Some people have one wish when they look in the mirror; grow taller. This may seem irrelevant to most people, but height is a big deal for some. It is generally accepted that your height is one aspect of your body that you have zero control over. Yes, you can make yourself look taller, but you cannot increase your height. But can stretching make you taller? Find out in this read, including the stretches that make you appear taller.
Can You Increase Your Height?
Before we delve into this, it is crucial to understand a few things about height. First and foremost, evidence shows that most individuals gain about 2 inches in height every year between age 1 and puberty (1).
Once you reach puberty, you gain 4 inches in height per year. Research shows that we have our growth spurt in the teenage years.
Boys experience this sudden growth spurt at the end of their teenage years. Medical News Today reveals that most females reach their full adult height between the ages of 14 and 15, while males reach their full height by 16 (2).
Lastly, it is essential to note that height is influenced by a range of factors, including:
Genetics highly influence your height. So, if your parents are tall, it is more likely that you will also be tall. But, conversely, if your parents are short, it is much more likely that your height will be similar to theirs.
According to Medical News Today, sex determines your height in that women have a lower total height potential than men (2).
Nutrition also impacts your height potential. You will likely be tall if you consume the essential vitamins and minerals that are necessary for growth. So, getting good nutrition is crucial for increasing your height potential.
Specific Medical Conditions
Several medical conditions also play a role in determining your height. These include gigantism, untreated celiac disease, cancer, dwarfism, arthritis, Down syndrome, Marfan syndrome, and Turner syndrome (2). In addition, conditions that require the prolonged use of steroids may also impact your height potential.
Exercise And Physical Activity
Physical activity also determines childhood growth and height. Research shows that being active makes your body produce growth hormones. When produced, a child’s body that has bones with open growth plates experiences more growth than those who are physically inactive (2).
However, once the growth plates in the bones close, an individual will not grow any taller (2). So, if you need to lengthen your spine permanently, you need to perform stretches to get taller fast and before you reach adulthood. But, again, it would be best to consult your doctor for better advice and guidance.
Read More: Benefits Of Stretching Before Bed
Do You Lose Height In Adulthood?
You may notice that some people look taller in their twenties than in their forties. Yes, some individuals lose their height as they age due to their diet and conditions such as osteoporosis (4).
According to Medical News Today, an individual may lose up to half an inch of height after their 40th birthday (2). Luckily, research shows several interventions can help prevent loss of height after 40. They include (2):
- Drinking enough water and staying hydrated.
- Getting plenty of rest.
- Avoid smoking cigarettes.
- Eating a nutritious and balanced meal, including one rich in calcium.
- Doing weight-lifting exercises to prevent muscle loss.
How Can I Increase My Height?
There is nothing you can do about increasing your height once the growth plates in the bones have closed. However, evidence shows that there are ways you could look taller. They include:
Maintaining A Good Posture
Maintaining good posture may make you look taller because it keeps the proper space between the vertebrae. So, experts suggest practicing a good sitting posture by doing the following (2):
- Pressing the feet flat on the floor while sitting
- Supporting the back using a folded towel or small pillow
- Adjusting the chair height so the thighs stay parallel to the floor
- Avoid crossing your legs
- Comfortably rest and relax your shoulders
Besides making you appear taller, maintaining a good posture also relieves headaches and backache often associated with slouching (2).
Medical News Today reveals that a strong midsection can also help you maintain a good posture and look taller. Conversely, when your core muscles are weak, the spine lacks proper support and may get compressed, forcing you to slouch.
That said, it would help if you targeted your mid-section by performing core strengthening muscles. Fitness gurus recommend performing exercises such as the plank, abdominal crunch, and superman exercise (2).
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Can Stretching Make You Taller?
Exercising when you have open growth plates in your bones can increase your height, as discussed above. However, we have also seen that the best exercises to help increase your height are weight-lifting or strength-lifting exercises.
This begs the question of whether stretching exercises can help increase your height. From a strictly scientific standpoint, stretches cannot make you taller. Instead, they stretch, elongate, relax your muscles and which can make you appear taller.
Evidence also shows that stretching exercises have no association with your change in height (4). This means that stretching cannot make you taller, but it can elongate your body and make you look taller.
