My old mum has always said that “getting old is not for wimps” Never has a truer word been said.
Not only do we have to deal with the menopause, loss of memory, balance, and muscle mass to name but a few.
I now find I am shrinking!! Yes, I am getting shorter. Enough already!!
Yes it’s another aspect of aging, because as we age, we shrink.
Starting around age 40, we typically lose about 0.4 inches every 10 years.
Most of this height loss comes from gravity continually compressing on the gel-like discs or cushions between each vertebrae in the spine. These discs tend to dry out and become thinner as we age
The spine can also curve from front to back due to a loss of tone in the abdominal muscles. Finally, it’s not uncommon for your foot arches to flatten, making you even shorter.
So, what effects does this loss of height have on us?
It will affect our Proprioception, this is the subconscious awareness of our body’s orientation and movement.
The loss of height is a gradual process happening over years so we are not necessarily aware of it, so, the brain still thinks we are our original height
Based on signals from the inner ear and nerves in the muscles and joints, the brain determines the location of our hands and feet, even in complete darkness. Proprioception is learned through experience. And when our height changes, our proprioception is compromised.
As we age, we don’t always stay active enough to retrain keep our brain pathways. Proprioception ability diminishes. This is one of the reasons falls are so common in the elderly.
As the spine shrinks or curves, our reach changes, we walk differently, our centre of gravity shifts, the range of motion in our shoulders, lower back and neck changes, and our agility and sense of balance lessen. This is why it’s important to perform activities that retrain nerve pathways so our brains can keep us upright and balanced in our everyday activities.
So we need to get our Proprioception back
Getting your proprioception and developing the brain pathways that make it automatic takes effort and repetition, but it’s well worth it.
So let's get doing Balance exercises every day, my favorite balance is exercise is the Tandem stance
Make sure you are either barefoot or in stocking feet. In addition, use an armless chair to hold onto and steady yourself, if necessary.
In addition to balance exercises, It would be a good idea to do things that develop hand/eye coordination. If you participate in sports such as tennis,or golf which are are excellent options to improve hand eye. But, don’t forget about Pilates.
It isn’t necessary when it comes to improving proprioception to be perfect. Instead of “practice makes perfect,” think of it as “practice makes permanent.” We are just trying to retrain the nervous system to be able to work automatically and subconsciously when the need arises. It takes repetition to rebuild the brain's pathways.
You may notice positive changes almost immediately, but typically it takes a minimum of four weeks before you begin to experience permanent improvements.
Repetition is the key. you need to constantly practice and correctly perform an action 2,000 times to rebuild the brain's pathways. If 2,000 repetitions sounds like too much work, then you’re doing the wrong activity. If you find an activity you enjoy, getting to 2,000 will be the last thing on your mind.