How to lose belly fat with a bad back (BACK-ed by Science)

lose belly fat bad back

If you are like my friend who broke his back at work.

You might also be asking how to lose belly fat with a bad back.

To lose fat, especially belly fat, you need to exercise.

But exercising can be close to impossible if you have a bad back.

So what do you do? 

How to get a flat stomach with a bad back?

The obvious answer is diet and exercise if you want to have a flat stomach. However, when you have a bad back, exercising can be a problem. 

Diet is easy, well, not really. But, when it comes to having a bad back, it’s easier to diet than participate in strenuous exercises.

You can never move like you once did after breaking your back. 

With a back injury, it will be painful and scary to do squats. Even pushups, arm curls, or crunches can be hard.

Your back is the foundation of every movement you do. Hence, it affects your every action.

The solution is modifying the way you do these physical activities and skip some exercises which can aggravate your back injury. 

Read on to learn more on how to get a flat stomach with a bad back.

Ab exercises for back pain sufferers

Don’t do sit-ups! Sit-ups can put tremendous pressure on your spine.

Sit-ups push your curved spine against the floor. Most people tend to use their hips while doing sit-ups and not their core.

Before doing the following exercises, please check with your physician. Certain exercises may aggravate specific injuries.

  • Partial crunches
  • Modified leg lifts
  • Donkey kick
  • Bridge

If any of these exercises gives you discomfort or pain, stop, try another.

Partial crunches

This exercise will help strengthen your core while reducing pain in your back.

  1. Lay on your back with your knees bent.
  2. Cup your ears, so you don’t try and lift your head using your hands.
  3. Before you do a crunch, keep in mind to keep your lower back on the floor.
  4. Use your core muscles to lift your head off the ground.
  5. Breathe in when you slowly lower your head back onto the floor.
  6. Breathe out again when you do a crunch.

Modified leg lifts

Instead of raising both your legs, you raise only one.

  1. Lay flat on your back with your legs straight on the floor.
  2. Put your hands on your side and palms or elbows on the floor to keep balance.
  3. Keep one leg on the floor while you lift one leg.
  4. Slowly lower your leg down onto the floor.
  5. Alternate between legs.

Donkey kicks

  1. Start on all fours, palms, knees, and toes on the floor.
  2. Make sure your back is straight, and don’t let your tummy sag. Keep it tight.
  3. Raise and straighten your left leg and simultaneously raise your right hand. 
  4. Bring both your legs and arms back to the starting position.
  5. Alternate between your legs and arms.

Bridge

  1. Lay on your back.
  2. Dig your heels and lift your butt off the floor until your stomach, knees, and shoulders are in a straight line.
  3. Lower back down slowly, breathing out.
  4. Breathe in when you lift your butt.
  5. Breathe out when you go back to your starting position.

Belly fat and back pain

How does belly fat affect back pain?

Belly fat kills as you may already know. 

Studies have shown that belly fat can affect spine degeneration. 

Belly fat secretes a chemical known as adipokines, which causes your spine to deteriorate.

Moreover, there are numerous cases where lower back pain is prevalent in overweight individuals.

“In recent years, there has been strong evidence suggesting that if the nutritional supply of the end plate is altered by targeting its microcirculation, the risk of developing intervertebral disk degeneration increases. Studies have noted that altered metabolism may affect the normal integrity of the disk by affecting proteoglycan synthesis, thereby contributing to degenerative changes”

[source: Disk Degeneration and Low Back Pain: Are They Fat-Related Conditions?]

Strange but true back pain story

I had a workmate, Nick, who bent down to pick up a 500 ml bottle of water. Then all of a sudden, he is on the floor wriggling in pain. We were oblivious to what caused it, and we’re laughing at his expense.

Our laughter turned to a shocking silence when we saw a large bulge on his back. His disc slipped.

The weird thing was, he didn’t even reach the bottle when he got injured. Perhaps the accumulation of lifting heavy boxes finally took its toll. And the mere movement of bending made his disc slip.

Weeks after the incident, we received news that he is not recovering well. He complains of pains in his legs and can’t stand for an extended period.

After years of treatment, he is finally getting better, but his movements are never the same. Some days he cannot work and is bedridden in pain. Lots of heavy pain killers are involved in getting relief.

The saying you only have one back is true. Once broken, it’s never the same. Take care of your back.

Although Nick can function adequately, albeit not the usual, his already gooey belly fat grew even bigger.

Having a bigger belly made Nick’s situation worse. Belly fat and back pain are related. 

When you have extreme cases of belly fat, your lower back suffers.

And if you are suffering from back pain, it’s hard to prevent belly fat due to restrained painful movement.

Although it’s hard to move with back pain, it’s imperative to keep moving. 

In a study of elderly avid runners about the impact of aging on strength and muscles. They found a reduced motor function in the biceps area compared to the runners’ leg muscles. 

However, it’s important to note that the preservation of motor function could be the result of overall physical activity and not specifically exercised body parts. 

[source: Motor unit survival in lifelong runners is muscle dependent.]

