If you do an online search for exercises for tall people, you’ll come up with pages upon pages of articles targeted towards men only. Exercises specifically for tall women are harder to find.
The most immediate physical issues we tall women face are poor posture and the lower back and neck pain resulting from it. Most homes and workplaces are built with the average height person in mind, so the countertops and desktops we use daily can poorly affect our necks and spines. Instead of relying on methods that treat the symptoms like chiro or physical therapy, why don’t we find ways to proactively counteract our daily height compromises?
Here are some ideas I’ve found useful:
Avoid the adjustable machines at the gym. Use free weights.
According to Women’s Health Mag, most of the machines at your local gym are designed for a person of 5’5’’ height. So, if you’re 6’0’’ or taller, you won’t be able to adjust to the correct ergonomic position. That goes for your elliptical machine, too. If you belong to a gym (and I do), it’s always better as a tall woman to use free weights or cardio machines without handles.
Take a class that focuses on alignment.
Yoga and pilates are obvious examples. Let’s skip them for now and highlight two more that you may not know.
The Alexander Technique is a method that retrains your body to let go of unnecessary muscle tension and realigns your posture. I was first introduced to this method when I studied theatre at university. Many actors learn this method to become aware of their bad habits, harness more control over their bodies, and restore the unburdened posture they had as toddlers. Have you ever noticed how regal and straight a child’s posture is? Observe one and see what I mean. You can find an Alexander class nearby on their site.
Barre is a fast-paced ballet-inspired workout that focuses on small, isometric movements to improve your posture, strengthen your core, and enhance your mobility. The classes mix elements of ballet, yoga, and pilates for a full body workout. You don’t have to be a dancer to take this class, but it helps. And unlike other kinds of exercise, this one is easy on the joints. Also known as Pure Barre, Physique 57, Bar Method, and the Lotte Berk Method (the woman who founded the practice).
Use a foam roller.
If you sit at a desk all day, which many of us do, you’re likely to have extremely tight hamstrings, which contributes to lower back pain. I’m a big fan of using these rollers, because they’re an inexpensive, lazy way to improve your flexibility, release stress, improve circulation, and reduce muscle soreness. Mine looks like this (cost: $16.95 but you can find them for as low as $3.95 USD). Try these helpful exercises with your foam roller featured on Oxygen mag, complete with pictures.
Do a plank every day.
I briefly worked for a startup where the boss and I (I was his only employee) would plank for two minutes at lunch and meditate for 3 at the end of the day. Planking was a pleasant break from the burden of sitting in front of a computer screen. The meditation helped to quickly strip away the present stress and refocus me for the next adventure. I loved it. Doing a plank is an excellent way to strengthen your core, which can reduce lower back pain. Planking also helps to improve your balance and your posture. Also, it costs nothing.
Tall women: I hate exercising, I really do. Unless it’s a dance class where my brain is focused on learning a new technique, or swimming, where I can pretend I’m a mermaid, I don’t want to do it. It’s important for me to remember why I must exercise.
An acting teacher once told me that you can tell a person’s age by how they move. The older one gets, the more cautious their movements. Observe a 20-year-old and a 30-year-old walking down the street and you will notice. Although I tend to hunch my shoulders, I’m not currently in any pain nor have I sustained major injuries. I exercise because I want to fully utilize all of the gifts of my body. I want to walk into a room with my core activated, my posture vertical, and not slouching. I want to use my whole body every day and know that I played hard and used everything I’ve got. Also, I want my body to know that I’m grateful for it by taking care of it.
I still have a lot of work to do in order to fully incorporate exercise into my life, but I’m making progress. My second barre class starts Monday.
Baby ballet steps,