Is Back Pain More Likely If You’re Tall?

is back pain more likely if you're tallThere are many risk factors for back pain that you can control – like your weight, posture, and even the position you sleep in. Your height, however, is not among them, yet it can influence your risk of back pain.

Adults have the same number of vertebrates in their spine regardless of height, but they’re generally larger in those with a larger body size. Despite this size increase, taller people are more prone to back pain, in part because the size increase may not always be a proportional one. In other words, it can sometimes be simply a mechanical problem. As noted by Worcester News:[i]

“Longer limbs mean longer levers, and although vertebrae are larger in terms of height, there is not always a proportional increase in width, making it harder for core muscles to resist the effects of long levers.”

Taller people may also be more prone to postural dysfunctions and muscle imbalances, particularly if they’re forced to slouch to use their computer or sit in cramped quarters for too long. Under ideal conditions, your workstation, home space and vehicle should be suited to your height, such that you’re able to use each without resorting to awkward postures or straining.

Tall Men are 44 Percent More Likely to Have Low Back Pain

A study conducted on male and female military recruits found a strong association between height and back pain. Men who were tall (defined as an average height of 6 feet) were 44 percent more likely to have low back pain compared with shorter men (average height of 5 feet, 5 inches).[ii]

Tall women (average height 5 feet, 7 inches) were also more prone to back pain (by 22 percent) than shorter women (average height 5 feet, 1 inch). Research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology also revealed that height was associated with increased risk of low back pain in both genders.[iii]

A Norwegian study also found a connection, with tall women (5 foot, 9 inches) at a 14 percent increased risk of chronic low back pain compared to average-height women (5 foot, 4 inches).[iv] In this case, the researchers believed a mechanical or hormonal influence could be to blame. They noted:

“In women without LBP [low back pain], a body height ≥170 cm [about 5 foot, 6 inches] may predispose to chronic LBP 11 years later. This may reflect mechanical issues or indicate a hormonal influence.”

You Can’t Change Your Height, But You Can Relieve Your Back Pain …

Prolonged sitting puts a strain on the lumbar region of your back, and this is often compounded by improper workstation ergonomics and an improper desk chair. Slouching while you’re sitting, holding your head forward, and rounding your shoulders make matters worse, as this can overstretch your spinal ligaments and strain the discs in your spine. Over time this can damage your spine and cause chronic back and neck pain.

If you’re tall, it’s essential to set up your workstation to fit your height, and this is true while driving too. Driving is particularly problematic because not only are you sitting in one position for extended periods, but you’re also using the steering wheel, brake and accelerator pedals. When done in poor posture, this can lead to low back pain, stiff neck, sore shoulders, foot cramps and more. You can find tips for proper driving ergonomics here.

Now, if you already suffer from back pain, a high-quality heating pad can work wonders, but not just any heating pad will do. The Deep Heat collection of far-infrared heating pads sends warmth up to 20 times deeper below your skin than conventional electric heating pads. This heat stays with you for up to six hours, increasing your circulation, which promotes healing so the pain stays away.

Better still, these unique heating pads don’t come in “one-size-fits-all” sizes, which decidedly do not fit everyone’s size or unique aches and pains. You can choose from:

  • is back pain more likely if you're tallThe Ultra: Designed for neck, back and spine pain relief.
  • The ISO-Wrap: Designed for joint pain relief, with cutouts that allow you to wrap the pad around joints comfortably, and Velcro straps to hold it in place.
  • The Full Body: Designed for full-body relief and to aid circulation from heat to toe. This pad is nearly six feet long and 24 inches long. You can even sleep on it.

You will not get far-infrared heat with ordinary heating pads, so buyer beware. Far-infrared heat has therapeutic effects, helping to boost your circulation, break down and flush out toxins from your tissues, relax muscle cramps and more. It’s a must for any back-pain sufferer.


[i] Worcester News September 1, 2015

[ii] Journal Sentinel November 4, 2011

[iii] Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Aug 15;178(4):603-9.

[iv] BMJ Open 2015;5:e006983


Filed Under: Back Pain
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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