Many of my 50 and over patients have voiced that they expect to shrink or get shorter as they age. This is more commonly voiced from women than men since women are at a greater risk to lose height after menopause. This phenomenon, however, is completely avoidable if the right steps are taken. We’ll discuss those steps to prevent height loss in this article.
Let’s first talk about why people can get shorter as they age and then we’ll discuss what can be done to prevent it.
Why: Factors Associated With Height Loss As We Age
Osteoporosis: A condition where the bones lose density and become more fragile. When this affects the spinal bones it most likely will lead to height loss due to the lack of strength and stability. Those who suffer from osteoporosis are also more likely to suffer from compression fractures of the spine.
Disc Degeneration: The discs in the spine are tough cartilaginous structures that are filled with a mucoprotein gel and sit in-between each vertebrae. The discs are responsible for acting as a shock absorber between adjacent vertebrae. Spinal discs also act as ligaments that hold the vertebrae of the spine together and as cartilaginous joints that allow for slight mobility in the spine. There are a total of twenty-three vertebral discs in the spinal column. If the discs begin to degenerate and lose strength this allows for the spinal bones to begin to compress and come together creating a shorter spinal column which means less height for the person affected.
Subluxations: A spinal subluxation is a misalignment of the vertebrae which results in restricted spinal motion and pressure on the spinal nerves at that level. Research shows that if subluxations exist and are uncorrected it can begin to lead to degeneration within just 2 weeks. Any degeneration of the spine or discs like we discussed above can lead to many health concerns with height loss being one of them.
Poor posture and a weak muscular support system: These two go hand in hand. Due to the demands of society today, we spend way too much time sitting! This leads to poor posture and weakness in our spinal muscles. Without the proper support system for good, upright posture we start assuming a forward head and rounded shoulder position which can lead to many health challenges.
What Can Be Done To Prevent Height Loss
You may find yourself asking what can be done about all of this? The answer is a lot, and none of the recommendations I have are to take medications, which often come with many side effects.
First and foremost, get moving! Exercise helps improve posture, keep your postural muscles and your bones strong! That’s right, just by exercising you can address 3 of the 4 causes of height loss! Make sure to incorporate resistance training into your exercise program because studies show that this how your bones get the stress they need to grow stronger. Weight bearing exercises in particular are great for the spinal bones.
Chiropractic adjustments to remove subluxations and keep your spinal joints mobile and your discs healthy will also prevent you from shrinking as you age. The combination of adjustments along with a well-designed exercise program will keep you upright and standing tall for years to come.
Checkout our blog about “Will Chiropractic Make Me Taller?”