Does running make you taller? You may have asked yourself this question before when you started exercising regularly. It’s a myth. But like all good stories, there is a grain of truth in this one. We know that running isn’t just for weight loss, it’s also beneficial for your core and spine for weight loss – all of which can contribute to better posture. Because of this, some regular runners can appear leaner and longer.
If you want to appear taller by slimming down and improving your posture, running is a great exercise to do it. All you need is some comfortable workout gear and a pair of running shoes — although you’re reading our best running watch (opens in new tab) Guide is a good way to track your workout in more detail. We’ve highlighted some of the science below and consulted industry experts to get the lowdown on the relationship between running and height and posture.
How does running affect your posture?
Running has been shown to be beneficial for improving posture throughout life. As we age we tend to slouch as our bones weaken and our muscles contract, and running can help delay or prevent this.
It’s a great exercise for your spine, according to a study published in the journal PLoS One (opens in new tab). Your spine is made up of vertebrae, and between each is a disc that acts as a shock absorber for the spine. Usually, these discs become less effective with age, but the researchers looked at adults between the ages of 45 and 60 and found less age-related degeneration in those who walked regularly, keeping them upright and mobile for longer.
Running has a reputation for being bad for your joints – there’s a persistent myth that running is bad for your knees (opens in new tab) — but it’s less well known that running can be just as, if not more, effective than resistance training at improving bone density and preventing osteoporosis, according to a University of Missouri study (opens in new tab). This, in turn, prevents your posture from deteriorating as you age and maintains optimal muscle and bone health.
What if you want to improve your posture with running now, not 10 or 20 years from now? If you’ve just started running, it pays to consciously learn how to run properly (opens in new tab). This allows you to travel faster and more effectively and has a positive effect on your everyday life.
“The muscular adaptations that result from running could be beneficial in day-to-day posture,” says Melissa Thompson, associate professor of health sciences at Fort Lewis College. “However, running with a bad posture can also reinforce a bad posture in everyday life.
“Posture has been shown to have an impact on running energy, with research suggesting that poor posture can increase energy costs. In addition, posture affects the stress on joints when running, so runners with poor posture can be at increased risk of injury,” says Thompson.
UK Athletics running coach Lily Canter says: “Frequent running only affects posture in everyday life if you make a conscious effort to correct your running posture. If you have better posture while running, you’re more likely to transfer that into everyday life because it feels more natural.”
How to improve your posture
There are many ways to improve your posture, both in and out of your best running shoes. Correcting your running form is, pardon the pun, a good first step.
“I see a lot of runners with poor posture and that’s the first thing I try to correct,” says Canter. “If you run with slumped shoulders and a hunched back, you’re essentially wasting energy. It’s more efficient to have high hips and a straight back so you can move forward and not down.
“Imagine having a helium balloon attached to your head pulling you up. This will help you maintain good posture whether you are running, walking or sitting.”
The second factor, Canter says, is a strong core, since exercises to strengthen your core can also help your posture over time. Strengthening the muscle groups in the abdominal and lumbar regions of the body (essentially the muscles around the base of your spine) will help you improve your posture and performance at any age.
You might think of sit-ups or crunches immediately, but these exercises can put a lot of pressure on your spine because you’re pressing it into the ground as you move. A safer alternative is holding the plank position, which allows you to strengthen your lower back and abs without putting dangerous pressure on your spine. Check out our guide on how to strengthen your core (opens in new tab) for more informations.
While it’s not exclusive to running, it’s closely related: Performing core strengthening exercises improves your running efficiency and economy, allowing you to use less energy and run more safely, according to a study in the journal PLoS One (opens in new tab). Your core strength improves your posture while also making you better at running; Running more often, in turn, strengthens your bones and improves your posture, even as you age.
Long-term running in middle-aged men and disc health, a cross-sectional pilot study (opens in new tab)
Building strong bones: Running may offer more benefits than resistance training, study finds (opens in new tab)
Effects of 8-week core training on core endurance and running economy (opens in new tab)
https://www.livescience.com/does-running-make-you-taller Does running make you taller?