If it seems like I’m dissing women on the natural decrepitude of aging, first let me say the same things happen to men. It happens less often to men because of the natural differences between us. Women have less muscle mass, and we have fatty deposits in different places. We get osteoporosis earlier than men. We are different, and therefore, we age differently, but there is another difference. Men just don’t seem to care as much. You’re more likely to see women having face lifts, tummy tucks, and liposuction than men, although these statistics are changing as men are becoming more obsessed with the maintenance of a youthful appearance.
But since 1010 Park Place is all about us gals, let’s talk about women over 50 and preventing a slumped spine.
You can take a few early steps to minimize and prevent it. But if you already have a curved spine, and it doesn’t correct much when you “stand up straight,” you know I’m going to encourage you to treat it with loving kindness.
The slumped spine (kyphosis) is the result of a perfect storm of factors. There are reversible factors such as gradually weakening muscles and bad habits. Then there are the less reversible conditions like loss of disc space and osteoporosis. As we age, we lose cartilage in every joint: vertebral spaces, hip, knee, and ankle. In the spine, this occurs in between every… single… vertebra. This is responsible for some of our loss in height.
Although I’m not suffering from osteoporosis, yet, I have lost over an inch of height in the past 10 years!
If I’d known a way to stop the cartilage loss, I surely would have done it, but I’ve accepted my shrinkage as mostly the result of that loss. The loss of my height may also come from the loss of the fat pads on the bottom of my heels. Yup, we all had fat heels when we were young.
The loss of vertebral disc space is particularly noticeable in the thoracic spine, where we naturally have a forward curve. Disc space loss further exaggerates that curve. Add to it the feminine habit of standing in a slightly slumped position, the tendency to look down as we become more unsteady on our feet, and the potential to sustain compression fractures. All of these can contribute to developing a very slumped spine.
Here are some things you can do to prevent a slumped spine and all the conditions associated with it, such as a sagging chest, hyper-extended neck, as well as back and shoulder pain.
- Address prevention of osteoporosis with a physician soon after menopause.
- Gently maintain the strength of the back and shoulder muscles which help support good posture.
- Work on balance training and correct your vision as needed, so you don’t feel the need to constantly look at the ground.
- Study and take steps to prevent falling. Search “fall prevention” on another one of my blogs for more on this.
- Be mindful of your posture.
- And as always, continue to love the body that got you to this respectable age!
Prevent the things you can prevent. Correct the things which can be improved. And love all the rest.