Working in a chiropractic office that sees people of all ages, we get this question frequently. Now, before we get into the details of if and how chiropractic care can help you reach your maximum height, we first have to understand the factors that affect our height. Let’s get right to it!
What determines our height?
When it comes to height, it’s important to keep in mind that our genes have a BIG impact in determining how tall we’re going to be. It has been found that genes can influence about 80% of our final height. This means that your parents height will greatly determine how tall, or short, you’ll be. Now, if neither of your parents are your ideal height, don’t despair just yet! There are other factors that can contribute to you possibly gaining a few inches more.
Next to genetics, nutrition is the second factor that most strongly determines your final height. Because we generally stop growing by the end of our teenage years, proper nutrition is essential during childhood.
Here are some important factors when it comes to nutrition and height:
The first thing to look out for is that you are eating enough. This does not mean that eating in excess will make you taller, it means that children who are deprived of sufficient food will use what little they have to keep their bodies running, instead of growing. This is why childhood malnutrition is associated with a shorter height, not to mention decreased health.
Out of all the macronutrients (i.e. carbohydrates, fats, and protein), a study found that protein is the most important nutrient to fuel growth. From eggs to meats, poultry, fish, nuts and grains, the key is to have variation in your protein, instead of having the same type every day.
Vitamins and minerals.
The same study also found that Vitamin A, vitamin D and minerals can be helpful as well. Too much vitamin A and vitamin D can cause toxicity, so speak to a doctor before supplementing with these. If you prefer finding some natural sources of vitamin A, consider carrots, avocado and leafy greens, such as spinach, asparagus and broccoli. For vitamin D you can try eggs, salmon, and fortified foods (such as fortified milk and yogurt).
What we do on a day-to-day basis can have a big impact, not just on our appearance, but on our overall health too. If we slouch and round our shoulders when we sit or if we keep our heads bent forward when we text, you can bet that our bodies are going to favor a more slouched appearance when we do just about anything else.
A forward head position or a rounded back from slouching doesn’t make us physically shorter, but it does make us appear shorter than we actually are. In order to combat this, try and straighten your posture when you can, especially when doing activities such as working, studying, sitting or standing. This doesn’t mean standing or sitting perfectly straight at every moment of every day, but keeping an eye out for when you’ve been a bit ‘too comfortable’ in your posture for too long.
Nevertheless, telling someone to improve their posture is much easier said than done. A lot of the time, our muscles are already used to a certain position, and it takes time to retrain your body to sit differently. Working in a chiropractic clinic, one question we get a lot is whether the use of posture braces is a good idea. While at first glance they seem like a great idea, it passively pulls your postural muscles into place without giving them a chance to actively fire and properly position themselves. This means they’re not learning to maintain the desired position.
How can chiropractic help me be taller?
Essentially the way that chiropractic care can support an increase in your height, even if you’re already past the point of growing, is by helping you to stand more upright and by improving your posture. The way chiropractic does this is by correcting your skeletal structure and supporting your muscles and ligaments.
You see, the length of your spine or vertebral column significantly contributes to your height. The reason why elderly people become shorter and slouch more is because they develop compression fractures along the bones in their spine, not because they physically get shorter. This means that maintaining the ideal alignment in your spine though chiropractic can help you stand up straighter and taller.
What causes slouching, rounded shoulders or a forward head position is years of continuous poor posture habits. This consistent posture results in tense muscles becoming tight or painful, while others become weak. The imbalance between these different muscles is what keeps you in the deficient posture that can then take a few inches from your optimal height. Chiropractic adjustments can help restore your body’s proper alignment, but it’s important to know that in the same manner that it took time for your entire body to learn and remain in this inadequate position, it will take time for your body to be retrained into the proper posture. Think of it similarly to when you get braces on your teeth: within a month your teeth might look great, but if you take your braces off too early then your teeth will quickly move back out of alignment. To get long-term quality care in a chiropractic office it’s important to understand that structural changes take time!
In our chiropractic office, we use a gentle and specific chiropractic technique called Torque Release Technique (TRT) to provide quality care, correct spinal misalignments and relax the tone of key muscles. By managing both structural and soft tissue components, not only do our practice members improve their posture, they experience alleviating pain, aches and stiffness that comes from the stress that poor posture puts on your joints. Some patients report feeling taller after some time under care, even when height has nothing to do with why they came in!
Why is posture important?
Keeping your body in its proper alignment is more important than you might initially think. Not only do chiropractic adjustments promote a natural posture, it helps your body be better able to mechanically distribute your weight and accommodate for all of your daily activities. Poor posture affects the joints in your hips, knees, ankles, neck and shoulders which can cause them to have to overwork themselves, meaning they will wear and tear quicker. Down the road this can mean discomfort, pain, and even hip or knee replacements. In addition to all of this, restoring your body’s alignment removes interference to the spinal nerves that communicate with all of your organs and tissues. This is why chiropractic adjustments can be associated with better blood pressure, sleep, digestion, stress, and more.
While genetics plays the biggest role in determining your total height, nutrition and daily habits can help you come closer to your ideal height. Eating protein and getting enough vitamins and minerals can fuel your body’s growth, especially if you’re still young and growing. And even if you’re past the point of growing, consider chiropractic adjustments with a trusted chiropractor so that you’re able to correct your posture and support your muscles and ligaments.
Silventoinen K. Determinants of variation in adult body height. J Biosoc Sci. 2003;35:263–285