Sep 2014 20

Getting older, staying fit

By: Dave Wheeler

As we get older things start to slow down.

Nowhere is this more so than the development of our muscles & bones.

In this post we'll look at how those of us who feel age might be getting the better of us can help stop what might seem like the inevitable "old persons' stoop".



pic by stockimages at


Ageing and bone regeneration

Throughout our lives from the moment that we're born, to the moment that we die, our bones are in a constant state of regeneration.

Our skeleton's renew themselves.



pic by Victor Habbick at


This process of skeletal regeneration is called bone remodelling

To make bone remodelling happen, 2 things need to occur:


  1. Cells called osteoclasts secrete an acid that "melt" mature bone that's past its sell-by date, in a process called bone resporption.
  2. Cells called osteoblasts work together to create new, strong bone in a process called ossification


The continual cycle of removing older bone material and replacing it with new bone keeps our skeleton strong.

The trouble is, that as we get older the cycle slows down.

Until the age of around 40 our entire skeleton is being replaced every year or 2.

By the age of about 50, bone destruction (resporption) is happening faster than bone creation (ossification) - this means that our bone density lessens and our bones become weaker.

As the bones become weaker, they become easier to pull out of shape - which brings us to our next topic... muscles.


Ageing and muscle mass



pic by photostock at


Just as bone regeneration slows down with age, so does the process of building muscle mass.

From the age of 40 owards, we lose about 1% of muscle mass a year. It's not that muscle is harder to put on - we actually LOSE it.

The really bad news is that, from age 50 onwards, just at the time when your bones are weakening, that decline picks up speed.

In extreme cases, you could get to the age of 75 with only half the muscle mass that you had in your 30's!


Starting to stoop

What all this means is that if you're continually using muscles then those muscles will stay strong.

But muscles that you don't use, will wither away (or atrophy).

So, if you've spent your life with your head forward, like this



then the muscles at the back of your neck (in red) will be really strong and will pull on your weakened frame.

The muscles at the front of your neck will be really weak, and will atrophy, so they won't be able to counteract what's happening at the top of your back.

The result is that, unless corrected, you'll develop the "old persons' stoop"


Keeping (in) shape as you age

The best way to make sure that your frame continues to support you properly is to use your muscles.

Find a form of exercise that you like: whether it's pilates, cycling, zumba or the gym - just work those muscles to stop them becoming weak.

If you're worried about the possibility of your posture become worse as you get older, don't worry, there's almost certainly still time to do something about it. A good remedial soft tissue & massage therapist will be able to give you pointers and exercises to set you on the right path.

As ever, if you think I can help, give me a call.