When I was younger and felt self-conscious about my height, I used to slump a lot. I hated being tall. I wanted to be shorter; petite, even.
And now that all seems not only ironic but so foolish. (That’s probably low on the list of the foolish thoughts we all did when we were younger. May be folly for a future post…)
Now, in this so-called midlife of mine, I don’t want to be shorter. But the sad truth is that height loss is inevitable as you age – you typically lose almost one-half inch every 10 years after you hit 40. The loss is due to changes in your muscles, joints and bones.
So, what can you do? Aside from wearing heels – and that’s not an easy feat (pun intended) – you can try to prevent it by eating a healthy diet, exercising and preventing and treating bone loss.
Oh – and also there is another thing.
Stand up straight. Posture matters.
When I look back on photos of me in my younger days, I can’t help but notice the slouching and how it made me look. It may have made me look (a teeny bit) shorter – yet really, who was I fooling? – but it also made me look like a very unconfident, shy and unhappy girl (which admittedly, I was). And even though I was skinny, it made me look heavier than I was, too.
Aesthetics aside, bad posture is just plain bad for your body. Really. Who knew it could do so much damage?
- When researchers from San Francisco State University tested this out on students, having them skip or walk slouching down a hallway, those who slouched felt depressed and less energetic than the ones who skipped. Walking tall can increase both your mood and energy levels.
- A rounded back and shoulders pave the way for aches and pains. It leads to poor flexibility, which leads to increased stress on your body, since other parts of it have to compensate for the weakness in your upper body.
- If your bones and joints are out of alignment, the wear and tear on other parts of your body could lead to arthritis.
- And, poor posture, whether sitting or standing, can mess with your circulation. Slouching pushes your internal organs downward…your stomach protrudes…impeding a smooth flow throughout your gastrointestinal tract. Ideally, you want to put the least strain on the supporting muscles and ligaments as possible.
Now that I want to hang onto every inch of my height, you can bet that I’m standing as tall as I can – and it’s not only when I’m posing for photos. I also try to stay conscious of my posture when I sit, when I exercise, when I lift something and even when I sleep (belly-down is among the worst positions you can choose).
I also just started using a laptop stand (thank you, Griffin, for sending me this to try!) I’m amazed at how it makes a difference when I work on my computer – the screen is now eye-level, and I’m no longer sticking my head out like a turtle to look at the (lower) screen. (And although Griffin supplied the stand free of charge, I am in no way obligated to write this post, nor to tell you I love it if I don’t.)
Here’s a helpful link from Cleveland Clinic which guides you through proper posture positions and techniques.