How to grow taller is something most people would love to know. This is because being tall has enormous benefits. Tall people tend to have more successful careers, wielding greater power and even earning more.1 And then there are sports like basketball and volleyball where tall stature is a prerequisite. And for men, when it comes to finding a partner, being tall dramatically increases probabilities.
There are a great many factors that come together to determine adult height. Some of these can be influenced while others can’t. And once the growth plates are closed, the limitations are greater. Nevertheless, there are things that can be done. This page is a summary to help you understand how to grow taller, from genetics to wearing shoe lifts.
Please note that this page is for information purposes only. If you are really serious about growing taller, it is best to consult a medical professional. See the full disclaimer for more.
The Genetics of Growing Taller
We can’t swap the genes we are born with (at least for now). But it is nevertheless useful to understand the role of genes when learning how to grow taller.
Our genetics are the single greatest factor that affects our growth, somewhere around 60-80%. This leaves 20-40% to environmental factors.2 And the genes affecting growth are polygenic. This means many work in unison. In fact, the count is currently at over 400.3 So it’s exceptionally difficult to pick out which ones have what impact. But in general, the more active growth related genes the merrier.
We receive a combination of genes from our parents. So this is why we tend to be a similar height as our parents. But the passing on of genes is enormously complex. Sometimes genes that were previously recessive can become active, or vice versa, very much affecting growth. This means it is relatively common for a child to end up taller or shorter than their parents.
Nutrition to Grow Taller
Of all the environmental factors affecting growth, nutrition is the greatest. The impact of nutrition on growth can be appreciated by looking at the height reduction of populations that have lived through famines versus those of more prosperous times. So nutrition is one factor that can help you maximize your genetic potential. Good nutrition may allow you to surpass your parents’ heights. The following are some important dietary considerations for those wanting to learn how to grow taller.
The macronutrients are crucial when it comes to growing taller. There are three macronutrients: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Protein is the main building block for the tissues of the body. Fats and carbohydrates provide the energy for carrying out the bodies functions, including growth.
Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are also important for growing taller. Calcium, for instance, promotes the growth of the bones, and same with vitamin D. Zinc is also important.4
Some foods are better than others for delivering the important macronutrients and micronutrients for growing taller. For example, milk is often considered beneficial for growing tall given it contains large amounts of both calcium and protein. And fish is also good given the protein, vitamin D, and healthy fats.
But it is important to consume macronutrients and micronutrients in ratios that promote health in general, such as those set out in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.5 Furthermore, surpassing recommended energy consumption limits in general may have implications for other aspects of your health beyond growth. In other words, it’s still important to be moderate when trying to increase growth with nutrition.
Another benefit of eating well is that risk of childhood illnesses, some of which may stunt growth, is decreased.
Human Growth Hormone Supplementation
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) stimulates the production of IGF-1, and thereby growth throughout the body. HGH is naturally produced in the pituitary gland. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe HGH supplements to accelerate growth. HGH supplementation outside the guidance of a medical professional may be hazardous. The growth plates of the bones close (fuse) after puberty and thus HGH no longer affects vertical growth.
The highest levels of HGH production occur while we are sleeping. So it follows that sleep is particularly important for maximizing growth. Both the duration and depth of sleep are important. Probably the most essential aspects of getting a good night sleep are that your bedroom is dark and quiet.
Growth Stunting things to Avoid
While it’s important to seek out ways to promote growth, it’s equally important to avoid things that stunt growth. For example, you should avoid smoking. Steroids should also be avoided where possible. Caffeine has also been suspect, but this is more likely due to it’s affect on sleep.
Leg Lengthening Surgery
It is possible to have your legs surgically lengthened. The general idea is to break the legs and then use telescopic rods to gradually increase the length of the legs. Given how gradually the lengthening occurs, new bone fills in the expanding gap. The procedure takes about six months and is expensive and painful with potentially adverse effects. So it should only be considered as a last resort.
When you’re trying to maximize your growth, it is helpful to be able to track your progress with growth charts. It may also be enlightening to use a height calculator to figure out how tall you are likely to be. A height percentile calculator can then show you where you stand in relation to your peers.
Exercises to Grow Taller
Exercises alone can’t actually increase the length of your bones. But what they can do is help you stack the bones in a more vertical orientation. This effectively makes you taller. In other words, exercises can counteract postural distortions, such as the crossed syndromes, that make you shorter. The general idea with such exercises is to stretch tissues that may be overly tight and strengthen those that are overly weak. Besides growing taller, the resulting good posture will make you appear more confident in general, thereby providing similar benefits of tall stature.
Though such exercises can’t increase the length of your bones, it is possible that the resulting good posture better allows the spine’s intervertebral discs to remain hydrated throughout the day. And well hydrated discs are taller, thereby helping you grow taller. This is why you are taller in the morning than the evening.
Above are some essential exercise if you want to learn how to grow taller. As far as activities that parallel these, yoga is probably the best popular one. Some of the below poses in particular are helpful for growing taller.
Though you mainly want to know how to grow taller, an alternative is to simple appear taller. This can be achieved with height increasing footwear like high heels. Similarly, lifts can be inserted into footwear to make the wearer taller. Other tricks for appearing taller include a bigger hair-do and vertical stripes.
How to Grow Taller in the Future
Currently, our growth is limited by the potential of our inherited genes. Advancements are being made, however, where our genes can be selected and even altered prior to birth. What this will mean is that our parents may be able to have a say in just how tall we may eventually grow to be. However, while genetic manipulations in general are becoming possible, those for influencing height are complicated by the vast array of genes affecting height. Perhaps one day though…
But Being Tall isn’t all Hoops and Glory.
Finally, it’s important to understand that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. Exceptionally tall people have their own struggles to deal with. For instance, tall people have a higher risk of musculoskeletal injuries and cancer. There is even mounting evidence that tall people may not live as long as their shorter counterparts. And tall women are at a marked disadvantage when it comes to finding a partner. Considering these factors should give some additional perspective to the height conundrum.
- The effect of physical height on workplace success and income: preliminary test of a theoretical model.
- How much of human height is genetic and how much is due to nutrition?
- Defining the role of common variation in the genomic and biological architecture of adult human height.
- Zinc deficiency: a special challenge.
- 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans