Many factors, such as genetics, nutrition and hormones, help determine how tall you grow. There's no single, universal age that people stop growing. However, it's usually by age 21 that many of the body's processes involved in growing stop, which makes growing beyond age 21 less likely. Among other things, stretching and other exercises may help make you taller, or at least give you the appearance of being taller.
Even though you grow in phases throughout childhood, it’s usually the growth spurt during puberty that's more closely associated with the height you'll have as an adult. As “Scientific American” reports, about 60 to 80 percent of people's height is determined by genetics, which is through the DNA you inherit from family. Nutrition, according to “Scientific American,” makes up 20 to 40 percent of what determines your height. This is because a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruit, dairy, lean meats and water provides the nutrients needed for your body to grow. Among other things, this includes nutrients needed for bone development and the production of growth hormones. However, as a study published in 1995 by Sports Medicine reports, exercise -- which would also include stretching -- assists with growth hormone production and bone development.
Taller After 21
Generally, by age 21, the places on your bones that growth occurs -- called growth plates -- have closed up, and your body dramatically slows down its production of growth hormone. After this point, stretching will not make you taller as it pertains to actual "growth." However, stretching may help relieve the tension in your muscles and spinal cord, which realigns your posture and ultimately gives you the appearance of increased height. According to WalkTallShoes.com, by correcting your posture through stretching exercises, you may look up to 2 inches taller.
Other Benefits of Stretching
In addition to looking taller, as US Youth Soccer.org points out, stretching increases flexibility, which reduces the risk of injury as you move your muscles and joints during physical activities. "The New York Times" adds that stretching may also reduce muscle soreness caused by intense exercise.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) advises that before stretching, you should warm up your muscles through light cardio exercises -- such as walking -- to prevent injuries during stretching, such as torn muscles or ligaments. ACE also recommends not bouncing while you stretch; instead, hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, relax and then repeat the stretch hold. Even though slight discomfort is normal as your muscles are being stretched, to prevent muscle or ligament damage, stop or ease up stretching if your stretch begins to hurt.
- MD-Health.com: How to Grow Taller After 21
- Sports Medicine; Division of Kinesiology, University of Michigan; Effect of Exercise on Growth
- Yogiclogic.com: Yoga for Growing Tall
- Scientific American: How Much of Human Height is Genetic and How Much is Due to Nutrition?
- US Youth Soccer.org; Benefits of Stretching
- New York Times: Ask Well - Do We Need to Stretch?
- American Council on Exercise: Fit Facts – Flexible Benefits
Andrea Sigust began writing professionally in 1994, authoring user-friendly manuals, reference guides and information sheets while working at a hospital. After years of working in industries ranging from health care to telecommunications, Sigust became a writer. She specializes in the sciences and holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Maryland.