I am a strict vegetarian and am very interested in my overall health, but do not exercise as much as I should. My job can be physically strenuous and it involves being on my feet all day. I recently purchased a waist-tool belt that contains on average 3-4lbs of tools and equipment each day. By the end of the day, I have noticed that my back is very sore. The pain disappeared when I stopped using the belt for a couple of days. Is it possible that this small amount of weight is causing my back pain?

Yes it is possible that the extra weight is causing your back pain. However, I would ask that you look at a few other possibilities as well. Back pain can come from a variety of sources, ill-fitting shoe wear, hard floor surfaces (i.e. concrete is harder on the body than solid wood), as well as de-conditioned musculature. Although it may not seem like a lot, 3-4lbs of added weight specifically to your waist (or more likely your hip bones), is significant especially when added all at once and for extended periods of time. I am not familiar with the different types of tool belts, but if you could find one that is similar to a harness that would fit over your shoulders and be secured around your waist, this may help reduce the load directly to your low back. However, this is not the solution to the problem. As with any physically demanding job, it is imperative that you are conditioned to withstand the load that is being placed on you several hours a day. To assist with this, I would recommend that you begin to incorporate exercises that will strengthen your abdominal muscles, so that they can assist with the load that is being placed on your back while working. Since you require the recruitment of your abdominal muscles for extended periods of time, I would recommend that your abdominal exercises be done isometrically (without movement). An example of this is the plank, this exercise is done in a push up position, on hands and toes (or less challenging is the prone hover, done on elbows and toes). Hold this position for 30 seconds, working your way up to 2 minutes and repeat 2-3 times. This is just a starting point for your conditioning program, to increase your strength, it is important that you continue to challenge yourself. For a more comprehensive program designed specifically for your needs, consult a professional in your area.

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