There’s a fair amount of confusion and resultant questions that are commonly asked about stretching, such as whether it is better to stretch before or after you work out, but another surprisingly popular question is: “Does stretching make you taller?”
After all, when we stretch, we physically feel and are often instructed that we are “lengthening“ our muscles, and modalities of exercise such as Pilates that involve some amount of stretching are often touted to make you look taller, longer, or leaner.
So, can stretching make you taller? What are the best stretches to get taller? Will doing stretches that can make you taller help adults get taller even though the adult body is already fully grown, or does stretching for height increases only make kids taller?
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of stretching, focusing specifically on answering the question: “Does stretching make you taller?”
We will discuss:
- Does Stretching Make You Taller?
- How Does Stretching Make You Taller?
- What Stretches Make You Taller?
Let’s get started!
Does Stretching Make You Taller?
A surprising number of people are under the impression that stretching can make you taller or that there is a certain subset of stretches that can make you taller.
However, in the interest of quickly answering the question: “Can stretching make you taller?“ the short answer is no.
If people tell you that there are stretches to get taller that actually work, they have some misconception about how stretching works.
There are no “magic” stretches to get taller, and even as a consistent and general practice, stretching to get taller is unfortunately ineffective.Stretching does not make you grow taller, especially if you are already a full-grown adult who has completed puberty.
Even if you try to follow the “best stretching routine to get taller“ or the “best stretches for height,“ after you are fully grown, no amount of stretching and no particular types of stretches for height will have any bearing on your height once you are fully grown.
We reach our full stature or adult height upon the completion of puberty, which typically occurs by age 18-19 for young women and 21 for young men.
Our height is primarily determined by the length of the long bones in the lower body and the vertebral height.
Bones grow in length via growth plates at the end of the long bones. These growth plates are open from the time we are born through childhood and adolescence until the end of puberty.
Once the growth plates close at the end of puberty, skeletal growth ceases.
At this point, you have reached your maximum adult height, meaning that you are the tallest you will ever be, no matter how much stretching you do to try and grow taller.
Therefore, provided you’re past the age of finishing puberty, stretching with the goal of performing stretches to get taller will not work (though there are other benefits of stretching!).
The height that you reach in adulthood is largely determined by your genetics.
This means that the factor that has the most significant bearing on your adult height is your genetics, primarily the height of your biological parents.
There are other factors that also play into growth during childhood and adolescence that ultimately can affect how tall you become as an adult, particularly regarding your nutritional intake during childhood and puberty.
For example, you may not reach your potential maximum adult height if you face malnutrition, inadequate caloric intake, low protein intake, and insufficient calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and magnesium anywhere from infancy through to the end of puberty.
Eating disorders and absorption disorders such as undiagnosed celiac disease and/or long-teen chronic illnesses can also compromise your weight gain during your growing years and potentially stunt your growth and adult height.
How Does Stretching Make You Taller?
There is a general lack of scientific evidence that conclusively demonstrates some of the touted benefits of stretching, and certainly a dearth of research studies that have found anything about stretching making you taller.
However, when stretching exercises are incorporated into a well-rounded fitness routine, there can be plenty of benefits of stretching for your overall health and physique.
Therefore, although it’s a myth that stretching can make you taller or that types of exercise like yoga and pilates can “lengthen your body,” these misconceptions are perpetuated by the fact that certain stretches can improve your posture, which in turn, can make you appear taller.
Additionally, stretching consistently improves your musculoskeletal health and flexibility.
If you add stretching to a well-rounded fitness routine and focus on improving your core strength and posture, over time, stretching may help prevent age-related degenerative conditions (such as osteoporosis or kyphosis) that might otherwise lead to a loss of height.
The best we can really do in terms of looking at the benefits of stretching on helping you appear taller is to look at the benefits of yoga and Pilates—exercise disciplines that have some elements of stretching and flexibility in them—and then extrapolate that there may be some carryover to the health benefits of stretching itself.
Based on research findings about yoga benefits, here are some of the ways that stretching may help you appear taller and support preserving your height:
- Improving your posture which maximizes your height because you can stand taller without slouching.
- Improving core strength so that you can maintain a good erect posture to maximize your height.
- Improving the health of your intervertebral discs between the vertebrae of your spine, which in turn can help preserve your adult height.
- Helping prevent osteoporosis by supporting bone density when stretches are done in the weight-bearing position, and osteoporosis is associated with a loss of height.
- Supporting a healthy body weight which can help you appear taller because you are more slender.
- Increasing confidence which may help you stand taller and have a larger presence.
So, while stretching does not make you taller, incorporating stretching and flexibility practices like yoga into a well-rounded fitness routine can have far-reaching effects on your physical and mental health.
These health benefits can help you maintain your height and support good posture, core strength, and bone health.
What Stretches Make You Taller?
We again state the disclaimer that stretching does not make you taller, and there aren’t any special stretches to get taller that actually have any significant bearing on your height if you are fully grown.
However, here are some of the stretches that are particularly beneficial for posture and, therefore might be considered the “best stretches to get taller” or “stretches that can make you taller”:
- Downward dog (yoga pose for the entire posterior chain, back, and shoulders)
- Standing forward fold to stretch your hamstrings and lower back
- Cat-cow to stretch and mobilize your spine
- Child’s pose to stretch or “lengthen” the spine
- Overhead reach to stretch the upper body
- Neck, chest, and upper back stretches for the postural muscles
- Tree pose to practice good posture
Some people also find that back stretchers or massagers can help decompress the intervertebral disc and give you some added height as well as relief from back pain and stiffness.
We recommend the Baloom Back Stretching Massager for back pain and stiffness or to offer the benefits of an inversion table in a cheaper and safer way. It even heats up as you stretch your back, neck, and hips, helping aid circulation, flexibility, and mobility to the entire spine.
It is also important to note that, like any form of exercise, you will find the most benefits of stretching if you stretch on a consistent basis.
Occasionally, doing a couple of stretches is unlikely to be very effective in any regard, let alone helping you feel taller after stretching.
It is generally recommended that you do 2 to 3 flexibility workouts per week. This can include stretching, yoga, tai chi, Pilates, etc.
You can also stretch before and after workouts; try dynamic stretches before exercise and static stretches after your workout is over.
Learn about dynamic stretching and the best dynamic stretches for runners here.
Furthermore, keep in mind that while there are many benefits of stretching, stretching alone in the absence of getting other forms of exercise (mainly aerobic exercise and resistance training) will not be enough to support overall health and even some of the aforementioned benefits of stretching/yoga for height.
Finally, studies have shown that stretching can help to reduce levels of cortisol, which is the primary stress hormone, so even though you won’t physically grow taller by stretching, you may feel more relaxed and ready to conquer the world.
Learn more about yoga for athletes here.