Could running and other forms of exercise have the potential to make you grow taller, or is that just another wacky urban myth you can safely dismiss completely? Though the question is straightforward, the answer, as it turns out, is not. Before going into more detail, I can share that that answer amounts to "maybe". I can also add that that "maybe" essentially means that running may cause you to appear taller, but not to such an extent that running comes with a "lengthening" guarantee.
Now, let's look into how this all works.
Running Decompresses Your Spine
Besides age and injury, factors ultimately beyond our control, both living a sedentary lifestyle and going through life with poor posture contribute to the compression of the vertebrae in the spine.
Running is a sport that gets you off your butt regularly, removing you from the sedentary lifestyle you may previously have adopted, and it also makes you more aware of your posture — both while you are in action and throughout the day. These are factors that contribute to the decompression of the spine. As you guessed, spinal compression causes you to appear shorter than you are, while subsequent decompression combats this effect.
As such, it isn't that running makes you taller, but rather that running can contribute to your spine health in such a way as to help you to develop a healthy posture and promote your spine health. These things can prevent you from appearing shorter than you might otherwise present as. Your bone structure isn't altered, but the way it presents might be.
Sport And The Release Of Growth Hormone
Every time you engage in high-intensity exercise, research confirms, human growth hormone is released. A phenomenon referred to as exercise-induced growth hormone response (EIGR) is well-known in the medical literature now, though the exact reasons for this mechanism are still elusive.
As the effects of this release of human growth hormone are proven to last longer than 24 hours following the workout session, it is indeed possible that frequent runners could gain some height, at least over the short term.
Microfractures And Growth
Another fascinating theory is that running at maximum capacity causes a slight increase in height by causing numerous microfractures within the bones. These slightly injured parts of the bone are repaired speedily as the body fills the microfractures in. While this process could not possibly cause someone to grow several inches taller by itself, it is certainly a factor that could partially explain the observed phenomenon that regular running could lead to some degree of increase in height.
Should You Go Running To Become Taller?
Workouts specifically aimed at increasing height exist, and involve such things as hanging upside down to defy gravity and being stretched out on a board that resembles a medieval torture device. Even proponents of such targeted workouts do not claim that they have the potential to increase your height by more than a few inches, nor that their results are permanent.
You should run because running meets your need for physical exercise and as such increases your health, and because running is enjoyable to you — not specifically to grow taller. However, it is possible that running may make you slightly taller than you would be if you didn't run, for reasons discussed above. If this happens, the effects are almost certain to wear off if you were to stop running.
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