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    Weight Loss and Pain Management

    By Cinder Ernst–

    I have been helping plus size folks for almost 30 years to get more fit. The people I work with are categorized as overweight, obese and super-obese. I don’t use that terminology, but I want you to have a picture.

    Most plus size individuals have been told to lose weight if they have knee, back, or hip pain. And most of these same folks have tried repeatedly to lose weight. Statistically, 95% of those who are wanting to lose weight eventually gain it back, with even a few extra pounds. Their pain gets worse and they are told to lose weight again. The cycle continues. What a quagmire! Most people end up feeling worse physically and emotionally.

    You may sadly start to blame yourself for joint pain. One of my dearest friends, for example, sustained a calf injury a few weeks ago that kicked up a pretty severe episode of back pain. He was convinced it was because of his belly. I could see him beating himself up. I know he’s been thinner than he is right now and he struggles with these same twenty pounds all of the time. He tries to lose weight, winds up not liking himself, and generally makes himself unhappy to no avail. There is no pain relief in sight.

    This may all sound familiar to you. It’s a really common problem. I therefore want to give you a different way to approach pain relief so that you can leave the quagmire behind. The takeaway message is that strength training works wonders for pain relief!

    Getting stronger is often the key to pain relief, especially for someone who is not working out yet. Strengthening your muscles to support your joints helps to take the pressure off of those joints. Getting stronger will help your joints to feel better. Building strength is also the first step to increasing your stamina and energy. The stronger you are, the more mobile you are, too. There is no downside to appropriate strength training. You don’t have to lose weight to be successful with strength training, and it’s pretty easy to implement.

    Appropriate strength training needs to begin from where you are. If you are pretty sedentary and have knee pain, seated butt squeezing, thigh squeezing and a hamstring stretch are often a perfect start. Look me up on YouTube and you will find all that you need to get started or visit the site Less Knee Pain ( and pick up the “Heal Your Knee” starter kit there. Those same exercises will often help to soothe back and hip pain as well.

    If you have been doing a lot of cardio in an effort to burn calories and have knee or back pain, make sure that you are stretching your calves, hamstrings, quads and lower back. To add some simple strengthening, you could balance for up to thirty seconds on one leg while squeezing your quads, core and butt muscles as you lift your ribcage. Try it now, if you can. Adding a bit of strength training and stretching can soothe the knee and back pain and improve the ease of the cardio.

    Most importantly, take the weight loss idea out of the strengthening exercises. Let strength training be about getting stronger and moving about in the world with greater ease. If you can move easier, you can move more and have more fun. Give it a try. Be easy and kind to yourself.

    Cinder Ernst, Medical Exercise Specialist and Life Coach Extraordinaire, helps reluctant exercisers get moving with safe, effective and fun programs. Her book, “Easy Fitness for the Reluctant Exerciser” (, is available in paperback and eBook. She specializes in fitness and rehab for plus-size clients, but her stress-free approach is suitable for all. Find out more at