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Large Waist Leads to Back Pain

We know that being tall doesn’t mean you’ll get back pain (1) but having a large waist means you are more likely to develop diabetes (2), hypertension (3), asthma (4) and chronic back pain (5). In short having a large waist is unhealthy and is associated with poor basic function in breathing, circulation, blood sugar regulation, inflammation and your spine. A large waist is defined as over 34 inches for women and over 37 inches for men (6). Those with raised CRP and large waists are more likely to report back pain (7) and asthma (4).

I think an important aspect of waist size is overlooked in the studies to date. This important aspect is the relativity to the person eg has your waist expanded considerably relative to what it used to be? Having had a consistently large waist doesn’t mean you escape health consequences because those men who have been consistently large waisted will, more likely than smaller waisted counterparts, develop radiating low back pain (6).

As a body changes over time the mechanics of tissues can alter relative bone position. Abdominal adipose tissue probably impairs the function of the core muscles of the spine resulting in the correlation between back pain and a large waist. Some studies have used a large waist as a measure of abdominal adiposity.

Keeping one’s body healthy with a variety of movement, physical exercise and helpful rehabilitation for injuries can be complemented with Chiropractic Care (8). Keeping body mechanics working well over the decades of life means muscles and joints could work better. Changing mechanics of tissues due to inactivity, injury or age likely alters the way muscles are recruited (Elasticity) and muscle firing patterns can affect the condition of joints (wear and tear).

The human body is not as strong in lateral movements than it is in front to back or back to front movements. Proving a tricky conundrum of keeping in shape without making matters worse. Get help from your Chiropractor to ensure your body is weight bearing evenly on both left and right sides. Exercise may seem at first to be helping but then it seems too much. You might fall into the idea that you are getting on a bit, passing a grumbly back off  as age related when in fact it is a weight bearing issue within your body. The larger the waist the more lateral motion will need to occur with normal motions such as walking.

Having a grumbly back or your back continually going may be because your body is not weight bearing bilaterally creating trouble with the lateral aspects of motion. Don’t wait until your waist has reached a middle age spread, make an appointment today. A widening waist could be a slippery slope to worsening general health and weakening spinal muscles.


  1. Han T.S et al (1997). The Prevalence of Low Back Pain and Associations with Body Fatness, Fat Distribution and Height. Int J of Obesity 21 (7) 600-7
  2. Vazquez G et al (2007) Comparison of Body Mass and Waist/Hip Ratio in Predicting Diabetes Epidemiological Reviews 29 (1) 115-128
  3. Simonetta G et al (2008) Usefulness of Waist Circumference For The Identification of Childhood Hypertension. J of Hypertension 26 (8) 1563-70
  4. Brumpton B et al (2013). General and Abdominal Obesity and Asthma. European Respiratory Journal 41 (2) 323-29
  5.  Brooks C (2016). Relative Abdominal Adiposity is associated with Chronic Back Pain. BMC Public Health 16, 700( Aug) 2016
  6. Frilander H (2015) Role of Overweight and Obesity in Low Back Disorders Among Men. BMJ open 5(8)
  7. Briggs MS et al (2013). Relations of C-Reactive Protein and Obesity to the Prevalence and the Odds of Reporting Low Back Pain. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 94(4) 745-52
  8.  Glossary, The Code 2016, General Chiropractic Council.

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