I stretched out an inch after taking up yoga and swimming. Here's how I "grew taller" in my mid-20s.
Can You Get Taller Naturally?
Although the hard news is that 80% of our height is predominantly determined by genetics and will be close to the average of your parents’ height, there are ways to naturally increase your height via nutrition, activity, and self-care, especially during your developmental years (up until puberty) and even after; I speak from personal experience. This means that 20% of your growth can be determined by your activities and health choices.
I Grew Over an Inch in my Mid-20s
I thought I had reached my peak height in my early 20s—I measured in at 5'4" regularly. After suffering from a sports injury and picking up alternative methods of exercise like swimming and yoga for the first time in my life, I measured in at a whopping 5' 51/4" inches at the age of 25, well past the point at which we are supposed to stop growing when our growth plates close—age 18 for females and age 20 for males.
I should mention that I am the tallest in my family. I also exercised regularly as a youth and did not use illegal substances. Sleep and healthy eating fluctuated for me—sometimes I ate junk food like candy and went to bed late.
Ways to Increase Your Height
Some of this advice is recommended for individuals who are still growing (under 20 years of age) but also benefits adults:
- Vitamins and Minerals: A well-rounded diet is important. Collagen plays a huge roll in growth so it is important to consume collagen-rich foods. There are also collagen supplements that are available for vegans and vegetarians. Vitamin C plays an important role in essential bodily functions as does vitamin D. A little bit of sun exposure is good, under 15 minutes, and helps with bone growth. Wear adequate protection. Inadequate vitamin D has actually been proven to stunt growth. Zinc and calcium are also important minerals for height. Protein, too, should be a staple in your diet—whether plant-sourced or animal-sourced. Bone broth soup is packed with collagen. I add Pacific Organic Bone Broth to my cooking. The flavor is good and it has 9g of protein per serving.
- Posture: Posture is everything. If you are slouching, you are automatically diminishing yourself. Focus on tucking your pelvis under your tailbone, lengthening the spine, and rolling the shoulders back. Imagine a string is pulling from the tip of your head towards the sky. Sometimes, too, I like to walk as though sunshine is reflecting off of my collar bones. Posture is everything!
- Sleep: Get your sleep! Sleep allows the body to regenerate and is essential for health!
How to Look Taller
- The Hair Cut: A short or medium-length haircut creates length from the chin/neck to the shoulders and creates the illusion of body length. Go with what works for you.
- Clothing: Wear vertical patterns, heals, and skinny jeans in dark colors. Vertical lines make the body look longer and leaner. Men can wear boots for elevation, too. Patterns can be offset to draw attention to a certain area of the body. If you have short legs, wear dark, slimming colors on the body and a vibrant top—consider putting your hair in a bun. Use illusion to your advantage.
Can I Increase My Levels of Human Growth Hormone or HGH?
Yes, you can. You can do so naturally with the following tips below. Of course, success and results vary from person-to-person.
- Lose the abdominal fat
- Fast intermittently (only for the experienced; do not try if you are diabetic); fasting lowers insulin levels
- Consider an arginine supplement (high levels may lead to an increase of up to 60% in HGH)
- Cut out sugar or reduce it
- Exercise regularly and at high intensity
- Get your sleep (sound sleep is an ultimate must when it comes to growing)
Increase Your Height With Dynamic Stretching
While we will go over things like self-care, getting proper sleeping, eating the proper foods, vitamins, minerals, and supplements, improving posture, etc., the way I accidentally increased my height was through dynamic stretching. It worked for me. I was very happy when I had my annual physical and found out that I had “grown” or stretched by an inch just from swimming and yoga alone.
What Is Dynamic Stretching?
The key benefit of dynamic stretching is that you are working against the compressing effect of gravity on the body which occurs over the years. So over time, our spinal cord compresses. This could be from slouching at a desk all day or simply from not being active.
Dynamic stretching involves movement and stretching at the same time, so the muscles themselves are being activated while we stretch and they are used for extension. This is much different from “static” stretching which involves holding a stretch without the sensation of “reaching.”
The Benefit of Swimming
Activities like swimming are great—we float and feel free of gravity in some ways, thus allowing the spaces between our joints to relax. I felt like freestyle stroke and backstroke did exceptionally well at stretching me out . . . they are antagonistic strokes (work the body in the opposite way in the shoulders) but also focus on extending the body.
