Well, do they??
The first time I heard someone ask this question, I actually giggled. I thought, how could exercise make you shorter?
The accusation could not possibly be true? Could it?
Suddenly this image of my grandma popped into my mind. My family would visit my grandma, who lived far away, only a couple times a year.
Every time she saw me she insisted I was getting taller. But every time I saw her I felt that she looked shorter. Later I learned that we do shrink somewhat as we age.
Shrinkage due to age may actually have to do with poor posture and losing muscular strength, not that we are actually getting shorter.
What does this have to do with squats?
A lot actually. Read on and find out the surprising truth.
- Yes, Squats Will Make You Shorter
- How Much Shorter Will Squats make me?
- How Can I Get the Height Back?
- Is There Anything I Can do to Prevent Losing Height Due to Squats or Lifting Heavy Weight?
- Will Weight Training Stunt Your Growth?
- Are There Exercises I Can do to Grow Taller?
- The Short and Long of it
Yes, Squats Will Make You Shorter
I got down to business and began to research this pressing question. In my research I found Elliot Hulse’s Strength Camp Video posing the same question I had.
In this video, Elliot gets technical with the human anatomy, and how squats affect our body.
I also learned something else that surprised me.
It is not just squats that make us shorter.
ALL Axial Loading exercises can make you shorter.
Axial Loading defined : Application of weight or force along the course of the long axis of the body. In the case of an overhead press or barbell squat, the axis is your spine.
Axial loading exercises that compress the spine:
- Weighted Squats
- Overhead presses
- Clean and Jerk
- ANY exercise that puts weight o the spine
These exercises compress the spine, increasing the curve of the spine. The compressive forces and increases curvature make you shorter.
What Does Elliot recommend?
BALANCE! He says you must balance strength training with mobility and flexibility exercises. He says the antidote for a compressed spine is:
- Foam rolling
- Bioenergetic stool ( watch the video below )
- Yoga – for lengthening
- ALL lengthening exercises.
Elliot calls Weight training and Bodybuilding exercises HARD exercises.
He calls stretching, Yoga, foam rolling etc SOFT exercises.
His point is that the SOFT and HARD must be in balance. Sort of like Yin and Yang.
I totally agree. Balance is good in all areas of life.
How Much Shorter Will Squats make me?
According to many fitness experts, squats will not make you noticeably shorter, and it can probably be reversed.
One study measured the before and after difference of 8 males with an average age of 24.8.
The height these men lost, on average, from “spinal loading” or lifting heavy weights where the load is placed on the back is about 3.59 mm.
A sesame seed is between 3 to 4mm tall.
So, squats can temporarily make you shorter, by the length of one sesame seed, temporarily.
How Can I Get the Height Back?
Give it a rest! Your back that is. In addition to the advice Elliot gave earlier about mobility and flexibility exercise, there is one other way to gain the height back.
Take a nap, relax, loaf on the sofa. Go to bed. By morning, your normal height will be restored.
Did you know?
You lose around 1 centimeter of height, give or take, as you go from the morning to the evening. That’s about 3 times the height you lose from doing squats, and you don’t even have to do much to lose that, except be awake.
Is There Anything I Can do to Prevent Losing Height Due to Squats or Lifting Heavy Weight?
While weight belts do not have a ton of science supporting there use, I did find one study that shows the belts can reduce height lost during weight lifting.
While the difference was not grand, the study noted that men who lifted without the belt lost an average of 3.59 mm, while those who used the belts lost 2.87mm, a difference of .72 mm.
.72 mm is not a lot, but hey, it’s something!
Besides that, if the belt can prevent any loss in height, there is a good chance it is actually doing something to protect your back.
Will Weight Training Stunt Your Growth?
This question is a little different from if squats make you shorter.
There are some ideas bouncing around that lifting heavy weights can slow or decrease a child or teenagers growth.
Will Weight Training Stunt Your Growth?
Scott with Scott Herman Fitness explains that it is not likely lifting weights will stunt, slow, or decrease growth.
There is a small possibility that your growth can be affected if you damage a growth plate, but that is a pretty severe injury that is more likely to occur with contact sports than weight lifting.
If you are lifting with proper form, and reasonable weights, there is little chance your growth can be stunted.
Are There Exercises I Can do to Grow Taller?
Exercises that Make You Taller
Elliot Hulse discusses how he was limited in his football career for being “too short”. Sadly he notes that there are no exercises that can cause bones to grow longer, that requires severe surgery.
The exercises that Elliot gives are those that improve posture and strengthen the back. These types of exercises can effectively make you look 1 or two inches taller, and better posture just looks good.
The Short and Long of it
In conclusion, Do squats make you shorter? Yes, sort of, but it is completely reversible and usually re-adjusts back to your natural height as you sleep.
So don’t avoid barbell squats, or overhead presses. Their benefits far outweigh the minimal, temporary height loss.
If you have a moment, leave us a ‘short’ comment below.