How to lose belly fat after back surgery

Losing weight is about putting in the work and commitment to diet and exercise. But, what if you had back surgery? 

After having back surgery, you’ll be sore and tender for the first few weeks. Your focus should be to avoid straining your back. To do this, you shouldn’t bend, lift, and twist. 

In saying that, it’s essential to move, you don’t want your muscles to tighten up and stiffen. 

Observe the following rules when moving:

  • Do not lift anything weighing more than 5 lbs.
  • Do not bend.
  • When you lift, use your knees, not your back.
  • Don’t twist, instead turn your whole body by using your feet.

You should know when you are ok to start strengthening your back.

However, the first thing you need to do is ask the doctor and your physiotherapist for the ok to start working out.

Trust me; you don’t want to add pressure and stress to your back while on the mend.

Once you get the green light, you can start exercising. Your physiotherapist will tell you what you can and can’t do at your current state.

The crucial part of losing your belly fat after back surgery is your diet. The exercises that you can do after a back surgery are mild and will not reduce significant calories, but it helps. 

Reducing your calories by not consuming as much is the best strategy for losing belly fat after back surgery.

When you have fully recovered, then you can step up your exercises a notch. Again, your physiotherapist can let you know when you are ready for harder routines.

The focus of exercises after back surgery is to keep you moving without straining your back. 

As long as you are eating right, not overeating, and keep moving, you will reduce your belly fat or prevent it from getting any bigger. 

How to lose weight with lower back pain

Lower back pain is caused by injury to your muscles, ligaments, joints, or discs. Your body produces an inflammatory healing response causing severe pain. Muscles and ligaments heal quickly, but torn discs may or may not.

[source: Lower back pain, causes, symptoms.]

When you have lower back pain, try not to do strenuous exercises that may further aggravate your lower back.

Instead, stick to these exercises that can help alleviate the pain in your lower back and also burn calories.

Weight loss exercises for slipped disc

Slipped disc can also cause back pain. If you suspect you have a slipped disc, see your physician for more reliable analysis.  

The symptoms of a slipped disc can include the following:

  • pain and numbness, most commonly on one side of the body
  • pain that extends to your arms or legs
  • pain that worsens at night or with certain movements
  • pain that worsens after standing or sitting
  • pain when walking short distances
  • unexplained muscle weakness
  • tingling, aching, or burning sensations in the affected area

[source: What are the symptoms of a slipped disc?]

The following are weight loss exercises for slipped disc:

  • The prone
  • Lying extension
  • Standing extension

The prone

  1. Start by lying down on the floor—arms on your side and your hands near your pelvis area.
  2. Turn your head to either left or right and hold for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. If you can’t tolerate this position for an extended period, have a pillow and rest your forehead.

Lying extension

  1. Lay on your stomach.
  2. Place your hands near your shoulders.
  3. Your hands should be palms down. 
  4. Make a press-up movement with straight arms.
  5. Your pelvis should stay flat on the floor while your upper body goes up.
  6. Return to your starting position.
  7. Repeat ten times.

Standing extension

  1. Stand up straight with feet apart to maintain stability.
  2. Place your hands on your lower back.
  3. Arch your back as much as possible.
  4. If you feel pain, then stop where you feel pain.
  5. Return to your starting position and repeat.

Here’s more medically proven exercises for herniated disc and pinched nerve

More exercises to improve your back pain and lose belly fat.

This video is from 2 of my favorite Physio duo, Bob and Brad. Don’t force yourself if you are unable to perform these exercises. 

Laying down figure 4 stretch

  1. Lay on your back with your knees bent.
  2. Whichever leg the pain is located, you take that leg and rest the ankle on the other leg’s knee. For example, if the pain is on my left leg. I would take my left ankle and rest it on my right knee.
  3. Using both hands, grab your right thigh and pull it towards you.
  4. If you feel pain, stay in the pain-free stretch zone.
  5. Hold it as long as you can.

Tennis ball butt massage

I don’t know what to call this method, but it helps in alleviating the pain.

  1. Lay on your back and legs flat on the floor.
  2. Do another figure 4, putting your pained leg’s ankle on your other knee. 
  3. Place the tennis ball under your bum cheeks and look for the tender spot. Once you find it, leave the tennis ball on that spot and just let it do its thing.

These exercises may not reduce many calories, but it’s proven to lessen back pain. 

Conclusion

When you have a bad back, exercising becomes difficult.

So, how do you lose belly fat with a bad back? By being selective with your workouts.

Choose exercises that will not further aggravate your back and help alleviate pain.

These mild exercises are effective methods to reduce the pain in your back. However, they are not as effective in losing belly fat.

To reduce a significant amount of belly fat through exercise, you need to work hard. And working hard with a bad back is a terrible idea.

A surefire way to lose belly fat with a bad back is through changing the way you eat.

There was a time in my life when I lost 22 pounds in 4 months without lifting weights or doing strenuous and boring cardio.

Click here if you want to lose weight without spending an ungodly amount of hours in the gym.

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