Can adults grow taller?
After age 18, most tricks to increase height will not work, even with good nutrition and exercise
However, there are ways to appear taller and prevent loss of height, which is common as people age.
What determines height?
Height may be accounted for by genetics.
Height is determined by a range of factors, including:
- certain medical conditions
Genetics account for the majority of a person's height. Studies on fraternal twins show that the biggest factor in determining a person's body type is heredity.
Quite simply, if a person's parents are tall, it is more likely that the person will also be tall. If a person's parents are short, it is much more likely that the person will be short as well.
Sex is another biologic factor that plays a role in determining a person's total height. Women tend to have less total height potential than men.
Certain medical conditions can also play a role in determining a person's height. The following conditions can change the way a person grows during childhood:
- untreated celiac disease
- any condition requiring the prolonged use of steroids
- Down Syndrome
- Turner Syndrome
- Marfan Syndrome
Nutrition also impacts a person's potential for height. Getting good nutrition that includes dietary sources of vitamins and minerals helps people grow. Conversely, individuals who do not get adequate nutrition may not grow as tall.
Studies have found that as nutrition has improved over time, people have gotten taller. So, children that eat a diet rich in calcium, protein, and other nutrients will be able to maximize their potential for growth.
Physical activity also plays a role in childhood growth and height, as being active promotes the release of the growth hormone. When this hormone is released, a child with open growth plates in their bones may experience more growth than they would if not physically active.
However, once the growth plates in the bones close, a person will generally not grow any taller. Most females reach their full adult height between the ages of 14 and 15. Most males reach their full height by age 16. It is very unusual for a person to grow after age 19.
Ways to increase height as an adult
While there is nothing that can be done to increase a person's height after the growth plates in the bones have closed, there are ways to look taller. These include the following:
Practicing good posture
Bad posture may lead to back pain.
To stand with good posture, a person should follow these tips:
- keep the shoulders back
- pull the belly towards the spine, with the muscles lightly engaged
- keep the head level and in line with the body
- place the feet shoulder width apart
- avoid locking the knees
- keep the weight primarily on the balls of the feet
- let the arms hang naturally at the sides
To practice good sitting posture, a person should do the following:
- keep feet flat on the floor while sitting
- adjust the chair height, so thighs stay parallel to the floor while seated with feet on the floor
- avoid crossing the legs
- support the back using a small pillow or towel
- let shoulders rest comfortably
Maintaining good posture helps keep the proper space between the vertebra and may make a person look taller and longer.
Strengthen the core muscles
Practising a plank may help to strengthen core muscles.
A strong midsection can help a person maintain good posture and look taller. The core muscles are the muscles in the abdomen and along the spinal column.
These muscles help support the spine. When these muscles are too weak, the spine is not properly supported and may get compressed. It can also lead to slouching.
To get stronger core muscles, a person can try the following exercises:
- Plank: Keeping abdominal muscles engaged, hold the position at the top of a push-up.
- Superman: Laying on the stomach, extend the arms, legs, and head off the floor and hold.
- Abdominal crunch: Laying on the back with knees bent and feet on the floor, raise the head and shoulders using the core muscles.
Ways to prevent loss of height
While adults cannot do much to increase their height, they can take steps to avoid age-related loss of height.
After a person reaches the age of 40, they may lose as much as half an inch of height per decade due to osteoporosis, compression of the spine, and other reasons. This can add up to a significant loss of height over time.
To combat age-related shrinking, people can do the following:
- maintain adequate nutrition, including getting plenty of calcium
- do weight-bearing exercises regularly to combat muscle loss
- stay properly hydrated
- avoid cigarette smoking
- get plenty of rest
Bottom line: Can height be increased?
No, an adult cannot increase their height after the growth plates close. However, there are plenty of ways a person can improve their posture to look taller.
Also, a person can take preventative measures against height loss as they age.