Sadly, while stretching will not technically make you grow -- at least not permanently -- it can loosen tight muscles and ligaments and improve posture. This can make you reach your full potential to appear and feel taller. The effects of less gravity and hanging upside down can add even more height temporarily.
The typical person stops growing taller at around age 20. Past that, while you can grow wider, you can’t grow taller. Unfortunately, no amount of stretching can change that fact. Your joints, including the thick cushions in your spine called intervertebral discs, are full of water. Throughout the day, gravity takes its toll, compressing your spinal discs. Getting a good night’s rest and drinking plenty of water will have you waking up slightly taller, because while you sleep your discs pull in the water they lost.
Astronauts in space have been known to increase in height by up to 3 percent, according to ScienceDaily.com. Technically it isn’t really growth because they return to regular height once they come back to Earth. Scientists aren't really sure why it happens, but they're focusing their studies on the astronauts’ spines with ultrasound technology. When less gravitational pressure is put on the intervertebral discs, they swell up a little bit, like a sponge. The result: a slightly taller person, at least until Earth’s gravity takes over.
Founded in the 1990s by a former gymnast, antigravity yoga combines the meditative and physical health benefits of yoga with inversion. Think regular yoga, tree-monkey style. Antigravity yoga uses hammocks that let you hang 3 inches off the ground. Hanging upside down allows gravity and your body weight to stretch the ligaments and discs of the spine. People who do it claim that when a class is over they have reached their maximum height — from 1/4 inch to 1 1/2 inches taller — but the effects are not permanent.
Toe touches loosen the hamstrings, which are attached to your pelvis. If they're too tight, they can cause low back aches and tightness, which can prevent you from being your tallest. Gently stretching the sides of your neck -- the trapezius muscles -- helps to relax the neck and shoulders, lending a little more height to the neck area. A great stretch for overall height and energy is done by standing up and raising your arms overhead. You can sway side to side to get the full effect of the stretch.
Meghan Palmer has written about health and lifestyle for publication for seven years. As a doctor of chiropractic with a degree in English, Palmer combines professional knowledge with real life experience for her health, lifestyle and parenting know-how. Palmer's recent work has been published in "The Rogersville Review" and "The Anniston Star."