In a world that often places a premium on height, it’s no surprise that many people are curious about whether they can gain a few extra inches through their lifestyle choices. One such activity that frequently sparks this question is running.
While we all know that running has many health benefits, can it actually make you taller?
Science says no, as the growth plates in fully-grown adults would have closed between the ages of fourteen and twenty. But there are clear ways running can make you seem taller, even if just for a little while. Let’s look at how this is possible, and where the idea that running can make you taller actually stems from.
- Can Running Directly Influence Height?
- Running Can Create An Illusion of Appearing Taller
- What Factors Affect Growth When We Are Younger?
- Common Myths about Running and Height
- The Science Behind Running and Good Posture
- Sorry! Running Won't Make You Taller
Can Running Directly Influence Height?
In short: no.
When talking about height, what exactly are we measuring? Height refers to the overall length of an individual’s skeleton or bone structure. Generally speaking, height is measured from head to toe and is usually determined by genetics.
While many think you continue growing as you age, this is false. Growing stops completely between the ages of fourteen and twenty, as this is when the growth plates completely fuse and cease to grow.
These growth plates in the body are made up of cartilage and are driven by HGH – human growth hormone. Once these plates have closed, there is no additional lengthening of the bone, resulting in a maximum height reached in the late teens.
Running Can Create An Illusion of Appearing Taller
Running has great health benefits, but none that would make you grow taller. From good heart health to a decreased risk of more serious health problems like diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and obesity, running is a great activity to get you off the couch to burn those calories.
Running might not make you taller, but it can help improve posture, which, in turn, can make you seem taller. Before we get into the science behind running and good posture, we’ll see what does make adolescents and teens grow.
What Factors Affect Growth When We Are Younger?
Nutrition, exercise, and hormones play a big role in the height of an individual. Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail as we analyze what makes one person taller than another.
Nutrition plays a large role in your overall health and well-being. With vitamin D, protein, and calcium being among the most important for good bone health, strength, and development, a diet lacking in these will affect an adolescent’s overall growth or height, severely stunting their growth.
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, children and adolescents between the ages of six and seventeen should engage in 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.
Schools encourage this by implementing physical education and extracurricular sporting activities.
Regular exercise has the following benefits for children and teenagers:
- Builds strong bones and muscles that aid growth
- Improves cardiorespiratory health and reduces the risk of heart disease
- Reduce anxiety and stress levels
- Reduce the risk of obesity and maintain a healthy body weight
Hormones like HGH, the Human Growth Hormone, are at their peak in adolescence, with levels dropping in the mid to late teens. These hormones are ultimately responsible for growth and aid in developing bones and muscles that make children taller and stronger.
Common Myths about Running and Height
The internet is a hive of information about how good running can be for your health, but it is also a cesspool of misinformation and twisting of the truth. A quick search of the question “Can running make you taller?” will lead you to thousands of articles on the subject.
While some say yes, it can and then list a few plausible reasons; others will deny it and back up facts with scientific evidence. But, with all the different opinions, which do you believe, and which are nothing more than the mutterings of those who know nothing about the subject?
Here are just a few of the misconceptions or myths we have encountered when looking for any information that might make us say, “Yes, running does, in fact, make you taller.”
Myth #1: Running Makes Everyone Taller
As we’ve explained, running won’t make you magically grow a few centimeters. While good posture and muscle tone might make you seem taller, there’s no change to the body’s skeletal structure.
You do not get taller from running.
However, the same cannot be said for adolescents. Regular exercise – like running – can help build muscle and bone, improving their growth rate. This means they may grow taller than they would have if they didn’t run.
Myth #2: Running Elongates the Spine
This myth is definitely not true. Pounding your feet on the sidewalk, grass, or trail is more likely to cause temporary spine compression while running.
Spinal compression is not a large cause for concern and is the body’s way of adapting to the activity you are putting it through. Running does not, and never will, elongate the spine.
Myth #3: What You Eat Will Affect Your Height
We aren’t knocking the effects of a healthy diet full of vitamins D, protein, and calcium, but we can safely say that these will not, in any way, make you grow taller as an adult. A poor diet can make you shorter, but a good diet doesn’t make you taller.
Children require a healthy diet consisting of these and other nutrients to ensure good bone growth and development. Intake of these nutrients after age twenty helps reduce the risk of bone problems like osteoporosis but will not help you increase your height.
So what does it come down to, then? If all these things won’t make you grow taller, what will?
The answer is an easy one: Posture.
The Science Behind Running and Good Posture
Want to feel taller? Work on your posture! Any good doctor will tell you that posture is more than just about how you stand and affects your body more than you know.
Posture is everything, and good posture can lead to increased energy, reduced back pain, and a boost in confidence that will see you standing tall (you see where we’re going with this?).
Running is great for your posture as it improves muscle tone. Maintaining good posture while running engages your core muscles, helps extend and straighten the spine, and pulls in the stomach while extending the chest. This move alone will instantly make you feel taller.
Posture, posture, posture. It all comes down to posture.
Of course, running is only likely to have a positive effect on your posture if you use the correct running form.
Sorry! Running Won’t Make You Taller
Running, or any other physical activity, is not everyone’s idea of fun, but it certainly benefits your mental and physical well-being. What it does not, however, do is make you grow taller.
Try as you might, there is absolutely nothing that you can do to increase your height or boost growth by exercising.
Armed with this knowledge, it’s clear that running can and will benefit you, no matter your age, and that there are many more benefits to enjoy – even if height isn’t included in the upsides. So, grab a comfortable pair of running shoes, get your behind off the couch, and get out into the world and go for a run today.