How to shrink in height overnight?

Shrinking With Age: “What Do You Mean I’m An Inch Shorter Than I Used To Be?”

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by Louise Kramer, NextTribe.com

We have reached that age where our annual check-up can bring a shocker—we’re losing height, even if we take great care of ourselves. Louise Kramer talks about the half inch she’s missing and what she’s learned about standing tall as long as possible.

At my annual physical, I’ve always dreaded getting weighed. I don’t need a scale to tell me if I’ve gained a few, but I’ve never had a problem being measured. I step right up, shoulders back, stomach in, nice and tall and proud. Until this year: My GP measured me, and I have shrunk a whole half inch. I was robbed!

No longer can I claim I’m (almost) tall enough to be a fashion model or feel superior to my big brother because I have a height advantage. Those cute flats I bought for dates I hope to go on were probably a waste of money. Chance are, I won’t exactly tower over whomever is the lucky fella.

Still, I have it pretty good in the height department. At 5 feet, 6 inches tall these days (au revoir 5 feet, 6 and a half!), I’m a full three inches taller than the average American woman. When I get upset about my looks, which thank goodness is not as often as in my younger years, I calm myself by thinking, “at least I’m tall.”

That said, I do recognize that getting shorter is one of the indignities of aging. It will happen to all of us, and there’s virtually nothing we can do to stop it, says Dr. Frank Schwab, spine service chief at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. There are, however, relatively easy ways to compensate.

The Source of Shrinkage

So why the shrinking? Like so many things in life, it boils down to water. The inner part of the cushiony discs between our vertebrae are spongy and gelatinous. As we age, the chemical composition of the discs changes very gradually and retains less water. “We all lose some of the water content in the disc, so the discs settle down,” Schwab explains. “And if you think of the whole spinal column, and you think just a few millimeters but across an entire spine, it all adds up, so we get shorter with age.”

In some cases, losing stature is due to osteoporosis. Your vertebrae can get so weak that they develop microfractures, which cause the bones to settle or collapse, Schwab says. Fortunately, it’s not the case too often. If caught early, osteoporosis can be treated with medication to stop the bone loss from progressing. All women should be tested for osteoporosis starting at age 65, according to recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. If you have risk factors such as a history of cancer, like I do—I had breast cancer—you should get a bone-density scan sooner, doctors say. I got my first scan when I was 51 and have had several since. It’s quick and painless, much like getting an x-ray.

I don’t have osteoporosis, but I fear it. My favorite older cousin, a second mother to me, was bent in half for the last decade of her life due to the disease. Taking vitamin D and calcium can help maintain healthy bones. Women ages 51 to 70 should take 1,200 mgs of calcium and 600 units of Vitamin D daily, according to the National Institutes of Health. “Everybody should be taking vitamin D and calcium, period,” says Joseph Lane, chief of the Metabolic Bone Disease Service at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Weight-bearing exercises can also help maintain healthy bones; I’ve been doing them since I was 40.

Do You Shrink as You Get Older? The Big Bend

But wait, there’s more! We’re not just shrinking: We might be starting to stoop forward because of a condition called kyphosis, an exaggerated, forward rounding of the back that occurs mostly in older women, according to the Mayo Clinic. The thoracic, or middle, spine naturally curves slightly outward. As the discs in that part of the spine compress with age, they become more wedge-shaped and the curve can become more prominent. Severe cases are known as a dowager’s hump. If that’s your issue, your doctor can advise you.

Losing stature is gradual. It begins as early as our 30s, but it typically starts in our 50s or 60s and is a slow, continuous process. People typically lose about half an inch each decade. After the age of 80, it’s possible for both men and women to lose another inch, according to a website for Medicare recipients. My father, almost 99, is at least four inches shorter than the dad I used to know. My mother, who died at 92, not only shrank three or four inches, but she also stooped forward.

Which makes me wonder, Should I buy capri pants—i.e. shorter trousers—now? “You can’t change your genetics. Some people will get shorter faster than others, and some people will be curved forward more than others. It’s very hard to change that,” Schwab says.

