Not all patients come to see me for painful conditions. Some see me because they don’t like what they see in their aging bodies, and they believe I can tell them how to fix it. I’ve shared one of those concerns previously on 1010 Park Place: why our butts get flat and wide.
Moving up the body, we come to the poochy belly and muffin top. Of course, some of us get muffin tops and poochy bellies when we’re 25. Having babies and gaining weight can cause these formations. But there are many of you who stay trim your entire life, lose the baby fat quickly, trim up the tummy muscles and get back in shape. You’re amazing.
But even if you maintain a trim adolescent body as you age, you will begin to develop a wideness in the back and belly. This is always associated with feeling fat in the lower abdomen. You’re less taught. The belly pooches, and as seen with a second mirror, we get muffin tops, love handles, and sometimes sagging skin under the shoulder blades.
Women often complain their lower rib seems closer to the top of their pelvis (the iliac crest).
Some women see chiropractors for manipulation of their ribs and hips. They are told by some therapists that their joints are shortened and can be manipulated into their former length, so they participate in Pilates and yoga, thinking they need to adjust their posture. They do crunches, planks and bridges to build up weakening abs. Sometimes they injure themselves with an all-too aggressive exercise program, or if they do damage to their ribs…or something else.
This phenomenon is the result of some of the same issues that cause a wider butt – the shortening of our spine. It’s the by-product of a loss of disc height in all of us, and the loss of vertebral height and deformity in those of us who suffer from osteoporosis. This in turn results in less space for organs, muscles and flesh, and the relative weakening of the abdominal muscles. It’s using the same bowstring on a shorter bow. The shortening of the spine puts the rib cage closer to the pelvis. I’ve seen some women whose ribs are essentially touching the top of their pelvis.
Again, my point here is to underscore a natural process and encourage you to accept some of the changes to this wonderful body which has brought you so far. Of course, you can try to prevent the things which are preventable:
- Maintain your weight, in those of us whose metabolism and gene pool allow it.
- Do your weight-bearing, aerobic and strengthening exercises, Pilates and yoga.
- Take your calcium and Vitamin D.
- Stand up straight…as long as you can.
- Suck it in!
Above all, don’t hurt yourself. And ditch the rear-view mirror. We are more than our muffin tops and poochy bellies over 50.