The only consoling news about getting shorter is that if you have friends your same age, they are also losing their height! Most people after menopause associate their loss of height to osteoporosis, the condition that leads to bone loss. That may be true but there are other influences that lead to your bone loss. Some of these more subtle kinds of shrinkage begin to take place in your 40s. It is a good idea to know about these because you can make changes and influence the results of just how much bone loss takes place in your life.
Smoking and drinking can make all of these problems worse. Gravity. That force that keeps your feet on the ground takes hold and the disks, or cushions between the bones in your spine, get compressed over time. The back bones, or vertebrae, end up pressing closer together which also makes you lose a little height. Poor posture. Slouching can actually rob us of height because it contributes to muscle atrophy. Disk deterioration. The pads of fibrous tissue between the vertebrae that serve as spinal shock absorbers start to wear thin with time. This results in a gradual compression of the spinal column.Muscle atrophy. Bones alone do not keep us erect. Your muscles help support your skeleton. When muscles are weakened or muscle groups imbalanced, we tend to sag.
Did you know that everyone shrinks a little each day? We are not as tall at the end of the day as we were in the beginning. That is because as the day goes on, water in the disks of the spine get compressed or squeezed due to gravity, making you just a bit shorter. Once you sleep, however, your body recovers and the next morning you will be standing tall.
Shrinking it is not something that is dramatic or sudden. It takes place over years and may add up to only an inch or so or it may add up to 4 or 5 inches. This kind of shrinking cannot be reversed, although you can slow the process.
You start losing abut half an inch each decade after 40. The good news is you do not have to stand by passively by while your clothes outgrow you.
Posture adjustments can also help. Stand against the wall with the back of your head, your butt and your heels touching the wall. Notice the change in your spine. You are standing taller.Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol. Both can accelerate age-related changes. You can also maintain strong bones by getting enough calcium and vitamin D. You will want to take supplements because you will not be able to eat enough to get the amounts required. Strengthen your bones. Keep your bones strong to prevent fractures. The best way to do this to keep active. You will need aerobic exercise as well as resistant and weight bearing exercises. You are not gearing yourself up to be a body builder, so it is not something to consume your focus. Two or 3 times a week for 30 minutes will keep you in good shape if you are also active during the day. Improve your posture. Work on exercises that strengthen your back muscles. Yoga and tai chi are other options. Also work on strengthening your stomach muscles.
Here is another adjustment you can make: Stand with your feet about 6 inches apart, tuck your butt in, press your waist back, pull your shoulders back and down, lift your ears up without raising your chin, Now visualize yourself as straight and tall.
For most people losing a small amount of height does not cause any health problems. However, severe kyphosis, the medical term for being hunched over, can affect breathing and causes neck and back pain. Any loss of weight that takes place during this time can also have an impact about how your medications and treatment can impact you.
Okay everyone. Sit up straight. Put your head back on top of your neck instead of leaning over while you read the computer and let your chest lift up. No mater what happens you can still sit and stand tall.