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Back Pain Is More Prevalent Among Tall People
Back pain is common in the general population, but it is more common in the tall. A study of 17-year-old Israeli soldiers from 1998 to 2009, published in Health & Science Today, found that men over 6 feet tall were 44 percent more likely to experience low back pain, while women over 5 feet 7 inches were 22. % more likely to experience back pain than shorter women.
There are some things you can’t change and your height is one of them. However, being tall does not mean you are doomed to back pain. We must first identify the mechanisms of pain and then proceed to find possible solutions.
The way height can cause back pain is twofold. The first factor in height-related back pain involves the body structure itself. Tall people are particularly prone to disc degeneration and there are many possible reasons for this.
Taller people probably have taller spinal discs than an average-sized person. A study by Natarajan et al published in the September 1999 issue of Spine confirmed that tall disc height is associated with a higher failure rate. When a disc with medium surface and extra height is placed, extra pressure is applied. If a tall disc bulges, it will bulge more than a mid-height disc. This leads to an increased risk of nerve impingement in the form of sciatica.
Another possible cause of back pain in tall people is the distance between the arm joint and the lower back. The arm acts as a lever on the body. The closer the hinge (shoulder/armpit) is to your center of gravity, the less stress will be placed on the spinal discs when lifting objects. Tall people, who have a greater distance between the hinge and the center of gravity, put more pressure on the spine, especially the lower back.
If you are tall, it is important to strengthen the spinal discs with strong muscles. A solid core will help take the pressure off your discs. It would be wise to invest in a lumbar pillow to provide additional support to your spine while sitting. It is also important to avoid lifting very heavy objects and to practice proper body mechanics when lifting (for example, lifting with a straight back).
Postural dysfunction and strains
When you’re a tall person in a small world, you find yourself bending and reaching often. From doors to chairs, most things are not designed for you. Ergonomics and proper biomechanics are the keys to avoiding repetitive strain injuries.
For a tall person, an ergonomic chair is a necessity, not a luxury. The seat and arm heights of an ergonomic chair are adjustable. Some have built-in lumbar pillows. make sure these are adjustable too. No matter what your job is, your workplace should be adapted to your height. You may need a taller desk or work surface to avoid constant bending.
To limit the harmful effects of constant bending and reaching, you must train your body to move with maximum efficiency and without dysfunction. When bending over to reach an object, bend at the hips, not the lower back. This maintains your natural lumbar curve and takes pressure off the spinal discs. When bending under a low door, bend your knees or hips and keep your back and neck straight rather than tilting your neck to the side. These and other simple maneuvers could prevent height-related muscle strain, joint dysfunction, and disc degeneration.
If you need a more structured approach to correcting body mechanics, consider studying the Alexander Technique. This program focuses on effective movement that places the body’s structures under the least amount of stress possible. The Alexander technique can be practiced at home or with a trained instructor. See http://www.alexandertechnique.com/ for more information.
While you can’t change your height, you do have the power to limit its effects on your back health. The way you move and the spaces you work in can be modified to prevent or treat back pain.
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