Short-Circuiting Shrinkage

But there are ways we can compensate. I can, for instance, change how I stand. My posture is not the greatest. When I catch my reflection in a window, the woman I see is slouching. Now that I’m shrinking, I’m motivated to stand up straighter. Hello, exercise: Dr. Schwab recommends doing strengthening exercises for muscles in the back and buttocks. They control how much we learn forward, he says. A strong back can counteract the forward pull of the spine.

I turned to my niece, Brenda Kramer, 27, a personal trainer and CrossFit instructor in Los Angeles, for advice. The core comes first. “You need to have those core muscles strong enough to support you in whatever exercise you are going to be doing,” she says. In addition to doing core exercises for stability, she suggests squats, dead lifts, and bridges where you lie on your back, squeeze your butt and “punch your hips to the sky.” I like going heavy with the weights, but my niece says it’s not necessary. “You don’t need to go super-heavy to train your back or your butt to make them stronger,” she says.

For people with serious posture problems related to kyphosis—I am grateful this is not the case for me—there are exercises intended to help offset curving forward. I found some programs at Livestrong and Healthline.

I’m also contemplating taking up yoga, especially after speaking with Lara Warren, 50, a senior certified Iyengar yoga teacher in New York who has worked with women concerned about their height. Iyengar yoga emphasizes complete alignment of the body, mind, breath, and soul. Nice! It starts with standing, by rooting your feet to the ground and pulling up through your body in a pose, or asana, known as tadasana, Sanskrit for mountain pose. “Through practice of asana, we are bringing consciousness to every cell of the body. We don’t have to succumb to gravity,” Warren says. For women who know their way around a yoga mat, Yoga Journal has numerous exercises targeted at improving posture.

The Art of Illusion

For fashion tips to help make a person look taller, I phoned a friend from my professional life, Adam Glassman. He’s the style editor of O, The Oprah Magazine, and has dressed Ms. Winfrey for countless cover shoots. Oprah, by the way, is 5 feet, 7 inches tall. “She hasn’t shrunk at all yet,” Glassman says. Nevertheless, she goes for monochromatic dressing which creates a tall, lean look, he says.

I don’t think about my torso much (thighs and stomach, yes), but it’s key to the illusion of height. You want to make it look shorter so your legs look longer, Glassman says. That means high-waisted pants and skirts and form-fitting dresses, none of which I own—or at least not yet. Pants should be so long they almost hit the floor; no pleats allowed. For the longest line, they should fit close through your hips and legs until the knee, when it’s okay to have them flare.

Shoes are critical. “You really want a pointy shoe that makes your foot look longer. From the tips of your toes to top of your head, every little inch or half an inch makes a difference,” he tells me. I didn’t have the heart to say I already wear a size 11 and that my foot looks plenty long enough without enhancement.

Here’s how else Glassman recommends creating the impression of more height: Scoop necks, V-necks, wearing the same color from head to toe, short jackets and cardigans, vertical stripes, and hose to match your shoes. Don’t wear hose? Then shoes should match your skin tone.

The day I spoke with Glassman, I had to go to an event. I wore black tights to match my skirt and broke out my black heels. My top was a little long for my torso, but it did have a nice scooped neck. I felt taller—possibly a solid 5 foot, 7 inches. And that was just the point.

Vision, hearing, memory and hair are just a few things that tend to disappear as the candles increase on our birthday cake. Unfortunately, height can be added to this list. In fact, we can begin shrinking as early as our 30s, according to some research.

Men can gradually lose an inch between the ages of 30 to 70, and women can lose about two inches. After the age of 80, it’s possible for both men and women to lose another inch.

Why do we shrink as we age? Dr. Pham Liem, a geriatrician at the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, says that we can shrink for several different reasons.

“Older adults can get shorter because the cartilage between their joints gets worn out and osteoporosis causes the spinal column to become shorter,” he says. “Adults can also lose lean muscle mass but gain fat. This is a condition called sarcopenia.”

Sarcopenia is characterized by a decrease in muscle mass, which leads to weakness and frailty and also a decrease in height. Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and fracture, which can also cause a person to become shorter.

Should we pay attention to how fast we lose height? Yes. Shrinking too fast can be an indication of a much bigger problem than having to hem your pants. Those who lose one to two inches within a year may be at a higher risk for spinal and hip fractures as well as heart disease in men. If this occurs, you should consult your doctor.

