Trauma is a type of injury that occurs when something hits you, or when you hit something. So what does this have to do with being tall? A lot.
Tall people are more likely to be seriously injured in crashes and other trauma causing events. Tall people’s heads are closer to roofs; knees are closer to dashboards; and shoulders care loser to doors. Also, protective devices like seats, airbags and head rests are designed for average people and may not work optimally with a tall person. In some cases, poorly fitting airbags and seat belts may actually CAUSE injury in a tall person.
In fact, people over 6′ are 27% more likely to be injured in a car crash than someone shorter. source
Another factor is leverage. Leverage is responsible for many worn joints and bad backs in tall people, but it also makes us more vulnerable to bone breakage in an accident. Try this. Take a pencil or a small stick. Grasp each end and break it. Easy, huh? Now take one of the pieces and break it in half. Not so easy.
Now take one of the small pieces and break it in half. A lot harder, no?
The longer the piece, the easier it is to break. The same works for the bones in a tall person, they’re easier to break than the bones of a shorter person of the same build.
So how do you prevent trauma injuries? You can’t, completely. But you can be aware of a situation and reduce your chances of being injured.
- Adjust safety devices properly. Make sure car head rests are behind your head, not your neck.
- If a car shoulder belt is adjustable, take the few seconds to adjust it to fit you properly.
- Avoid seats where there are bolts, brackets, lights or other protrusions near your head or shoulder, especially on trains or subways. If your car has protrusions that threaten your knees, arms or other body parts, sell it and get something with more interior room. Watch out for dome lights, grab bars and coat hooks. Even if they are some distance away, they can do a lot of damage if they come in contact with your head in a crash.
- Make a point to do a full stretching routine before exercising.
- Don’t get involved in contact sports without proper conditioning and protective gear. If you roller blade or skateboard, wear knee and elbow pads. Take extra care in sports that involve quick changes of direction at high speed, like skiing. See a sports specialist if you develop pain that does not go away in a day or two.
- Talk to your doctor about bone density, especially if you’re a woman. Tall women with osteoporosis are more likely to suffer bone breakage and spine curvature than short women with similar bone densities. Don’t wait till you retire, a sensible time to start an osteoporosis prevention plan is about age 30.
- Don’t fall for the “big and strong” myth. Being tall doesn’t impart any special ability to lift heavy objects. Your muscles are longer, but not necessarily larger. In fact, due to the leverage effect, you should be even more careful lifting. Wear a back support and always lift from your knees, not your back. Take care of yourself today, or spend many days with a physical therapist tomorrow.