One thing that’s getting faster as I age (no, it’s not my sprinting, and how I wish it was “recovery”), are the growth of my crone* claws. Middle-aged peeps know what I’m talking about here – thickening nails with vertical ridges that need filing every freakin’ week. But even regular filing doesn’t keep me from slashing lanemates (apologies always to those whom I gouge the most: Eric, Chip, Dave) and swimmers one lane over – doesn’t matter – I manage to rake a lot of skin by accident each practice.
Except, after some research, I’ve learned that I can’t blame everything that’s bugging me about my fossilizing nails on my fave scapegoat du jour, menopause. For sure, those ridges are another sign of “aging.” But my nails hyper-growth? Nope.
Turns out quickly-growing nails are the consequence of an improved diet (yay me!), particularly one rich in protein. And it’s not just me that’s working it lately per diet – nail growth rate has been increasing over the decades (who knew?!) Why? More access and affordability to fresh fruits and vegetables, better quality foods, more variety, etc. Just one fun factoid that backs this up: In the ‘50s, the average thumbnail growth rate was 3mm/month. Today, it’s 3.55mm/month.
Another reason given to explain the middle-age nail-growth spike? Older adults see the handwriting on the wall, and thus start to make healthier lifestyles choices. Although, I’m partial to a third study, which claims it’s the “decrease in manual labor as one enters middle age” that’s boosting my nails.
All said, you’d think I’d maximize my nail growth by dashing off to the nearest salon each week to have my nails re-done in a fresh, gorgeous color. But, while I love the look of perfectly polished nails on others (so elegant – I’m looking at you, Suzy Cotton TAG!), I gave up on polishing my nails years ago – two seconds in pool and they chip, chip, chip. And, I’m not into spending hours on applying and drying what seems like 60 layers (ridge filler, color, top coat) to deal with my crone’s claws ridges to achieve the look.
Scientific explanations now in hand, I see the big picture — ridges and speedy nail growth are not complain-worthy, especially when stacked up against other telltale aging signs. Instead, better to focus on staving off attrition in other key areas affected by aging – strength, flexibility, power, agility, balance, etc.
*Right before my surgery, my friends (female, of course!) encouraged me to celebrate imminent cronehood by choosing a crone type to embrace the new phase. I selected “wind crone.”