Do We Shrink As We Age?

There is a popular quote that reads, “Do not regret growing older, it is a privilege denied to many". As true as that statement is, there is no denying the many changes that happen to the body as we age. Vision, hearing, memory, and hair are just some of the things we lose with age, but what about height?

Do We Actually Shrink?

We’ll jump right into it — shrinking is a natural part of the aging process. Here are three reasons why:

  1. The discs of the spine shrink. The spinal discs are pumped up by fluid. As we age, less fluid gets to them, causing them to flatten. Therefore, the spine loses length.

  2. The arches of the feet fall. Along with age comes the flattening of the arches of the feet, which will cause just the slightest loss of height.

  3. Muscles lose mass. The muscles help the body to stand up tall, and eventually they lose mass. The loss of muscle mass causes posture to falter, giving the appearance of being shorter.

Don’t worry too much, though. Shrinking may be a natural part of the aging process, but it’s not a drastic loss. The average person can expect to lose 1/3-1/4 of an inch every decade after the age of 40. That means the average male will have lost about 1 1/2 inches by the time he turns 70, whereas a woman could lose up to 2 inches.

Can We Stop the Shrinking?

There isn’t a whole lot you can do to stop the aging process, but there are measures you can take to stop shrinking from affecting you too much.

You can start by ensuring regular exercise is a part of your routine, particularly weight-bearing exercises like jogging and running. Weight-bearing exercises work the hips and legs, which can help support bone and muscle mass. Getting the proper amount of Vitamin D will also support the body, as it contributes to strong bones. Make it a goal to add foods rich in Vitamin D to your diet, like kale, broccoli, and almonds.

Another way to keep shrinking at bay is by practicing proper posture. When you maintain great posture, you help your muscles stay strong, your bones healthy, and you prevent unnecessary strain from being put on your spine. Learn more about proper posture here.

Our last suggestion is to seek out regular chiropractic care to keep your spine healthy through all stages of life and to help prevent shrinking!