Many people are not satisfied with their height.
Can we do anything about it?
This question is frequently asked by the parents of a few children or adults who seem dissatisfied with their height.
What Determines A Person’s Height?
Environmental factors like nutrition affect height by 20%-40%(3).
Improved nutrition can be a cause that can affect the height of people in many countries. But in many people even after taking a healthy diet, height does not increase after the age of 18 years.
What Affects Height Growth?
The growth plates or the epiphyseal plates are the main reason the height stops growing. If the growth plates are active the bone lengthens and the height increases.
The hormonal change which occurs at the end of puberty causes the growth plates to harden which stops the lengthening of the bones(6). The growth plates close around the age of 16 in women and 14-19 in men(7).
Sometimes there is a daily variation in the height, which may be due to the compression of the disc in the spine(8). Daily activities may impact the cartilage and fluid in the spine and reduce the height as the day progress that maybe half an inch i.e. 1.5 cm in a day(9, 10, 11).
Can You Control How Tall You Can Be?
Height is largely determined by genetics.
However, proper nutrition during childhood and adulthood can help attain a proper height.
For those who are not satisfied with their height simple techniques such as good posture, wearing heels or muscle gain can help.
Controlling how tall you can be is not possible, but yes you can help yourself attain a good height by bringing about an improvement in the lifestyle.
Can Exercise And Stretching Increase Height
There are various myths about increasing height that include:
- Exercises and stretching techniques can increase the height
- Activities such as hanging, climbing, or using an inversion table can increase height.
The height varies in the day according to the compression and decompression of the cartilage disc of the spine. Due to this some of the activities may increase the height to a small extent during the day(12). These changes are not real and are quickly reversed(13).
Does Weight Training Exercise Decrease Height
Most people think that exercise especially weight lifting ones can be detrimental to height, specifically to children and adolescents whose growth plates haven’t closed.
Weight training, if properly supervised can be safe and beneficial at any age.
Studies show that weight training before adulthood does not decrease growth(14). Therefore, it need not be avoided in children and adolescents.
A study was conducted in which sport medicine experts were asked if weight lifting should be avoided as a person’s growth plates close. 85% answered that it was not necessary and only 10% said it is best to avoid it(15).
Weight-training leads to minor compression of the spinal disc in adults that is reversible. This can also occur during normal daily activities.
If there is an injury like a herniated disc the size and health of the spine are affected that can decrease the height.
Have A Healthy Lifestyle To Reach Your Height Potential
To maximize the height potential in the teenage years, make sure you are not low on your vitamin and mineral count.
Most of the time even in the children who eat enough, the diet quality is poor(16). This leads to a deficiency of important nutrients like vitamin D and calcium, nutrients that are very important for bone growth and overall health(17, 18).
Another way to combat nutritional deficiencies is to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables(19).
Protein is also essential for bone health. It is beneficial for the bone density of the spine(20). Good sources of protein are eggs, poultry, lean meat, and dairy.
Proper nutrition during childhood can help reach a good height and this does not vary in men and women.
Lifestyle factors during childhood, do affect height but a person’s height mostly depends on genetics.
Medical Conditions That Lead To An Increase In Height
Mostly it is seen that the height stops increasing after the age of 18-20, with an exception in a few.
Delay in the closure of the growth plates can be a reason in some individuals(21).
Gigantism is a condition in which there is excessive growth of height. It is due to excessive production of growth hormone(22). The height continues to grow in these individuals until the growth plate closes which maybe around 22 years of age.
These conditions can lead to an increase in height until the growth plate close.
What To Do If You Are Not Satisfied With Your Height
If you are someone who is not satisfied with your height, there are a few things which can be tried:
- Good Posture: A poor posture can make anyone look less in height.
- Heels and Inserts: Shoes with heels can add a few inches to your height. You can also place inserts in your flat shoes to solve the purpose.
- Muscle Gain: If you are amongst those who feel small in general, you can try weight training to gain muscle. This might make you look more muscular and confident.
There are also several procedures that involve lengthening of bones of the lower leg(24). Due to the invasive and expensive nature of these procedures they are less chosen.
Treatment with growth hormone can benefit children but have no effect on adults(25).
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