While we may not be able to control some changes to our body as we age, there are some habits we can change to prevent losing as many inches. These habits include slouching, a lack of physical activity, smoking, drinking alcohol or caffeine excessively, extreme dieting, taking steroids and poor nutrition.

“Research has shown that a good diet in your later years reduces your risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease and certain cancers,” UAMS neurosurgeon Dr. T. Glenn Pait says. “Even though you might need less energy as you get older, you still need just as many nutrients from food.”

Eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, such as dairy, fruits and vegetables, can help keep your bones strong. Also, doing weight-bearing exercises can help thwart shrinkage.

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It’s true! Grow older, get shorter autoplay autoplay

You’re not imagining it: You’re shrinking. And as the years slip by, you’re just going to keep getting shorter. This morning, TODAY contributor Dr. Roshini Raj explains the phenomenon discussed in a Wall Street Journal story last month.

“A little bit of shrinking is a normal part of aging, and it happens because of three things, basically,” Raj says. First, as we age, the discs between our vertebrates lose fluid, so they flatten a bit and your vertebrates “simply come together, so your spine is actually shrinking a little bit,” Raj explains.

The arches of your feet also tend to flatten a bit as we age. Finally, we lose muscle mass as we age — especially in our abdomen, which leads to poorer posture — which gives the appearance of being shorter.

On average, we shrink about a quarter to a third of an inch per decade for every decade after 40. All told, men will get about 1.2 to 1.5 inches shorter, and women will lose up to 2 inches, by age 70. “For men it’s less prominent because they have more muscle mass in general and their bones tend to be stronger they lose less height,” Raj says.

If you’re losing more inches than that, it could be a sign of osteoporosis — very weak or brittle bones that make you more prone to fractures. Check it out with your doctor. Smoking excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption and not exercising can also make you more prone to losing height, Raj explains.

But you can stop yourself from shrinking too much by regularly exercising — especially weight-bearing exercises like jogging or running, or other activities that work the legs and the hips. A diet rich in vitamin D and calcium also helps — try almonds, broccoli or kale, or you can take supplements. One last trick: Maintaining a good posture keeps your bones healthy, and keeps stress off your vertebrae.

Do you think you’re getting shorter as you age? Do you remember watching a parent or grandparent get smaller as the years went on? Leave a comment telling us about it.

Is being tall good or bad?

Height is just a physical parameter of any person. It can only decide whether a person is tall or short; it can never decide on his capabilities and strengths.

In short, being tall can only have these advantages:

  • You can reach just about anything indoors without a stool or ladder.
  • There is a scholarship just for tall people; TCI Foundation
  • You automatically come across as more attractive, athletic, and intelligent (even if you’re none of those things).
  • You can make lots of tall jokes and call everyone else short.

If you look around you, there are mixed versions of people. Be it tall or short, everyone makes his way out and earns what he always wanted in his life.

But, these are the disadvantages of being tall:

  • Hugs can be awkward.
  • You become the living ladder.
  • Beds can be way too small.
  • People behind you, curse you for not letting them see what’s in front of them.
  • You are considered the intelligent and an athlete by birth, but in reality you suck at both. Cheers.
  • Everyone just keeps asking you your height all the time.
  • You have a trouble time adjusting your long legs in an airplane seat.
  • You have to bend over to be able to catch people half your height.
  • You will have to fight with the open umbrellas to protect your dearest eyes.

So, all the shorties around don’t worry, life gives you many opportunities to prove your worth. Wait for them and grab them at correct times.

17 Unexpected Perks Of Being A Tall Girl

Ever since fourth grade where my entire class was lined up tallest to shortest and noticed that I was a head taller than all the girls and even eight percent of the boys, I’ve been in a love-hate relationship with my height. I think everyone has that ~one thing~ they would like to change about themselves, and mine was always my height. That is until I woke up one morning and thought to myself how crazy it is to be ashamed of something that not only was out of my control, but something that made me individual and unique. I’ve learned to appreciate sticking out a little, and if anyone is intimidated by a tall girl, that is THEIR problem, and not mine.

