Aging and its Effects on Pelvis Bones; How to Limit its Impact and Potential Implications for sufferers of Pelvic & Low back pain

There’s no escaping a bigger butt as you age…

Are you getting a wider butt as you get older? Do you often look in the mirror while wearing your favourite jeans and think that the old hips are a little “fuller” than they used to be in your twenties? Then you’re probably right; but if you assumed it was due to the accumulation of fat on the hips, then you’re only partially correct.

Sure, as we get older it’s only natural to sneak on a few extra pounds in the middle-years, usually depositing mostly where we least want it; hips, thighs and butts for girls and the old “Ned Kelly” for the gents. Nature and time can be so unkind!  However recent research published in the Journal of Orthopedic Medicine has found that pelvic bones widen as you enter middle age and continue to grow even among those over the age of 70 years!

While it is often assumed that the widening of the hips is due to an increase in body fat, researchers led by Dr. Laurence Dahners say that it is a natural process not linked to weight gain and that the pelvic bones of a 40 year old are wider than when he or she was 20 years of age.

The researchers examined the CT scans and found that width of the pelvis, the distance between the hip bones and the diameter of the hipbones increased in size as they grew older and continue to widen even as they stopped growing (vertically).

So folks, from the results of this research it would appear that the “middle-aged spread” has a two-pronged attack to rob us of our youthful physique!  Ok, so you’re probably wondering what you can do to limit the scourge of the imminent big butt?!

Although not mentioned in their research I would logically assume that some among us are more susceptible to widening of the hip bones than others, as I often say, a Bulldog doesn’t get to look like a Greyhound by eating like one!  Genetics- that random unification of your parents DNA that created all that you are, for better or worse, in the physical sense at least.  No changing them.

Don’t want a big butt; then get your ass into gear…

According to research in the field of exercise science we tend to lose 0.5 Ibs. of muscle each year starting around the 3rd to 4th decade of life depending on activity level.  This doesn’t sound like much but after a decade you’re down 5 Ibs. of metabolically active muscle tissue that is essential for effective fat burning.

The amount of muscle tissue you have will determine your ability to burn fat, that is, the more muscle you can maintain as you age the less fat you will store.  To achieve this you NEED to perform regular strength training sessions 2-3 times each week.  And if you’re trying to limit the big butt expansion then you need to be working the butt muscles- the gluteus min/med/max- best achieved through squats, lunges, step-ups and many more.

What’s all this got to do with your low back pain?

So far we know that our pelvic bones get wider as we age- and by extension, if they get wider then the biomechanical relationship between the hips, pelvis and low back must change also.  Does this widening contribute to early wear and tear and low back pain and pelvic pain as we age?

We already know that the general build up of wear and tear (known medically as Osteoarthritis) in the pelvic bones and spine as we age is a cause for low back pain, loss of function and generally has a negative impact on our quality of lives.

Muscle strengthening is a key component of exercise for osteoarthritis sufferers because of the relation between muscle weakness and pain and function.  That is, the more muscle we lose, the weaker we are and the greater the loss of function and increased pain in our osteoarthritic joints.

Are you seeing what I’m getting at folks?  Time to move that ASS! Get Physical! But don’t just race out the door and join your local gym.  You need a specific exercise prescription if you have a history of low back pain and pelvic pain, from a registered practitioner and whatever you do, take it slowly and maintain perfect technique- otherwise you’ll be paying my mortgage in treatment sessions to fix it!

The moral to this blog:

  • You can’t escape a big bum…totally, anyway.
  • Strength training = More Muscle = Greater Fat Burning = Less Fat = Smaller Bum.
  • Getting Older = More Osteoarthritis = Loss of Function and Pain = DO STRENGTH TRAINING EXERCISE!

Enjoy the Journey!

Anthony Collins