Monday, August 5, 2013

I Think Running's Making Me Shrink

During high school and college athletic physicals, I got poked, prodded, stuck, fondled, and measured. (And then the doctor came in ... thank you, I'll be here all week) Since about the 11th grade, I've always measured between 6' 1-1/2" & 6' 2" barefooted.  So with shoes, I figure I'm a solid 6' 2".  But the other night during dinner with friends, me and my friend Matt, who claims he's 6' even, stood back-to-back to find out who's taller.  I was ... but only by a couple of hairs on my balding head.  Which leads me to this conclusion ... I'M SHRINKING!!!

Proof that I'm getting smaller ... these glasses used to fit perfectly ... man, I'm a nerd!
I was really surprised by our impromptu tale of the tape when my friend Matt said, "Well, running makes you shorter!"  And after I thought about it for a while, I was convinced he was on to something.  So I went home and did a little research over the weekend.  And while I couldn't find any definitive proof, several running coaches theorize that running "temporarily" makes you lose a little off the top.  The reason being because your spine is believed to compress a little over the course of a run as it absorbs the shock from your stride.  Some studies I found estimate that you actually shrink up to 1/2" over a 30 minute run.  Along those same lines, many doctors who study running claim that the discs in a runner's back lose fluid much more rapidly over the lifespan than the average person.  This in essence flattens the discs out a little, and effectively reduces the runner's height.

However, most things I read blamed losing inches off of your stature simply on old age.  A 2011 Wall Street Journal article explains that as we age, we actually shrink in size about 1/3" per decade.  The article attributes it to the discs compressing, arches falling, and abdominal mass become much less dense which leads to poor posture and gives the appearance of a reduction in height.

So, does running make you shrink?  I dunno.  But I don't plan on stopping anytime soon.  So if you ever actually meet me in person, you might be surprised at just how short I am.  But take my word for it, I was once a strapping 6' 2" young man!  But this old, shorter guy could outrun that dude every day of the week - ha!
... be great today!


  1. At least nobody will accuse you of abusing performance enhancing drugs. (I can relate.)

  2. It's ageing that's the culprit. Sure we might finish a marathon shorter than we started but we finish the day shorter than we started too and stretch out a bit during the night.

  3. Dude, I hope not. At 5' 6" I can't get any shorter. I was hoping running would make me taller from all that stretching. Lol.

  4. So, I think I shrank from running due to foot collapse. My feet used to be super high arched - the foot didn't touch the ground on either side. Running led to signifiant collapse, and now I'm about 1/4 inch shorter (and a full size larger shoe).

  5. I'm short as it I know it's from all the running! Old age...definitely add that to the mix.

  6. That does make sense! I remember hearing you're the tallest in the morning because throughout the day your spine "shrinks" up and laying down/ sleeping elongates it back to normal. If that's correct, I'm sure running speeds that up. Honestly, as a tall woman, I'm cool with losing a couple of inches!


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