Are you tall? Maybe too tall?
June 22, 2004 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Are you tall? Do you slouch? Do you think it's because you feel higher up in the air than other people? Do objects like desks and chairs often feel too low for you? Do you think maybe even doorknobs might be a little more comfortable if they were a few inches higher? Have you ever wasted time thinking of these things? Have you ever hit your head on windchimes at a short person's house? Did you consider suing, or at least tell them they were callous and insensitive towards tallish folk?

Do you have any tips for remembering to keep good posture, or exercizes that tend to keep your spine erect?
Yes or No answers are acceptible for the first para's questions. Also, there's no more inside.
posted by Shane to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Let's see: Yes. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. Yes. No.

Being tall is nothing anyone is ever going to feel sorry for you over. It is a cross that must be borne in lofty silence.
posted by vraxoin at 1:12 PM on June 22, 2004

Seems counter-intuitive, but stomach exercises (crunches, sit-ups, etc.) encourage good posture. I'm 6'2", and my back definitely feels better when I've been taking care of my stomach.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:14 PM on June 22, 2004

Yes, sometimes, no, yes, yes, yes (just now), yes, not until now
posted by Stoatfarm at 1:17 PM on June 22, 2004

Speaking as a tall person with a natural tendency to slouch, I've found exercise is the best remedy for slouching. Specifically, exercises which strengthen the core muscles of the abs & back and exercises which increase awareness of posture. Yoga is my favorite, though I've experimented with pilates.

In my younger days I explored Rolfing, Alexander Technique & Feldenkrais, which were all good for developing awareness of posture. However, without the fundamental strengthening/toning of the midsection it was easy to fall back into slouching as soon as my attention wandered. The yoga I do now helps me keep better posture even when I'm not thinking about it.
posted by tdismukes at 1:18 PM on June 22, 2004

Response by poster: Seems counter-intuitive, but stomach exercises (crunches, sit-ups, etc.) encourage good posture.

Opposing muscle groups work together! Thanks, MC & TD.
Heh! "...lofty silence."
posted by Shane at 1:21 PM on June 22, 2004

Tall, no slouch, no misplaced sense of altitude, bars and barstools are often built for teeny tiny little people, hit my head at every opportunity, if I let it bother me even a little bit I'd go on a multi-province kill-crazy rampage every damn day.

I think I just wrote the perfect personal ad.
posted by gleuschk at 1:44 PM on June 22, 2004

Yes. No. N/A. Yes. Yes. Yes. No. No.

I'm 6'-5", but since I'm an architect spending time thinking about doorknob and countertop is necessarily wasting it. It's just part of my job, and future planning for the idyllic sasquatch paradise that will be my own home. 7' doors! 42" counters! I pity the poor shorty who moves into my house after I'm gone. Mwahahahahaha!

Although I was sad a few years ago when I went to the county fair with my shorter brother and realized that I am no longer able to fit in many carnival rides. Zipper, we hardly knew ye.
posted by LionIndex at 1:51 PM on June 22, 2004

Please mentally add the word "height" after "doorknob and countertop". You know where.
posted by LionIndex at 1:53 PM on June 22, 2004

I'd second the recommendation to work out. I'm somewhat tallish (~6'1"), and go in and out of periods of slouching, typically as I go in and out of periods of fitness (lately i've been slouching a lot, unfortunately). As others have mentioned, the core is definitely important, but don't forget your upper back muscles as well, since they are what really keep your shoulders back and chin up when standing up straight. Along with core exercises (sit-ups, lumbar extensions, etc.) throw in some pullups, rows, and even things like shoulder shrugs. Or, to work your entire back at once just do deadlifts (added bonus: the farther away the floor is, the more you'll get out of each rep)
posted by rorycberger at 2:04 PM on June 22, 2004

6'5" here. No, it doesn't suck being tall, but there are some disadvantages!

