The Tall Street Journal

Cheyenne asked about this as I worry about it.

Some of you are athletes and maybe you can add.

The first thing to note is that I am NOT a doctor and you might want to talk to one who understands this sort of thing. Your normal physician might be a fine person, but you need to talk to someone who specializes in sports medicine. Get assessed by them and they might prescribe a few sessions with physical therapists who specialize in sports physical therapy. This makes a huge difference.

I also don't want to come over as a fanatic. I do a lot of exercise I guess, but it is part of my life. Running is where I unwind and think. I don't own a car, so I use a bike to get around and that is combining transportation and exercise - a really good thing. Of course it is very easy to use a bike here. I do visit a gym maybe twice a week for thirty minutes to an hour to use their machines, but I mostly hate that. I also hate cardio exercises led by people. I do have a set of back exercises that are pretty easy, but boring that I talk about that get done maybe three times a week.

A lot of tall people develop neck and back problems and there can be permanent damage - just going out and doing something might worsen your condition.

It was stressed to me that I need to do exercises that strengthen my back. Yoga was strongly recommended, but I don't have the proper mindset for that. If you can do it, it is great and you are unlikely to damage yourself. I was given this link from the Mayo clinic showing some safe back exercises. I'm not very good about following them, but go through most of them about three times a week. I feel good afterwards.

Stretching, warming up and cooling down are all important when you are worried about the back and this is an area where you should probably get advice from a sports medicine guy. What I do as a taller than average person is a bit different than what an average person should do.

Walking, running and biking are all great exercises. Walking and biking are particularly safe. If you haven't run in awhile you might get a bit of coaching and pay real attention to your feet as it is easy to get injured. Keep good in good cardiovascular shape is important and an expert can tailor the right sort of exercises as we all have different muscle types. I am a distance type, so I run about an hour a day at least five days a week. Plus I don't have a car and bike everywhere - and I am not a slow rider. On my last few visits I was told I am very similar to an athlete, even though I am certainly not one.

I'm not a swimmer, but you might want to check on that if you are.

i was told weights are not a good exercise as we have longer lever arms and the forces can get too high for the bone and muscle cross sections. You can do them if you are careful and have someone show you, how, but usually they aren't good. By weights I am talking about heavy weights. They said light weights are fine.

Rowing and the elliptical were recommended as good all purpose gym exercises. The problem is some of the machines are not big enough to handle tall people and that can cause problems. A gym I use has three beautiful rowing machines and when I push back I run to the end of the track to a jarring stop. The company has a tall model. but my gym doesn't have it.

Keeping a good posture as much as you can is very important. I was told to walk as if I was short and trying to appear as tall as possible.

Learn how to lift things properly as you have this long back that can be damaged. They even stressed things you do a lot in the house - cooking, ironing and other housework should be done at the appropriate height or you are in risk of damaging your back. This also holds for work. I was told if I can't find an appropriate desk and chair that I should think about tracking down an expert and having one made.

At the risk of too much promotion I think things like the raised cutting board makes a lot of sense. Shipping one here was too expensive, so I had one made and it is *great*!!! Notice the amazing difference in her posture. if you live in the US, it is probably cheaper to get one from the place Colleen recommends. She loves hers as does a friend of hers who is only 6'1. Be innovative and figure out activities that may be causing problems and find fixes for them!!!

Keeping weight off is particularly important for tall people. It is that lever arm thing again. A moderately overweight tall person is much more at risk for back problems than someone who is of average height, but is similarly overweight. This turns out not to be a problem for me as I'm very thin, but if you have a problem with weight try to take it down for the sake of your back.

Oh - and this is important for women - be *very* careful about wearing heeled shoes. Many of them are pretty or even downright sexy, but they can throw your posture and hurt your back in addition to your feet and legs. If you must wear the uncomfortable sexy ones, make sure you don't actually walk or stand in them very much. My sports physician said he has seen a lot of 40 year old women who seriously damaged their backs and feet with improper heels when they were younger. It is much worse on tall women because we have longer backs. If you feel any back pain when you wear heels you should not be wearing them. All is not lost though. I like having a bit of extra height at times and find my Danskos to be more comfortable and giving me better posture than my flats. My running sneakers and bare feet are better than anything though.

I dance for fun and imagine that can be good, but I have never asked about it specifically. For those of you who are shy and have problems meeting people - I recommend this for other reasons:-) Most women love to dance and guys just don't figure that out.

So posture, posture posture; strengthen the back and make it more flexible and improve your cardio performance with regular walking, running and bike riding. Plus we have to be extra careful about how we life things.

(I can say a lot on finding bikes that fit too:-)


Jheri out

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Comment by Andy Fesler on March 19, 2011 at 1:19am

Thanks for the info. I work at a hospital. I don't have a lot of head room there. The hallways are surprisingly low. I get time to stretch when I am on break or when I go outside. The sinks and counter tops are just above my knees.


I've been wanting to get physically active. I will try some of these tips.

Comment by Kimberly McDaniels on March 23, 2011 at 1:00pm
I enjoyed reading your info.  I like to walk about an hour a day and do yoga about three times a week.  I find that also doing stretching exercises helps with my back. 


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