It is quite obvious that slouching causes you to look shorter. By definition, you’re literally not standing up as tall as you can when you’re slouching. You can simply regain your “lost” height by learning how to stand with proper posture. But you might be wondering, does slouching stunt your growth? Will you be permanently shorter because you slouched a bunch when you were growing up?
First of all, there are many tall people (6’ or higher) with terrible posture. I have a friend who is 6’3” who slouched most of his childhood. Throughout his elementary and high school years, he was extremely self-conscious about how his chest looked; he thought he had “man-boobs” and slouched heavily to try and hide it. His slouching was so bad, he started to look like the Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Despite looking shorter than he actually is, my friend’s slouching didn’t stop him from growing quite tall.
This is not an isolated incident. If the stories shared on message boards are to be believed, there are a lot of people in the world just like my friend. People who, for whatever reason, slouched heavily while going growing up and still growing to be over 6’ tall. On the other hand, I also know people who have impeccable posture and are physically active that are only average height. What gives?
Top Factors that Affect Growth
It’s hard to answer the question “does slouching stunt growth” because there isn’t much research on this specific question. However, there is a lot of research on factors affecting growth in general.
And from what researchers have learned, the top factors that influence one’s growth are their genetics, race, hormones, nutrition, birth weight, and environment. We will go over each factor in detail, and discuss why slouching doesn’t fit in any of them. Furthermore, some of these factors are beyond our control. For instance, we cannot change our genes or our birth weight (…yet?). They simply are what they are. However, we can change certain environmental factors to help us grow taller. These factors are:
Staying up late will make it harder for you to grow taller because that is when your body produces most of its growth hormones. So if you want to be tall, is it really worth it to stay up late playing video games or watching TV instead of growing taller?
The occasional late-night won’t do any harm long-term. However, if adolescents frequently sleep less than the recommended amount, then they are stunting their growth. Aim for a minimum of eight hours a night. Children between the ages of 6 to 13 should be getting nine to 11 hours, and teenagers 14 to 17 should aim for eight to 10 hours.
And besides, most people enjoy sleeping right? So don’t feel ashamed about sleeping almost half the day away. Your body needs the rest to produce more human growth hormone (HGH) to grow bigger, stronger, and taller.
As you are going through puberty, it is essential that you are providing your body with all the nutrients it needs. No, having McDonald’s each meal doesn’t make a proper diet. Also, having instant or junk food doesn’t help either. You want to limit the amount of foods in your diet that are high in sugar and trans fats.
Instead, what you should be eating more of are fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy, and whole grains. These foods will not only help you grow taller, but they will keep you healthy. They also have less calories and will satiate you for longer, which helps to prevent obesity and snacking.
As you experience growth spurts, your bones will be lengthening at a rapid rate. During this time, they will be sensitive and brittle. Make sure to up your calcium intake to increase your bone density. Milk is a good source of calcium, and almond milk is a great lactose-free alternative.
Vitamin D is also good for bone health. You can get it naturally in foods like fortified milk, egg yolks, and tuna. You can also get it from sunlight. If you plan on being in direct sunlight for longer than 10 minutes, make sure you put on sunscreen.
If your diet lacks calcium or vitamin D, you can also get them in supplement form. If you are an adult and plan on taking a supplement that promises it will add inches to your height, know that it’s a sham. Once someone’s growth plates have fused together, no further growth is possible.
Children and teens should be exercising an hour a day to stay fit and promote human growth hormone production. Regular exercise can also strengthen your muscles and bones. Even something as simple as simple as walking for 30 minutes a day can provide tremendous health benefits.
However, children are highly active and can handle a lot more exercise than that. During their one hour of exercise per day, they should focus on various training styles, such as:
- Strength-training exercises, such as sit-ups, push-ups, and pull-ups.
- Aerobic activities, such as walking, running, playing tag, biking, skip-rope, or team-sports.
- Flexibility exercises, such as stretching or yoga.
As important as exercise is, it must be done in combination with a healthy diet and sleep schedule. No amount of exercise can help you if you aren’t providing your body with enough nutrients. As we mentioned above, sleep is when your body produces most of its HGH, which is further increased if you exercise regularly.
As you can see, all of these factors work in tandem. Neglecting even one of them will negatively impact the others, and you will not grow as tall as you otherwise could have. Don’t think that exercise is more important, or nutrition is, when in fact, they are all equally important. If you want to maximize your growth, you should ensure you are getting enough sleep, nutrition, and exercise.
Why You Shouldn’t Slouch Anyways
Just because slouching probably doesn’t stunt your growth doesn’t mean it’s okay to do it. Not only does it look bad, but it can negatively impact your health. And no, we don’t just mean the occasional crick in the neck, we mean it can really mess you up. Here are some ways posture can interfere with your well-being and overall health:
When your body is upright, the spine isn’t actually straight. The spine has a natural “S” shape, with three important curves: one in the cervical spine (neck), another in the thoracic spine (upper back), and the last one in the lumbar spine (lower back).
Slouching will distort these curves, particularly in the cervical spine, allowing the force of gravity to put a lot of pressure on your neck. When your spine is out of alignment, it can cascade to more problems, some of which we will discuss below.
Neck and Back Pain
It should not come as a surprise that slouching can cause neck pain, but this pain can travel down even into your thoracic spine (upper back). It can take years for slouching to cause problems, but just because you can get away with it doesn’t mean you should let it worsen. Even teenagers can suffer the effects of bad posture, such as when they slouch in front of a computer or when they tilt their head down to read textbooks for too long.
Furthermore, pain isn’t the only issue. Poor posture, such as slouching, can pull on different muscles along your neck and back, overworking them and shortening others. These imbalances can cause injuries as you move your body, particularly when exercising, where good form is key.
Slouching reduces the amount of space in your chest cavity, which prevents your abdomen from fully expanding. When all of your internal organs are tightly compressed like this, it can cause indigestion. For your intestines and stomach to function efficiently, it needs all the space it can get.
Similar to how slouching can cause digestion problems, the reduced space in your chest cavity makes it hard for your lungs and heart to expand. Furthermore, bad posture can impair circulation, forcing your heart to work harder to pump oxygenated blood throughout your body.
Researchers have demonstrated that the poor posture people use when they look down at their smartphones is enough to impair respiratory function. If you want to be able to exercise effectively so that your body can produce more HGH and help you grow taller, then you need to be able to breathe properly first.
Research has shown that people with poor posture had lower self-esteem than those with upright posture. People who are suffering from depression tend to have poor posture. With that said, mood doesn’t always affect posture, but posture seems to be able to change people’s emotions. Furthermore, having good posture will help others perceive you as being more confident and happier.
Does Slouching Stunt Your Growth – The Bottom Line
It is difficult to say how much of an impact slouching has on stunting your growth. There are many people who have slouched during their youth that still managed to grow tall. Perhaps they could have been even taller? Slouching can make you look shorter, literally, by positioning your head lower than where it should be.
However, we believe that slouching has very little impact on your growth, as opposed to your genetics, nutrition, exercise, and sleep. If you are looking to grow taller, you should be eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, proteins, whole grains, and calcium. You should also aim to get an hour of exercise a day, and sleep for eight hours or more each night.
And if you have bad posture, while it may not stunt your growth, it can cause many head, neck, and back problems that you want to avoid anyway. So instead of asking if slouching can stunt your growth, you should be asking “why am I slouching anyway”?