I remember to stand up straight every time I see the other really tall guy here with the permanent slouch. My strategy is to spread my legs apart or lean back against a wall when I talk to people, so I can be on their level without slouching.

While I've not raised the doorknobs in my house, I did build handle extensions for my daughter's baby carriage, and I've put blocks under my desk legs to raise them a few inches.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:06 PM on June 22, 2004

My trick is to think of those elderly folks who slouched for many years and now have giant humps. I don't want a giant hump. That usually makes me stop slouching for a few hours.

Here's a question - what do you tall people do in your cars to keep your back from getting permanently curved.
posted by crazy finger at 2:14 PM on June 22, 2004

Not much to do, besides finding a car that has enough head-and-leg room. Plus, I don't drive much.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:17 PM on June 22, 2004

Yes; yes; sometimes; sometimes; no; yes; yes; I did sue and won damages, but it was overturned on appeal to the SCOTUS, those tall-hating bastards. NOTE: one of these answers is a lie.

Doing yoga for the past few years has helped tremendously, as it's helped me learn what standing or sitting up straight actually feels like. For me, I've learned to notice pretty quickly when my shoulders are hunched; when I roll them back, it helps me to adjust my posture overall. I also try to remember to look outwards when I walk (i.e., chin up, shoulders back) rather than down and slightly in front (chin down, shoulders hunched), and when standing to keep my tailbone under me (i.e., aligning my hips directly under my shoulders, rather than letting my lower back sway in and my bum sway out) -- stomach exercises have helped in that area too.
posted by scody at 2:44 PM on June 22, 2004

I heard it said that posture can't be changed as one resorts to their standard pose as soon as they stop consciously correcting it.

Then again ...
posted by Fupped Duck at 2:46 PM on June 22, 2004

six foot three here.
the Mayor's on to something -- workout more your abs (and back, of course). your back'll feel much more stable, your posture'll get better. also remember that, to a certain extent and in some cases, chiropractic (choose very wisely your practitioner though) and Rolfing can help a lot.
but first and foremost, do workout
posted by matteo at 3:01 PM on June 22, 2004

Yeah, 6'3" here too. God damn it was frustrating to find as I renovated my kitchen this year that to move the counters up a couple of inches would have meant custom everything - or building a 2" plinth under all the floor cabinets and appliances which I think I may actually go back in and do when I feel like spending hundreds of dollars having the plumbers back in. Grr.

Oh, and I don't slouch but then my Dad was 6'7" ("was" not because he's dead but because he's shrunk down some) so I never thought of myself as tall.
posted by nicwolff at 3:27 PM on June 22, 2004

or you could just boost up the stove/deal with it being lower. What else did you have to do custom?
posted by jeb at 3:38 PM on June 22, 2004

Vraxoin is right: no one will ever sympathize. Personally, my lower back is a mess, so fromt time to time I do special stretches (per my father's suggestion) that involve laying on my back, arms extended above my head, and curling my hips over and over to flatten my lower back flush against the ground. That helps.

It is a blessing and a curse.
posted by sixfoot6 at 3:43 PM on June 22, 2004

I'm shortish (5'8" short for my generation of North American males anyway) and I slouch. Don't know about the rest.
posted by Grod at 3:44 PM on June 22, 2004

Here's a lengthy post on back pain I made a few days ago. The relevant bit is the taping part. Taping is about the only thing that made a real, permanent change in my posture.

It can be tricky to get right, if you're seriously considering it go find a physical therapist and talk to them about taping and proprioception. If you just want to try it out for a day or two, try the instructions in the post.

Oh yeah, and the abs.
posted by daver at 8:40 PM on June 22, 2004

Just re-reading the linked post. The instructions aren't clear enough: tape 2 5-6 inch strips of 1 inch tape about 1 inch away from your spine on either side. Start at the bottom of your shoulder blades and tape up until you reach about the level of where your neck begins (you can find the big ol' atlas bone in your sping there too if you dig around).
posted by daver at 8:43 PM on June 22, 2004

Hey daver, your link just went to your profile -- can you try that again? I'm very curious!