Stretches To Get Taller
Before we delve into these stretches, let us remind you that you cannot increase your physical height past adulthood. Regardless of how convincing a height increasing exercise may sound, the truth is that they won’t increase your height but may make you look taller. Here are some stretches that can help you appear taller:
The Cobra Stretch
The Cobra stretch stretches your lower back, stomach, and upper back muscles. To perform it (6):
- Lie on the floor and on your stomach. Place your palms on the floor and directly underneath your shoulders. Bend your elbows straight back and hug them into your sides.
- Hold this position for a minute while looking straight at the ground and maintaining your neck in a neutral position. Anchor your pubic bone to the floor.
- Breathe in to lift your chest off the floor. Roll your shoulders back but keep your low ribs on the floor. Make sure your elbows are still hugging your sides without opening to either side.
Key Pointers: Keep your neck neutral throughout the movement, and do not crane it up. Additionally, be sure to gaze at the floor.
Toe lifts are another stretching exercise that may indirectly increase your height. They are believed to do so by targeting your feet muscles. Contracting and expanding these muscles when performing the lifts alternatively makes calves and shins simultaneously stretch.
You may experience a burning sensation during the lifts and holds, but that shows they are effective. Here is a step by step guide on how to perform these lifts:
- Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Relax your shoulders, gaze forward, and keep your back straight.
- Raise your arms above your head, then slowly lift your heels off the floor.
- Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds, then release and return to the starting position.
- Lift your toes off the floor and hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Drop your feet to the ground, and repeat the lifts in slow and controlled movements.
The Downward Facing Dog
The downward-facing dog is a yoga stretch that stretches your quadricep muscles. These muscles are located at the back of your thighs, and their flexibility determines how toned your legs are. Toned legs are significant in determining your height because they elongate your lower body and show you taller than you are. Here is how you perform this stretch (6):
- Start on the floor with your hands positioned at a shoulder-width distance and above your wrists. Be sure to align your inner shoulders with your index fingers and hips above or slightly before your knees.
- Tuck your toes against the ground, then use that leverage to stretch your legs and lift both knees into the air. Your body will form an upside-down “V” shape.
- Next, stretch and lengthen your spine while pressing through the palms of your hands and balls of your feet. Draw your shoulder blades down your back, rotate the joints, or pull your pelvis up toward the ceiling to help stabilize your form.
- Hold this position for a few minutes while breathing normally. Slowly bring your knees back to the floor to release or transition into another pose.
Pilates Roll Over
These rollovers are other stretches to consider for an increased height. They can help make you look taller by stretching your spine and adding length to your upper body. This can also make you appear taller because it stretches and lengthens the neck’s vertebrae. Here is a guide on how to perform this exercise (3):
- Start by lying on your back with your arms by your sides and palms facing down.
- Keep your legs together, then stretch them straight up towards the ceiling and bend them back so that they touch the floor.
- You may not be able to touch the floor in the first or two stretches, and that is okay. Just keep practicing, and it will get easier and more attainable.
- Hold the stretch for a few seconds, then release and switch sides. The more you stretch using this move, the more your spine lengthens.
The Forward Spine Stretch
Next on this list of the best stretches to get taller is the forward spine stretch. It makes you appear taller by stretching your upper and lower body simultaneously. When you assume a seated position to perform this move, you straighten your legs to the front, which then stretches your quads and calf muscles.
Similarly, when you lean forward to touch your toes with your palms, you stretch your back muscles while still in the seated position. This means, you lengthen and elongate your entire body. Here is how you perform the forward spine stretch (5):
- Start by sitting on a mat with your legs fully stretched in front. Position them about shoulder-width apart and flex your feet. Similarly, keep your back straight and gaze forward.
- Breathe in and stretch your arms in front of you without locking your elbows.
- After that, slowly bend forward and try to touch the tips of your toes.
- Pause in this position for a few seconds, then release to return to the starting position.
Key Pointers: You may not be able to touch your toes, which is okay. In this case, experts suggest bending only to your point of discomfort.
- Lie on the mat and position your shoulders flat on the floor. Stretch out your arms on the sides and place your palms down.
- Bend your knees and draw your feet close to the butt.
