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Why am I Shrinking?

Tell me how tall you are. If you are have not been measured in a few years, my bet is that you are shorter than you think you are and most likely shorter than you were 10 years ago. Due to the aging of bones, joints, muscles and discs, we are getting a little shorter every day.

Let’s talk….

Estimates vary on where you look, but on average people lose ¼ to ½ inch every decade after age 40 or 50, with losses increasing in later years, and women generally losing more than men. Research from the Baltimore Longi­tudinal Study of Aging, for example, found that women lost an average of 2 inches between the ages of 30 and 70 (and just over 3 inches by age 80). Men lost a little more than 1 inch by age 70 (and 2 inches by 80). There is a wide variability: Some people lose an inch or more in a single decade, some shrink only after age 60 or 70, and a few don’t shrink at all.

One of the biggest reasons for shrinking as we get older is our spine. The discs, which start out with a high percentage of fluid in them, as they work as a shock absorber in the body, gradually lose that fluid. This dehydration gradually narrows each affected disc space and shorten the spine. If there is a history of disc herniation, this dehydration can happen at an earlier age and much faster.

Osteoporosis is also a culprit. With the loss of bone height and density, the possibility of fractures increases, especially in women. In turn, a fracture will again reduce the height of the vertebral body.

Between disc space narrowing and osteoporosis, there is often a loss of the normal curves of the spine. The body, wanting to correct itself, changes its normal posture to bend the knee and hips to keep the head in line with the feet, .and again there is a loss of height.

Preventing this completely is almost impossible, but there are things we can do to slow the process down. Look after your back. Get a bone density. Take calcium and vitamin D, and do weight bearing exercises early and throughout your life. Some of us cannot afford to lose an inch, let alone three.

Last modified: December 11, 2020

4 thoughts on “Why am I Shrinking?

  1. My problem with hearing about shrinking in your 40’s is abit daunting. I am a twin i have a sister taller than me because when my mother was pregnant my sister took all the nutrients and they just thought my mother was having 1 baby. Right at the last minute i was noticed and then arrived. My sister and i are now 30 she is 5’6 and i am 4’10. For some reason i expected to grow abit taller but it didnt happen. I find 8 ins is quite alot as for her she looks her age i look like i am 16 the most. I think that for me my mistake was doing gymnastics as i was told about 6 years later than it stunts childrens growth. I did it from 9 to 15 yrs old.All of us in this gymnastic group was all under 5’0. I dont think anyone grew during our time there. Altogether there was 16 of us 10 were girls and 6 boys. we were all at the same school so we all knew each other. When we were at school together it was all 16 of us that didnt grow much.The 6 boys only ended up no taller than 5’2 all the girls were under 5’0. I know i am only 30 nut i have now got osteoporosis due to the gymnastics. So for me i think shrinking is kicking in before 40. I know so because i was 2 ins shorter than my mum but i now stand under 4’10. My gp checked me out and i was told i am now 4’9. I am now at the hospital to the hospital and i have my tests back as i suffer alot of pain in my back and i have had a scan done. My consultant tells me that the bone structure isnt good and my spineis going to start to curne. It isnt looking good as someone with problems is looking at at least 6 ins lost in my curved spine. I think i will be around 4’4. I have some info on clubs for people with this problem as there are groups to meet people. I cant quite get my head round the problem of ending up so short and with nothing that can be done. ……

  2. My thoughts on shrinking as you get older are true.I noticed when i was 45 that i was abit shorter than i was. I have always been 4’11 and i am now 60. all my family are short my parents are 5’3 and 5’5. i have a brother who is 57 and he as always been 5’5 just like our dad.I also have a sister who is 55 and she as always been 5’1. I couldnt understand why i was the oldest and the shortest. My husband stands at 5’6 i have always stood below his chin. It must have been when i was 45 that i thought i was getting shorter. I had a physical 2 years ago and my height was measured at 4’8 so within 15 years i have lost 2 ins. I am even lower than my husbands chin than before. my daughter would always point out that i seemed shorter than before i mean and she is 5’4. i get the feeling that if you are short then people will notice it more. I am told when i reach my 80’s that i could lose another 2 ins so i could end up at 4’7 or 4’6. i didnt mind being 4’11 as my grandfather was also my height. i remember he hated getting shorter as he got older he ended up losing 5 ins so he was 4’6. He never liked being short my grandmother was 5’2 . It is such a shame he isnt here anymore a i liked being around him. Idid pick up a height chart as i like to know on my birthdays if i am still shrinking. That is what i mean when you sre short you stand out more. I tend to blend in more with children about 10 or 11. Since i was 45 i have had to just buy childrens clothes they fit better and dont need taking up.The las trousers i bouth were aged 10 yrs.My shoes used to be size 2 i am now a size 12. i cant do shoppinh on my own as i cant reach hale of the items i need or i cant get the items out of the big trolley i now try to use a small trolley. I think it is all downhill from now on…
    I can only try to get on with it.My grandchildren are forever always wanting cuddles but i feel smothered when they do it. Same as with my husband he als0 does it .He also tries to lift me up but i tell him off.
    Thats Life I Suppose.

  3. more of a question than a comment, but several years ago I was hit by a car while walking my dog, he was doing 60 mph and i broke my pelvis in 5 places also my knee and ankle. Just lately I was getting tired of my lower back hurting all the time so i made a trip to see a doctor, they had me get an x-ray and found one of my lower vertebra had a fracture and compressed disc’s. do you think this was something that was missed from the accident with the pelvis injury? and can it cause a reduction of height? just curious! thanks Dave

    1. Hi David. You don’t mention when the back pain started or your age etc. As we get older, we are more likely to have fractures, especially if there is osteoporosis present. Activities and occupations are also a factor. Fractures in the lumbar spine are often visualized on pelvic x-rays , but not always.Both the fracture and the compressed or degenerated discs can cause loss of height.

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