation through the spine and is good for the other systems.  At least 20 minutes a day at a brisk pace is ideal where you feel slightly breathless. Set yourself a goal of at least 10,000 steps per day

2.     The bridge – this is an oldie but a goodie. Often the back pain can be associated with reduced control of the muscles around the pelvis. Try lying on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat. Gently draw your tummy in, squeeze your buttocks and lift your hips up off the floor. Hold for a count of 5, then lower slowly. Aim for 30 each day which can really help tone the gluts

3.     Last but not least is dead bug. It isn’t as scary as it sounds. Lay flat with your arms by your sides. Lift the legs so you are bent to 90 degrees at the hips and knees. Draw the tummy in, and gently push one leg out at a time. Only go as far as you feel comfortable. This is great for improve core control and toning the abs. Do 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 3 minutes

Remember to do the exercises at your own pace, and stop if the pain increases. The other key is progression. Once you are confident, a trial of pilates or yoga could be the next step as both forms of exercise are gentle for the back yet great for getting you, and your back, in shape.


SUM of US is a health and wellness studio in Prahran that combines the science of modern physiotherapy and health care, with the beauty and asthetics of a luxurious environment. Their yoga and pilates classes will take your breathe away, but as people they see themselves as the sum total of their community. For more information go to

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