Submitted by Dr. Jennifer Penrose for Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy

We work with clients 40+ and I often hear them say with a chuckle, “Yep I’m shrinking.” Honestly this is no laughing matter. If you are shrinking more than .5 inches a year, or more than 1.6 inches in your life time then you likely have had a fracture in your spine (the vertebral column) due to soft bone or what we call osteopenia and osteoporosis. Don’t panic as it has healed, but it has healed in a way that has left you shorter. Think of soft bone/osteoporosis like butter and if you slouch or work in front of you most of your day (which is almost all of us) then that can load the vertebrae/bone and cause a silent compression fracture.

Penrose physical therapy lacey yoga-therapy
Yoga Therapy. Photo courtesy: Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy

A silent fracture means you do not feel it happen! You only notice the loss of height or shrinking over time. Can we help people gain height? Yes, but not by causing the bones to grow. We have seen patients gain an inch in height by stretching the tight posture muscles and giving them posture activities and yoga-type exercises. It is a myth to think shrinking comes with age. It is also a myth to think you can’t do anything for the rounded upper back posture. You can improve that rounded upper back posture and certainly prevent it from getting worse.

If you are a pre- or post-menopausal woman with the rounded upper back posture you certainly need to keep reading and be sure to get in touch to prevent this from getting worse. It is amazing that some things never change. Remember someone along the way likely told you to sit up straight. Walking around with a book on our head might help train us to keep a better posture and avoid that awful rounded upper back. I wouldn’t start with that, but instead, try sitting with your ears over your shoulders at all times. Next, try intermittently squeezing your shoulder blades together. And don’t forget a brisk walk will do good for your bones and for improving your posture! What else can you do about shrinking and soft bones? You definitely should discuss getting a bone scan if you have lost .5 inch of height in a year or 1.6 inches in your lifetime. You should be on a good calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K2, magnesium, boron, zinc and other trace minerals supplement. You should definitely be aware of how that affects bone density. Did you know proton pump inhibitors really affect your ability to absorb Calcium? Using an isotonic supplement (powder that mixes with water) has a 95% absorption rate. Make sure you are taking a supplement that is actually absorbed. If you want more information please email jennifer@penrosept.com.

Ultimately, rounded upper back posture can create compression fractures if you have soft bone and it also affects neck pain, back pain and headaches.  And believe it or not the upper rounded back/slouched posture also affects the mechanics of your shoulders and can create impingement leading to rotator cuff problems. Don’t wait for the pain to get so painful you can’t ignore it.  In fact, most of the time I hear from patients they wished they would have started therapy sooner!

Penrose physical therapy lacey posture stretch
Posture stretch. Photo courtesy: Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy

Penrose Physical Therapy is known for their expertise in helping 50+ move better, decrease pain and enjoy retirement! We specialize in knowing how to best help arthritis, tendon problems, and osteoporosis/soft bone.

Besides physical therapy we have small group training classes (limited to six people for most classes) that are designed to improve posture, flexibility and increase bone density and build strength without causing more pain! “Penrose Posture” is modified chair yoga that you will feel the results without irritating your rotator cuff, arthritis or stenosis. “Penrose Power” is designed to improve bone density, strength, and balance without irritating your arthritis or tendons. The small group training classes allows great feedback and ensuring you do things properly. If you keep finding yourself getting injured in your workouts, or you are afraid of getting hurt, or you are shrinking and you don’t know where to start then call us at 360.456.1444 and we would be happy to see whether you should start with physical therapy or with the classes.

We are located at 1445 Galaxy Drive NE Suite 301, Lacey.  We have free tips reports on the Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy website. Follow the podcast “Stay Healthy South Sound” to hear more tips. You can listen on iTunes, Google Play and Spotify.

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