T Nation

Getting Shorter


I've read somewhere that PL's, after several years of heavy lifting, tend to get shorter (by several inches) than they where prior to lifting because of their spinal discs being compressed.

With this in mind, I wonder at what level of lifting this becomes apparent or if it's just a myth?



Even worse if you're also a paratrooper....Hell, I used to be 6' 5" and now I'm down to about 5' 8"




You naturally shorten as you get older.


Ok, but heavy lifting or extreme athleticism (like gymnastics) pre or during puberty impedes height growth, right? Seldom see any tall gymnasts...



sorry but is this a joke?

you seldom see tall gymnasts because at an early age, taller ones drop out, as it is a disadvantage to be tall.

its the same as saying "does playing basketball as a child make you taller? cos you seldom see short basketball players" no, playing basketball does not increase your height, shorter players drop out at a young age as it is a disadvantage to be short.


Elite powerlifters have shown reduced disk heights in some studies (some of Stuart McGill's work), doubt that it translated to a significant decrease in height.

Only if the growth plates are damaged which is harder to do than it sounds. The gymnast comparison that you're making is like saying that playing basketball must make you taller because most of the pros that you see are over 6'+, it's advantagous based on the demands of the sport.


Oh christ no.

You don't see many big gymnasts because it simply isnt the bodytype for the sport. They are selected against.


i cant say lifting has made me shorted, but after having a compression fracture of my t-9, then having multiple herniated/ruptured discs in my lumbar area, ive went from being 6'1" at 18 years old to about 5'10-11" now at 23. ive seen somewhere that many PL's will hang upside down for some time to decompress their spine. havent read much more into it though to see if it works.


No, it's not a joke. I'm basically just wondering if hard training has any negative consequences where height loss is the only one I've heard of.

As for the basketball analogy, it's not really true. Early age training in basketball is more about playing around than actual training, whereas early age gymnastics training is very rough on the body (extreme stretches, flips and so on). Which was what I meant.

Also, studies on young, hard training, female swimmers have shown that their first menstruation cycle got postponed. So obviously does hard training affect the growth of the human body in some ways, and then why not the height?


we'll talk about compression when you're knocking out squats with 800+ on your back


I was 5'7 when I started powerlifting 5 years or so ago, and I am now 5'6. So I would say yes, it happens. Really sucks when you're already short to begin with, but oh well.


Sorry to hear about your injuries, hope they don't hinder your training too much.

I've been incorporating hanging by hands (hanging in the bottom position of a pull-up) into my routine after a heavy squat or deadlift session. Feels really good doing it, kind of like my lumbar spine corrects itself and expands back to normal. Anyone else who uses this in their training?



Don't know whether this "tactic" work, yet I do this all the time after my leg workout and I actually do feel better.


Here is a good article about spinal decompression.



Maybe it has a positive effect if you look at "anecdotal" evidence. All those jacked up NFL players lift from a young age and they're tall so..

Correlation does not = causation


Thanks for the link. I think I'll try these. It makes sense really. I know my back always feels better after hanging leg raises


Brian Schwab was once 5'10...


True. The height of a person is probably dependent on several variables, where hard training is just one. Sleep and food is probably important too, and of course genetics.

That's also true, although correlation is a criterion for causation.


Verne Troyer used to be 5'9 before he started powerlifting.

Seriously, though, I know someone who's said he's shrunk about an inch and a half since he started powerlifting. He's squatted 1003, though. I doubt you're going to see much effect from this unless you're squatting a fuckload of weight.