The Benefit of Dance
Dance is another great activity—especially for models—it will help your posture and form in photos by adding a level of grace and body control. You see how long and lean ballerinas are, but this can be achieved with other styles like contemporary, jazz, etc. If this is more your thing, check it out.
The Benefit of Yoga
Yoga, like a basic vinyasa flow, is great for dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretches include twists, lunges, and positions that enhance “reaching” and full range of motion movements. Here are some yoga poses that might help to increase your height over time. The secret to these techniques is diligence and repetition, even if it’s for 5 minutes every morning.
How to Use an Inversion Table
Inversion Tables Help to Lengthen the Body
Did you know that hanging and stretching can reverse spinal compression? Even with stretching, however, your spine will compress again overtime so regular activity is super important for growing taller.
One method that I'm quite fond of is the inversion table. Back when I worked on a computer, I used to arch my back over the couch to get some extension and back relief. That's when I began to look into inversion tables. You can search for an inversion table on Craigslist and at store-wide sports equipment sales.
How to Use an Inversion Table
Acquire an inversion table with good safety reviews. Be extremely careful about selecting used inversion tables from an independent seller.
- Place your table in an open space where it has free range of motion. You do not want to collide with any objects, break the table, or hurt yourself.
- Adjust the table to your body dimensions. You may have to read the instructions if provided or look up your model on the internet to watch an instructional video.
- Start conservatively at the lowest degree—somewhere around 10 degrees. Note how your body feels. If you feel dizzy, nauseous, or feel your heart pounding and panicked, back off.
- Next, lock your feet into the device and secure them. Be sure to hold on firmly. It is recommended that you wear shoes. Have someone supervise you for this step.
- Lift your hands over your head and invert. Try to relax and breath calmly.
- Don't push it and stay safe. Work with what your body can handle and focus on gradual increases in duration and degree over time.
Inversion Table Safety
Inversion tables aren't for everyone—especially those with diagnosed back issues, blood pressure issues, and poor physical physique. Most sessions last 1-2 minutes, and masters of inversion tables will go for 3-5. It really depends on how long it takes for your body to release.
Yoga Poses to Elongate the Spine
How Yoga Can Make You Taller
Tadasana or Mountain Pose
This pose is the foundation of yoga. It is simple for anyone to try. Let's begin:
- Stand with your feet directly under your hips with a very slight bend in the knees.
- Make sure to ground your feet firmly.
- Stand tall and imagine a string running from your tailbone to the tip of your head. Imagine that this string is pulling you towards the ceiling or sky.
- Extend your arms out on either side at a less than 45-degree angle.
- Spread your hands into a starfish pattern. You should feel as though energy is running out of the tips of your fingers and through your feet.
- This is a very empowering posture. Hold for up to 30 seconds and breath deeply. Enjoy!
Vriksasana or Tree Pose
Begin this position from tadasana or mountain pose.
- Choose one rooted leg to stand and raise the free leg to your inner thigh. You can rest the bottom of your foot against your inner calf if you cannot reach your inner thigh. (Do not rest the bottom of your foot on your knee joint—this is extremely hard on your knee.)
- Once you are steady, reach your hands over your head as if scooping the air up above you. You can sway side to side.
- Focus on a single point with a gentle gaze; this is called your drishti.
- As you balance, imagine that a string is extending from your bottom rooted foot through your head and to the ceiling.
- Hold this posture while focusing on your breath for up to 30 seconds and switch. Enjoy!
Paschimottanasana or Seated Forward Bend
This is a wonderful posture for stretching out the hamstrings and lengthening the spine. Let's begin:
- Begin in a seated position on your mat with your legs out in front of you.
- Wiggle your hips back and forth until your seat bones are square under your hips.
- Flex your toes towards your face so that your ankles are at a 90-degree angle.
- Reach your arms over your head, extending your spine.
- As you forward fold, exhale and focus on touching your feet or resting your hands wherever they fall.
- As you lean forward, focus on extending the spine from the base and keeping your neck long with your head facing the ground.
- Hold for up to 30 seconds and breath. Enjoy!
In order to let your body reach its full potential, it is important to practice self-care at any age—avoid junk food or processed food, avoid cigarette smoke and alcohol, reduce your daily level of stress and get your sleep. Taking care of your body is the ultimate way to reach your full potential—in mind, body, and spirit.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 Layne Holmes