- Arch your back to tilt your pelvis.
- Tuck the bum and use your legs and shoulders for support.
- Breathe deeply and normally and hold the position for 30 seconds.
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Alternate Leg Kicks
Alternate leg kicks are often compared to the Korean martial art Tae Kwon Do. This is because it is characterized by leg kicks that are considered excellent defensive moves. Evidence shows that the leg kicks can help you appear taller because they extend your leg muscles. Here is a detailed step-by-step guide on how to perform these leg kicks (3):
- Start in a standing position on a flat and smooth surface like a yoga mat. Keep your back straight and your arms by your sides.
- Slowly stretch your right leg up to the point of discomfort. Meanwhile, keep your hands close to your chest with your fists tight.
- Breathe deeply and start kicking the air for roughly half a minute before assuming the standing position.
- Repeat with your left leg.
It can help make you look taller by improving flexibility in your back. When doing the move, you extend the hip flexors that, in turn, elongate your lower back and the back of your thighs. Here is how you perform it (5):
- Lie on your back and position your arms by your side with the palms facing down.
- Bend your knees and position your feet at least hip-width apart.
- Slowly lift your knees and hips to the point where your body is parallel to the floor. Make sure that you are only stretching your back. Be sure to lift only your hips and not your lower back.
- Hold at the top of the movement for 30 to 60 seconds, then release. Rest a few inches above the ground and repeat.
- Perform at least 10 to 12 reps.
Key Pointers: For added benefits to your bum, clench your glutes at the top of the movement. Similarly, be sure to breathe normally.
Bird Dog Pose
The bird dog yoga pose is another excellent addition to your workout plan to help you look taller. This pose elongates your back and leg muscles, giving you a taller look. Here is how you perform the exercise:
- Start on your fours with your arms directly under your shoulders, knees beneath your hips. Similarly, keep your knees hip-width apart, hands shoulder-width apart and firmly pressed on the floor. You can kneel on a yoga mat or a cushioned surface to avoid hurting your knees.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles (core), then stretch one arm straight forward and the opposite leg up and straight behind you. Make sure that they form a straight line with your hip squared to the ground. If your lower back starts to sag, raise your leg as high as possible while maintaining a straight back.
- Hold this move for a few seconds, then return to your hands and knees to the floor. Remember to engage your abs, even as you lower the arm and leg.
- Switch sides and repeat.
Side Bends (With Or Without Dumbbells)
Side bends are among the most recommended exercises for sculpting your waistline. They target your obliques and help eliminate muffin tops, also known as love handles. In addition to that, the bends strengthen your side abs and tighten your core.
Recent evidence also shows that they can help you look taller by improving your posture. When you do this bend, your entire torso opens up, encouraging you to maintain a straight posture. As a result, you look taller when you stand upright and taller. So, here is how you perform this exercise (6):
- Start in a standing position with a straight back and feet firmly pressed to the floor.
- Lift your left arm toward the ceiling and bend your body sideways towards the right. You can rest the right arm on the hip or let it hang by your side. Be sure to stretch over as far as possible without experiencing any pain or discomfort.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds before returning to the standing position.
- Repeat on the other side.
The Bottom Line
Although most people may not know it, height is one of the inner battles some people deal with. These people tend to be insecure about being short and often search for how to be tall. One of the frequently asked questions on height is; can stretching make you taller? Scientific evidence shows that stretching cannot increase your height. But what it can do is it can elongate and relax your muscles. When your muscles are elongated, your body appears taller. Some stretches to consider to help you look taller include toe lifts, the cobra stretch, bird dog, downward-facing dog, side bends, alternate kicks, and the glute bridge. Be sure to check in with your doctor and fitness instructor before changing your workout plan.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Adult height after long term treatment with recombinant growth hormone for idiopathic isolated growth hormone deficiency: observational follow up study of the French population based registry (2002, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Can adults grow taller? (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Exercises and stretches for hip pain (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Height gain at adult-height age in 184 short patients treated with growth hormone from prepubertal age to near adult-height age is not related to GH secretory status at GH therapy onset (2013, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Stretches for tight hips: Tips and how to do them (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Stretches to Help You Get Loose (2021, webmd.com)