And yoga, here I come.
posted by josh at 10:39 PM on June 22, 2004

6'3 here and agree on the exercise advice. I don't really mind low countertops or doorknobs as much as I do low bathroom mirrors. The mirrors in my parent's bathrooms show me from the shoulders down. I also hate a great deal of computer desks. That little piece of decorative trim that nearly every manufacturer adds below the work surface makes for some nice bruises. Although unrelated, I'm constantly amazed at the compactedness of bus seats. I ride twice a day to and from class for only 10 miniutes or so but am always amazed how uncomfortable they are.
posted by ttrendel at 10:48 PM on June 22, 2004

Doh! This lengthy post. Sorry!
posted by daver at 11:00 PM on June 22, 2004

I'm 6' 6" and have slouched pretty badly for most of my life due to what they thought at the time was a mild genetic curvature at the top of the spine. There were exercises that I was supposed to do whilst a growning teen to try to correct it, but I was too lazy and disorganised to bother. They mostly involved curving the spine backwards by lying on the belly and lifting the top half of the trunk off the floor, or crouching on all fours and pulling the right arm and left leg off the floor and arching them upwards (they repeating on the opposite side, obviously). I guess that they were probably only useful while the body was still growing though.

Personally I think you're just doomed if you're tall. The world conspires against you being able to stand up straight whilst still walking through doors, looking in mirrors, looking people in the eye whilst talking to them, and walking with your arm round your wife without resting your elbow on your head. And don't even get me started on stairs... :-p

By the way - if you have a number of the following symptoms - very tall, natural tendency to slouch, thin / almost skeletal, disproportionately long arms or legs, high palate, curvature of the spine, crowded teeth, short sighted, then you might want to ask your doctor for a diagnosis of Marfan Syndrome. I've recently discovered that I might have it (my father almost certainly has, and it is a genetic condition with a high chance of inheritance), and can cause catastrophic heart and lung problems if unmanaged. You don't even have to have many of these symptoms - the only one that my dad had was very tall (hence why it was undiagnosed until his massive aortic dissection last year...), and if I transpire to have it then it is only on the basis of very tall + curvature of the spine.
posted by bifter at 2:58 AM on June 23, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips, folks. Lotsa good stuff here. I'm only 6', so maybe I shouldn't complain.

I'll get heavier into yoga and take heed of all of your tips. I think aerobic exercize helps too. I remember during high school cross-country my posture was good and I couldn't even slouch in a car, as bad posture just felt uncomfortable and my muscles were always pulling my back straight.
posted by Shane at 6:18 AM on June 23, 2004

Response by poster:
...future planning for the idyllic sasquatch paradise that will be my own home. 7' doors! 42" counters! I pity the poor shorty who moves into my house after I'm gone. Mwahahahahaha!

Heh! Like you and nicwolff, LionIndex, I too dream of a house built tall. Just think how subtly disconcerting it would be for other people, and how long it would take them to realize why!

Why not go all the way?, sez I. Make the doorways 8', and don't just make the furniture and counters tall, make them big and bulky, out of thick, rough-hewn, dark wood. Use those trendy, monstrous cappuccino mugs and set them on full-size plates instead of saucers. Use large wooden soup spoons and salad forks for sIlverware, and buy some 12" iced tea glasses.

Then get yerself a huge Irish Wolfhound, and watch with delight as short people run screaming from your house thinking they've wandered into the giant's castle out of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Yup. That'd be good fun.


posted by Shane at 6:20 AM on June 23, 2004

I'm 6'7 when I straighten up, but my family has hump tendencies, so I better start doing something.
posted by mecran01 at 7:36 AM on June 23, 2004

Actually, Shane, my first priority will be raising the showerheads. Until I got my current apartment, I'd always have to contort myself or kneel in the shower to be able to wash my hair.
posted by LionIndex at 7:42 AM on June 23, 2004

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