ONE of the most commonly espoused causative factors of lower back pain is height. If you are tall and have a bad back, chances are you have been told your height is to blame at one point or another.

Whether you are 5ft 2in or 6ft 6in, you have the same number of moveable segments in your spine at 24. It should come as no surprise that the size of these segments changes from person to person, with taller people having larger vertebrae.

Despite thicker and larger vertebrae, there is a relationship between being tall and experiencing more back pain. Although there are some conflicts in research on this topic, the general consensus is that you are about 1.5 times as likely to experience back pain if you are tall than if not.

Major problems exist with making these statements; what constitutes tall, for example. However, although reasons for the relationship between height and low back pain are not well understood, there would seem to be a certain amount of logic to this idea.

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.

Another problem with making statements such as being tall predisposes you to back pain is that a feeling of inevitability may prevent taller back pain sufferers from seeking treatment. There is no research suggesting that tall people are less likely to respond to treatment for lower back pain.

My advice to tall people is not to worry about an increased likelihood of low back troubles, but to embark on an approved exercise regime to fortify the muscles that safeguard the spine.

DR DAVID COOPER Worcester Chiropractic Clinic