"You are not 5' 7" I informed my client.
"Really" said the client! I used to be 5' 9" but I am definitely 5' 7" these days.
This is a conversation I have had for years and with hundreds of clients. We do shrink a little with the passage of time due to the continual compressive forces that act through the spine and the natural dehydration that occurs in the intervertebral discs, in fact this happens throughout a short a time period as a day 😱
So, here's a little fun: Measure yourself in the morning and then measure yourself in the evening, it's not uncommon to lose a centimetre over the course of a day as things compress and dehydrate. But, then remeasure the next morning you will have regained that height! At night when we lay down the compressive forces come of of the spine and the discs rehydrate, opening the spine up again. Its a clever thing the body.
Many years ago we achieved a clients dream with this little bit of knowledge. They wanted to join the RAF, as an officer no less, but they had an issue, 2 issues actually. The first was that their height to weight ratio was to high and they couldn't get past the first hurdle, so they visited the clinic to engage our personal training services to drop a little weight. A good plan I should add as we are also exercise physiologists as well as therapists 🧐.
However, when they arrived it was clear they were carrying plenty of muscle but very little fat and were only half a centimetre short of the required height. Unfortunately for them the RAF were interested in the height and weight relationship, which does not differentiate between lean tissue and fat as a measure of 'weight'.
We never ended up training them, we offered a slightly different solution. That solution revolved around an almost throw away comment they made during the initial consultation. They "didn't like early mornings" (Well that'll be a slight shock then when they join up 🤣).
So I asked a simple question: "When have you been going to the recruiting office for tests?". (ESSO house for those Bristolians of a certain age 😄) Given their opposition to early rising, it was a bit of a rhetorical question really 😉......"in the evening" they replied. Ah ha! just the time they had lost height during the day! Based on the physiological occurrence we are discussing in this blog and the fact they were only half a centimetre off the height measure required; I suggested they go for the tests at eight in the morning. The immediate response was predictable! (definitely in for a shock once joined up 🤣🤣......🤣🤣🤣).
However, after I explained nature of how and why we 'shrink' throughout the day and regain height overnight, they agreed to give it a go. They were immediately accepted at their next test 😀
Now, this increase and decrease in height throughout a 24hr period is perfectly normal. But if that's the case why was my client only a consistent 5' 7" no matter what time of day she measures her height? Well this is where she needed the kind of help we offer here at the Reinge Clinic. Humans rely on the correct strength of a very specific, very deep and very small set of spinal muscles that create space between vertebrae, support and stability of the spine itself, which are not to be mistaken for the core! (You can have a strong core but poor spinal stabilisation!)
When we tested these muscles on my client they, were both weak and engaging at the incorrect time. This is an incredibly common situation which we have visited in several previous blogs, and has the result that the larger muscles of the back begin to over work. Whilst these larger muscles 'can' provide a degree of support and stability they also end up creating compression of the vertebrae. A compression that because the large muscles have now shortened into this position mean the spine can no longer open up overnight, even when unloaded. So apart from seeing a 'mysterious' loss of height this is also lining the person up for disc issues, nerve impingements and in the long term arthritis 😒. It is also the cause of most general back pain as the muscles have become so tight they hurt to move.
This, of course we can totally reverse here at The Reinge Clinic and its not difficult if you have the tools for the job.
So there we have it: Thats one reason you can lose height and there is plenty that can be done to combat that. But there is a second reason you can 'apparently' lose height: ..........tune in next week and I will run through that one too 👍