I think this is one of those posts that has been something that was always supposed to be written but the idea was always overlooked due to the fact that the simple idea of stretching would lead to some height increase.
So can stretching help someone grow taller? The simple answer is yes.
However the hard question is actually “How should I stretch to get the height increase that I desire?”
Most people who find the website or email me will often ask for around 3-5 inches of extra height increase. Now that is a considerable amount of change in the body. Going from a guy or girl who was originally 5′ 9′ and making them 6′ 0″ or even 6′ 2″ is something that is very hard to believe. But can it be done? The question becomes…
Is there some type of exercise routine that would lead a person to gain 3 – 5 extra inches of height? The simple answer is probably not.
However getting around 1-2 inches of extra height is reasonable and possible but only for a small percentage of the population. Most people won’t get even 1 inch of extra permanent height, much less 2 or 3 inches. 1 inch is totally reasonable and possible. 2 inches is really, REALLY improbable but I have found cases of people who did get 2 extra inches of height increase, but most of the time, that 2 inches was not permanent and the height would eventually shrink back down to just 1 full inch of permanent change.
Now, let’s stop the talking and see which exercises would be helpful in getting that 1-2 extra inches.
From high school biology, we know that the human body has it’s overall frame/structure determined by a substance known as bone which is what holds the human body up. Without the bones, but especially the long bones which stand vertically up, the body would just be a glop of organs and skin on the ground. Bones are critical in keeping the vital organs safe as well.
From the Wikipedia article on Bone,for most people, when they are born they have over 270 individual bones, but after they reach adulthood, many of the separate bones they had when born have fused together to leave 206 medically defined bones.
From the picture of the skeleton to the left, for our purposes we would like to gain height from stretching.
However, we know that in stretching, we are only stretching our muscles, ligaments, which are other types of tissue in the human body. Muscle and ligament tissue is far more flexible, elastic, than bone.
Stretching muscle means we are working & exercising our muscle, but are we working on stretching our bones as well when we stretch? No, we are not.
This means that in the human body, when we decide to do “stretches” we are not going to affect the bone shape or curvature of a physically mature and developed adult person. The way that bones are aligned, connected, or shaped will not change from stretching, since stretching only affects tissues that are more elastic.
However if we look at what types of tissue will determine the overall height of people, we see that the bones we have in our body are going to determine about 97% of all the height in our body. This means that only around 3% of all the height in the human’s body can be changed through stretching exercises.
Side Note: If you are curious at how I was able to come up with the idea that the bones will determine around 97% of ones height, I refer the reader back to an article on the height increase changes seen in astronauts, which saw their height increase by around average 3% while living in a weightless environment without the downward force of gravity. From GeekSystem.com article “Ultrasound Tests May Help Figure Out Why Astronauts Grow Taller While In Space”
So let’s look at the types of tissues..
1. Stretching won’t change the bone so let’s forget about trying to increase our overall height by more than 3% of what we are at right now.
Example: This means that a person who is 5′ 6″, or 66 inches should not expect more than 66*(0.03) = 1.98 inches ~ 2 inches in possible increase, using at least simple stretching methods.
2. Due to the elastic nature of the muscles, which can contract and extend out, stretching will extend the muscles, but that means that once the amount of tensile force exerted to pull the muscles are apart are removed, the muscle tissue will just retract back to a smaller, form.
3. The ligaments. – These will be connecting to the bone to other types of tissues or to each other.
4. The skin like the muscle can be stretched out but then like the muscle, it will just fold back into it’s un-stretched form.
5. Everything else like blood vessels, small glands,
Our height is the sum of….
- Our skull size
- Our backbones/vertebrate structure
- Our hip bones, which includes the labels of hip bones parts to the right.
- Our femur
- The small bones in our feet
- The hind feet bone or Calcaneus
So if we wanted to increase vertically, we can try to manipulate and elongate any of these bones in the vertical direction. However since this post is about stretching, the exercise will not deform or bend any of these bones in the way that we want.
So we have to ask , besides the hard bones that make up our height, what other types of tissue are there?
The main other tissues is cartilage and fibrous tissues
- We have the intervertebral disks
- The cartilage in the ends of our bones
- Some space in our synovial joints which is filled with intercellular fluid
- Some ligaments connecting the bones.
Since the ligaments connecting to bone have almost no thickness, we can’t focus on those ligaments.
As for the intercellular fluid space in our synovial joints, specifically the knees, we might be able to increase the volume up a little as well as the pressure in the space, but we are talking about liquid space being able to overcome the gravitational force of our body above the knees pushing down on it.
As for our cartilage, we might be able to do something with our cartilage using stem cells therapy through implants, but that is not stretching. We can’t stretch to get thicker cartilage at the end of our bones.
This only leaves the intervertebral disks left. They are the only things we seem to really be able to manipulate for increased height. The disks are not made of cartilage but of a fibrous tissue which at this point I am not sure are the components.
Recently I had talked about the idea of whether doing back bridging stretching exercises will lead to height increase in the post “Increase Height And Grow Taller Using Back Bridging Exercises To Stretch The Torso And Vertebrate” and I had personally concluded that stretching in that bend direction will not lead to height increase. Tyler seems to agree with me on that point. I could be wrong about this conclusion and it may be possible with a small minority of people to get body elongation benefits from stretching in the arched back positon, but I would suspect that stretching in that way will not lead to height increase for most people, but might contribute to disk compression and decreased height.
This leaves only possibly 3 main stretching exercises which could lead to any height increase.
1. Bend down forward while sitting on your butt and stretching your back out (with your head down) trying to puff out your torso like a cobra. See pic below.
2. Twisting your upper torso side to side while keeping the hips still to get the disks to be more flexible and elastic.
3. Putting your arms up high, close together, pull up, and lean to one side stretching one side , and then alternating to the other side.