There are no exercises that make you taller, but you can improve your posture. Standing with proper posture can make you appear taller and leaner. Bad posture, on the other hand, can make you look shorter and cause muscular imbalances.
Growth Through Adolescence
From birth, the human body begins a lengthy growth process. Over time, your body grows from a tiny form to your adult shape. Your bones lengthen throughout your teenage years until you reach your full height.
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The U.S. National Library of Medicine explains that boys typically hit a growth spurt around age 13 and a half. Girls hit their peak growth around age 11 and a half. After that time, growth gradually slows to a halt and people reach their maximum height.
Growth plates, also called epiphyseal plates, are responsible for the lengthening of bones, explains the National Cancer Institute. These structures can be found at the ends of your bones where they lay down layers of cartilage that calcify and harden over time.
When this gradual process ends, you stop getting taller. The epiphyseal plates harden, and your bones don't increase in length any further. However, they can still grow in thickness and diameter, making them more resilient.
Read more: What Is the Average Adult Male Height and Weight?
Growth Hormone for Adults
Growth hormone (GH) is one of the main contributors to the growth process. It doesn't actually make your bones grow, though. Instead, it tells your liver to release insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hormone responsible for making your bones and muscles grow.
Growth hormone deficiency in adolescents may result in stunted growth. However, supplementing with artificial growth hormone can fix this problem. According to Harvard Health Publishing, adults who have little of this hormone tend to have weaker bones or muscles. Supplementing with extra amounts of GH, prescribed from your doctor, may fix those problems, but it won't help you grow taller.
Heavy lifting may increase growth hormone levels, states the American Council on Exercise. However, there are no workouts that make you taller. The increase in growth hormone from training can help your body repair bones and muscles, boost immune function and improve body composition.
Exercise Doesn't Stunt Growth
A common rumor surrounding exercise is that kids who work out will have stunted growth. This isn't true, according to a March-April 2019 review published in the Journal of Pediatrics. As the researchers note, exercise is safe for both pregnant people and young people throughout childhood and adolescence.
Scientists explain that exercise doesn't seem to interfere with growth in children. In fact, it helps them develop healthy bones and muscles as they age. Children will probably be better off if they exercise, so parents shouldn't be concerned about stunted growth if their children start a workout routine at a young age.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons agrees that exercise helps teenagers grow normally and maintain a healthy weight. When children have obesity, the extra weight places stress on their bones, wearing down the growth plates at the ends of bones and potentially stunting growth.
Maintain Proper Posture
Standing or sitting with a slouched posture can make you appear shorter. If your head tilts forward and your shoulders slump, then you have poor posture. Luckily, there are ways to fix it. When you can stand or sit more upright, you'll appear taller.
The Cleveland Clinic explains that improving your posture can also take the pressure off your joints and ligaments. They recommend sitting with your back flat against the back of your chair and your feet flat on the ground. You should also have three curves in your spine while sitting: one at the neck, another through the upper back and a third through the lower back.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine recommends standing tall, with your shoulders back. Keep the weight on the balls of your feet. Your head should be level with the ground and your arms should hang by your sides. Position your feet shoulder-width apart.
Read more: Calories, Weight and Height According to Age
Exercises That Make You Taller
If you're having trouble finding or maintaining proper posture, you can try some exercises that make you appear taller. With practice, you will be able to stand or sit more upright.
Move 1: Cobra
According to the AARP, this popular yoga pose strengthens the erector spinae. These long muscles run down your spine and help keep your body upright. Strengthening them may improve your posture.
- Lie on the ground on your stomach, with your legs out straight.
- Place your hands under your shoulders.
- Lift your head and chest off the floor by using your back muscles.
- Hold for 15 seconds at the top.
- Relax and return to the floor.
- Complete 10 repetitions for three sets.
Move 2: Shoulder Blade Clock
Aurora Health Care has a list of postural exercises to help you stay upright. This one focuses on moving the shoulders in a full circle. It may help strengthen the muscles around your shoulders and teach you where to hold your shoulders for proper posture.
- Start standing or sitting tall.
- Imagine that the sides of your shoulders have clocks on them.
- Move your shoulders up and forward to the 2 o'clock position.
straight back to the 11 o'clock position.
down to the 7 o'clock position.
- Your shoulders are now in position for proper posture.
- Slowly complete eight reps. Do three sets total.
Move 3: Corner Stretch
Strengthening your muscles may help improve posture, but stretching them is just as important. If your shoulders are slumped forward, then your pectoralis major — the primary chest muscle — is probably also tight. This simple exercise from Kaiser Permanente will stretch tight chest muscles. All you need is an open corner.
- Find a corner and stand facing the walls.
- Step forward into the corner with one foot.
- Raise your arms with your elbows bent so that your forearms are pressed into the wall.
- Lean into the corner, keeping your arms in place. Maintain a tall posture.
- Keep pressing forward until you feel a stretch in your chest.
- Hold for 10 to 30 seconds; then relax and repeat.
- You can move your arms higher or lower to change the stretch.
- Repeat the stretch two to three times. Do this once per day.
- Kaiser Permanente: "Postural Exercises"
- Aurora Healthcare: "Posture Exercise Program"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Guide to Good Posture"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Back Health and Posture"
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "The Impact of Childhood Obesity on Bone, Joint, and Muscle Health"
- Journal of Pediatrics: "Effects of Physical Activity on Children's Growth."
- American Council on Exercise: "Exercise and Hormones: 8 Hormones Involved in Exercise"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Growth Hormone, Athletic Performance, and Aging"
- National Cancer Institute: "Bone Development & Growth"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Adolescent Development"
- AARP: "How to Improve Your Posture"
- Better Health Channel: "Growth Hormone"