The truth is that being tall is the tops. Being in the top percentile of height is the most swag-tastic statistic you can be in. And ladies, being tall has a set of perks you have not thought about enough. And you should start thinking about it. Get in touch with yourself and show some self-love, because you have a very special gift. So if you are ever feeling a little self-conscious, just think about all of the points below until you feel better:

1. Being Tall Means More Organizational Space

If your room looks like a war zone between your closet and your desk, it might be time to invest into shelving units. Your clothes and office supplies will suddenly separate into organized bunches that you can easy pick up without having to dig through piles. And guess what? You can get cool looking shelves that are out of the way because you can reach really high. All because of your height. Mazel tov.

2. You Save Hella Money On Dresses

When you are tall, floor length means floor length, not “some-place-under-your-shoe” length — and which means you get to save money and time on getting that sucker hemmed. You won the lottery because your dry cleaner’s bill will be nonexistent.

3. Drive Through Windows

Do you know how awkward drive though windows can be?! You drive up to the window to grab the food only to see that your car is pretty far away. You can’t back up because there are people behind you, so you are stuck. BUT WAIT. You are tall. Which usually means long arms. You can reach out of your window, grab the food, and be out of there without breaking a sweat. Your milkshake is safely inside the car and not on the floor. #Blessed.

4. Concert Part 1: Front Row Crotch Shot

Ever been to a concert? Have you ever been in the front row? Chances are, if you are lucky enough to be that close, you will have to deal with the repercussions. Meaning, more than likely you will have to be faced with the performers crotch being on eye level with you. Unless…YOU’RE TALL. When you are tall, you will not be subjected to an eyeful of HELLO. You will most likely be closer to the belly button or belt line. That’s a win for everyone.

5. Concert Part 2: Seeing Is Seeing

Let’s face it, if you are in the crowd during the concert you most likely WON’T be right by the stage. But you came to see Dave Mathews Band, dammit, so thats what you will get! And lucky for you, your height means you actually get to see them belt out their greatest hit like_______ (please hold while I Google… there we go… yup… good, good, good — got it) their greatest hit like Crash Into Me.

6. You Can Ride All The Rides

The thought of worry over not being able to get on a roller coaster hasn’t entered your mind since you were eight years old. You are king of the theme park.

7. Cash Money, Y’all

There was a scientific study that took a look at people’s heights and how much money they make, and apparently if you’re taller, you tend to make more money than people who aren’t. Hello Burning Man, here I come!

8. No Need For Heels

You never have to worry about putting on a pair of heels to help make yourself a bit taller. You are tall enough. But when you do put on a pair… you’re basically invincible.

9. People Tend To Listen To You

You command attention when you walk into the room. You can’t help it. And why should you?! You deserve to be heard. Whether it’s in the bar screaming for your friend to grab you a beer, or in a boardroom, you will get the proper level of attention you need. Use it wisely!

10. Lightbulbs Are A Breeze

It’s almost like you just have to reach up and everything works out perfectly. You can read in peace without having to call a handyman with a stepladder.

11. You Are A Hug Machine

Being tall means you give the kinds of hugs that make people feel safe and loved. Thats a power that many humans wish they had. They pay Deepak Chopra money for the same feels he can only provide with words!

12. You Are Never Late

Being tall means having long legs. Your walks are brisk and to the point! You are never late because you had to park the car four blocks away.

13. Kissing Is The Bomb

If you end up dating someone as tall as you, there’s no neck craning. No sore calf muscle. No back tension. Your kisses are face-to-face.

14. No One Will Mistake Your Significant Other For A Parent

This one doesn’t need further explaining. Basically you’re on the “totally fine” side of the Greek tragedy scale.

15. You Slay At Maxi Dresses

You never need to pinch and lift them when walking up or down stairs in order not to trip.

16. Versatility

You can be the big spoon or the little spoon. Either way, you’re killing the spooning game.

17. Best Seat In The Car

You are never made to sit in the back because your legs can’t bend that way. Instead you will be right by the driver, enjoying all the luxurious room you want. (Suckers.)

Images: Giphy

The Average Heights of Men Around the World

It may be tricky to measure your height at home without some help. If you’d like to see where you stand, consider asking a friend or family member to help you.

