Increasing muscle strength, tone and mass through exercise is a common practice. Increasing the length of bones through exercise is typically not the focus of a workout and not commonly expected. However, exercise has many benefits for the bones such as increasing bone density, mass and even the height of your bones when the focus is on the spine. Exercises that incorporate strengthening and stretching of the spine counter the compression of gravity and poor posture and can add to your height and help you to maintain a healthy spine as you age.
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Your spine is the most important part of your skeletal structure and is the central point of the nervous system. Gravity and compression of the spine cause shrinkage that usually becomes prevalent from years of wear and tear, coupled by poor posture and spinal misalignment. Stimulation of the spine through regular full range of motion movement, certain forms of exercise and stretching are essential ways to decrease the compression of the spine and allow the bones, disc and muscles of the spine to stretch in proper alignment.
The Pilates method of body conditioning is an effective way to strengthen, elongate and align the spine. It is also a beneficial way to exercise without causing the compression to the spine that typify other forms of exercise such as running or weightlifting. Pilates is performed on a mat or with equipment. A host of Pilates exercises can promote spinal elongation and height increase. The spine stretch, spine extension, roll up, pelvic tilt, tower and double D Pilates exercises promote spine health.
Many yoga postures support the spine, increasing its length through active and passive stretches and poses. Child’s pose, Downward-Facing Dog, Camel pose, Spinal Twist, Plow pose and Triangle pose are all strong spine stretches. Cobra, Standing Forward Bend and Seated Forward Bend also stretch the whole back. All of these yoga poses help reduce shrinkage and promote growth by creating a flexible, decompressed spine.
Common hanging exercise such as holding on to a bar and hanging with the feet in midair or using inversion tables and boots in which you hang upside down are all excellent ways to lengthen and decompress your spine.