Measuring your height with a partner

  1. Move to a room with hard flooring (no carpet) and a wall that’s clear of art or other obstructions.
  2. Remove your shoes and any clothing or accessories that might skew your results. Take out any ponytails or braids that might prevent your head from resting flat against a wall.
  3. Stand with your feet together and your heels against the wall. Straighten your arms and legs. Your shoulders should be level. You may ask your partner to confirm that you’re in proper form.
  4. Look straight ahead and fix your gaze so that your line of sight is parallel with the floor.
  5. Make sure your head, shoulders, butt, and heels are all touching the wall. Due to body shape, not all parts of your body may touch, but try your best. Before taking any measurements, you should also inhale deeply and stand erect.
  6. Have your partner mark your height by using a flat headpiece, such as a wall-mounted ruler or other straight object, like a book. The tool should be lowered until it touches the crown of your head with firm contact.
  7. Your partner should mark only once, making sure their eyes are at the same level of the measurement tool, carefully marking where it meets the wall.
  8. Use a tape measure to determine your height from the floor to the mark.
  9. Record your height to the nearest 1/8th inch or 0.1 centimeter.

Shop for a tape measure.

Measuring your height by yourself

If you don’t have another person to help you, you may still be able to measure your height at home. Consider purchasing an inexpensive wall-mounted meter specifically for height, or follow the steps below:

  1. Again, stand on a flat surface with a clear wall that doesn’t prevent your body from making full contact.
  2. Then stand tall with your shoulders flat against the wall and slide a flat object, like a book or cutting board, along the wall until you can bring it down to make firm contact with the top of your head.
  3. Mark under the object where it lands.
  4. Use a tape measure to determine your height from the floor to the mark.
  5. Record your height to the nearest 1/8th inch or 0.1 centimeter.

Shop for a tape measure or a wall-mounted height meter.

At the doctor’s office

You may get a relatively accurate measure at home, especially if you have help and follow all of the steps. However, it may be a good idea to get your height measured at your doctor’s office as part of a routine physical exam.

The equipment at your doctor’s office may be better calibrated, and your provider may be better trained at gathering the most precise measurement.

Earlier this year I drove from New York through a slippery sleet and into Massachusetts to find Asa Palmer, the youngest brother in a family of three sons all my height or taller. As kids, Palmer and I lived around the corner from one another and played low-stakes rec league basketball against each other. His family were local celebrities, the tall parents with the three super-tall sons who played basketball.

Today, Palmer works as an arborist. His hands were huge and strong and his thick black beard was laced with white, the first frost of middle age.

We sat in his dining room and drank Sierra Nevada, ate cheese and looked at a photo album with his four-year-old daughter. We laughed about the one-liners he used to try to end the height conversation more quickly. Asked how tall he was, Palmer liked to say: “It depends on the humidity” or “It depends on the time of day.”

Palmer and I nodded in recognition about many things, like the way we try to give a wide berth to women on the street at night because it’s so obvious that they fear us like Frankenstein himself has appeared. He asked about the extreme difficulty of buying shoes and trousers in a one-size-fits-all-world, and the scar tissue on the top of my head.

We commiserated over footboards on beds and, most of all, airplane seats. We talked about how we don’t dare get on to roller coasters any more, too afraid the safety bar won’t click into place and we’ll go flying out at a curve or a loop. I did a zip-line in Guatemala once and emerged with a bloody stripe along my temple; I was too tall and my skin burned along the wire as I hurtled downward.

Palmer remembered the strangeness of growing into his body, and what it was like for him at school to be “a toothpick with these feet that just shot out of nowhere and wouldn’t stop”. He recalled the radiators trembling when his 6ft 6in father hit his head on the steam pipes while doing laundry in the basement, along with his muffled cries of pain, and laughed at the memory. It probably goes without saying that his laugh is deep and resonant.

There was the time when he was 19 years old and he went with a girlfriend to see Elton John and Billy Joel. The usher kept coming down the aisle and shining his torch into Palmer’s eyes. He didn’t know what he was doing wrong until finally someone started yelling at him: “Stop standing on the chair!”

There was the family trip to Peru with his father, who taught Latin American politics, where he watched the locals form an orderly queue to request photographs, one after another, beside his oldest and tallest brother Walter, simply for being over 7ft tall.

“Even to me,’ Palmer said, “he’s tall. It’s comforting. It feels so nice to look up and speak to somebody. It’s so rare.”

His other relatives are tall, too. “To be in the family and see his 6ft 3in and 6ft 4in nieces standing totally, perfectly tall without a care in the world about their height, there’s no awkwardness,” says Palmer’s wife, Wenonah. She is 5ft 7in tall, above average, but well within the normal range. “It’s just amazing and wonderful, which I’m so grateful for.”

There’s no one in my family as tall as I am. When you’re different, you need to have people around who understand, to commiserate but also to laugh with. I never had that example; never had a Walter to let me know, as Palmer put it, “the normalcy of size and that everybody’s happy and there’s nothing weird or particularly strange about it.”

“It’s something,” he reminded me, “to be proud of.”

This is an edited version of a story originally published in Topic, a digital magazine of visual storytelling

Dutch men revealed as world’s tallest

Image copyright Thinkstock

When it comes to height, Dutch men and Latvian women tower over all other nationalities, a study reveals.

The average Dutchman is now 183cm (6ft) tall, while the average Latvian woman reaches 170cm (5ft 7in).

The research, published in the journal eLife, has tracked growth trends in 187 countries since 1914.

It finds Iranian men and South Korean women have had the biggest spurts, increasing their height by an average of more than 16cm (6in) and 20cm (8in).

Life for the tallest and shortest

In the UK, the sexes have gone up virtually in parallel by about 11cm (4in). “Mr Average” in Britain is now 178cm (5ft 10in) tall; Ms Average stands at 164cm (5ft 5in).

This contrasts for example with men and women in the US, where the height of the nation’s people started to plateau in the 1960s and 1970s. Over the century, they have seen increases of just 6cm and 5cm (a couple of inches), respectively.

Indeed, Americans have tumbled down the rankings. Back in 1914, they had the third tallest men and fourth tallest women on the planet. Today they are in 37th and 42nd place.

The height charts are now utterly dominated by European countries, but the data would suggest that growth trends in general in the West have largely levelled out.

The smallest men on the planet are to be found in East Timor (160cm; 5ft 3in).

The world’s smallest women are in Guatemala, a status they also held back in 1914. According to the survey data, a century ago the average Guatemalan 18-year-old female was 140cm (4ft 7in). Today she has still not quite reached 150cm (4ft 11in).

East Asia has seen some of the biggest increases. People in Japan, China and South Korea are much taller than they were 100 years ago.

“The parts of the world where people haven’t got particularly taller over this 100 years of analysis are in South Asia (such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) and in sub-Saharan Africa. Here the increase in height is between 1-6cm in those regions,” explained co-author James Bentham from Imperial College London.

In fact, in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, average heights have actually fallen since the 1970s. Nations like Uganda and Sierra Leone have seen a few centimetres come off the height of the average man.

Some of the variation in height across the globe can be explained by genetics, but the study’s authors say our DNA cannot be the dominant factor.

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionWhy have the Dutch grown so tall?

Lead scientist Majid Ezzati, also from Imperial, told BBC News: “About a third of the explanation could be genes, but that doesn’t explain the change over time. Genes don’t change that fast and they don’t vary that much across the world. So changes over time and variations across the world are largely environmental. That’s at the whole population level versus for any individual whose genes clearly matter a lot.”

Good standards of healthcare, sanitation, and nutrition were the key drivers, he said. Also important is the mother’s health and nutrition during pregnancy.

Other research has shown that height is correlated with both positive outcomes and a few negative ones.

Tall people tend to have a longer life expectancy, with a reduced risk of heart disease. On the other hand, there is some evidence that they are at greater risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal, postmenopausal breast and ovarian cancers.

“One hypothesis is that growth factors may promote mutated cells,” said another Imperial co-author, Elio Riboli.

The eLife paper – A Century of Trends in Adult Human Height – was put together by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, a group of 800 or so scientists, in association with the World Health Organization.

The work, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust and Grand Challenges Canada, was presented here in Manchester at the biennial EuroScience Open Forum.

The nations with the tallest men in 2014 (1914 ranking in brackets):

The nations with the tallest women in 2014 (1914 ranking in brackets):

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