Outdoor Horizon is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission.

Does Hiking Make You Taller Or Is It A Myth?

There is a theory in some circles that hiking may make you taller, but is this true or is it a myth? You may initially think this is simply not possible, as hiking doesn’t appear to have any obvious impact on your height, but whether or not hiking makes you taller is still a common question.

Hiking can make you taller when it comes to your posture, but it cannot make you taller in the strictest sense, since it cannot change your natural skeleton. Hiking also improves muscle length, and that can have an impact on your posture too, and therefore how tall you appear.

So, the answer is undoubtedly mixed, but it’s interesting to look at which parts are true and which parts are indeed a myth. In the sections below, we will discuss the effects hiking may or may not have on your height and overall health, and separate fact from fiction.

Does Hiking Make You Taller?

Hiking won’t make you taller in a strict sense, but it will help you reach your full height potential. You see, there’s more to height than just your bones. The health of our muscles, ligaments, and tendons all play a role in your height. Your posture also makes a difference.

When it comes to hiking, it’s the way it helps you tone your muscles and gets you active that can lead to it effectively making you taller. Remember that hiking makes your muscles stronger too. Also, carrying a pack encourages better posture when walking. It basically makes you walk tall, and that is where the difference really appears.

Reaching Your Potential

Gettingblood flowing into those soft structures (your muscles, ligaments, and tendons) improves flexibility. The muscles and ligaments start to lengthen, but only to the length they should be naturally, and that allows you to take full advantage of your height.

You see, your skeleton requires the support of all the other bits and pieces for it to work. If you sit a lot and don’t exercise enough, the soft structures shrink, but only to a certain extent, and that is where the idea of hiking making you taller comes from.

When you work your soft structures with exercise such as hiking, you reach your full height potential rather than your skeleton and body being condensed due to inactivity.

Boots And Backpacks

Boots with the correct support can encourage the correct posture while hiking. The exercise gets blood flowing into those muscles and ligaments causing them to stretch. Your spine straightens up, you push your shoulders back, and you begin walking in more of an upright position. All of that will certainly give the appearance of you being taller.

And then there’s your backpack. Wearing a pack will make a difference to the way you need to walk. When you wear a backpack, you will naturally walk more vertically because you will tire out quickly if you don’t.

You need to walk on a regular basis for the benefits to really appear. Walking involves a period of adjustment to get your posture correct, and then the stretching of the muscles and ligaments will kick into action. However, you need to keep on doing it, or things will return to that rested state!

Does Running Make You Taller?

Running does make you taller in terms of your posture, provided you have good posture when you run. While running won’t make you taller in a strict sense, as you can’t grow your skeleton past its natural potential, running with good posture can lead to you appearing taller.

No amount of exercise will make your skeleton taller. It just cannot happen. It’s physically impossible. If that was the case, then marathon runners would be the tallest people in the world! Once again, it’s all about posture and the strength of your muscles, and that is where running plays a role.

Building And Lengthening

Running builds muscle and helps ligaments and tendons stretch just as hiking can do. That allows you to use your skeleton and body to its maximum potential rather than feeling as if everything is tight and you aren’t as flexible as you could be.

So, the benefits of running for your height are the exact same as hiking: both can help you reach your full height potential. However, you can apply the same concept to pretty much every form of exercise.

Is Walking Good For Height Growth?

We have a tendency to spend a considerable amount of our day in a seated position or hunched over in some way. This is not healthy and can make you appear shorter than you really are. Walking can help alleviate this problem.

Sitting at a desk or being sedentary has a negative impact on our apparent height in that we change how we stand, and we lose much of our flexibility. That is where we feel we lose some inches when it comes to our height.

Walking can help reverse all that damage. Sitting encourages our muscles and tendons to shrink since they are not being used. When you work out you build muscle, but if you stop and don’t do anything, then you lose some of that definition and your muscles start to revert to shorter lengths.

Sitting for prolonged periods of time does the same thing to muscles, ligaments and tendons. Walking reverses the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, leading to apparent height growth.

You Must Walk Correctly

All of this will only work if you walk correctly. Walking with poor posture will only further exacerbate things and could potentially lead to more issues.

Does Hiking Make Your Feet Bigger?

Hiking can make your feet bigger. Hiking puts your feet under a lot of stress, and this leads to the muscles and tendons stretching over time, which can lead to your feet getting slightly bigger. Long hikes may also make your feet swell, making them appear bigger for a period of time.

It makes a lot of sense to focus on your feet when you hike, so what’s going on with your feet when you hike on a regular basis? Well, this is one area where you may see a difference over the years, because hiking has been shown to be capable of making your feet bigger.

But we must stress not every single hiker will experience this. There are reports of people going up more than one shoe size due to hiking, but at the same time there are others who have worn the same hiking shoes for years.

Soft Tissue Expansion

The problem is with the tendons and ligaments in our feet. Keep in mind your feet carry all of your weight when walking, and it’s a natural thing for those ligaments and tendons to stretch over time.

This is something that can happen to anybody, so it’s not limited to just hiking. However, it does mean there are physical changes to your feet when you hike on a regular basis, and that’s why they may end up bigger.

But we must stress that it still doesn’t mean the bone structure in your feet will have changed. That is physically impossible. However, all the soft structures – your ligaments and tendons and muscles which give your feet shape – can change as a direct result of hiking.

How much of a change it makes varies, but it is certainly possible for your feet to grow up to half a shoe size or more. Also, keep in mind your feet will swell during the hike (your hands can swell too). Once again, that’s only natural, and that may mean your boots feel tighter at the end of a hike than at the beginning. But they will likely “shrink” back to their normal size rather quickly.

Is Hiking Easier For Taller People?

Hiking isn’t necessarily easier for taller people, as they have both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to hiking. They can cover more ground in a shorter period of time thanks to a longer stride, but they may also have some additional stress put on their joints because of their height.

But in general,this is a more complex question to answer than most people realize. A taller individual tends to have a longer stride. That means fewer steps taken over the course of a mile, with some estimates being in the region of 100 to 120 fewer steps per mile, depending on what you mean by tall and short, so there’s an argument it means less stress and impact on knees.

However, a taller person must lift their leg higher thanks to that longer stride. This can result in more strain on the hips and quads that’s not experienced by someone who is shorter.

Balance

There is also the issue of balance when hiking. With each stride, we incorporate an up and down motion and a slight side to side movement. This side-to-side motion will be bigger in a taller individual.

As we walk, our pack will also sway with our stride. You will have probably noticed that yourself. The sway of both your stride and your pack will be larger for a taller person than for a shorter person. That can also mean hiking may be slightly tougher the taller you are.

Ascending And Descending

A taller individual can usually cover more ground faster. They can also have better options of where to step next compared to someone who is shorter. Think about stepping over puddles or reaching a stone on a river crossing.

But then there’s the argument that a shorter person has better balance because their center of gravity is lower. That means, while the taller individual has the advantage when it comes to ascending, they lose that advantage when descending. At that point, a shorter individual with a lower center of gravity has the ability to descend faster.

There’s less concern about losing footing thanks to weight distribution being closer to the ground when you are shorter. So, it really is a mix here for taller people. Some aspects of hiking are easier, but other areas are tougher, so hiking is usually no easier for taller people than it is for shorter people!

The Main Benefits Of Hiking

Hiking has a number of real benefits when it comes to your physical health, and not just in the height department.

Fitness Levels

Hiking will clearly improve your fitness levels, and that’s never a bad thing. Also, you don’t have to always go on a hike that covers miles and various steep inclines to get the benefit. Just going on a normal weekend hike on a regular basis will make a noticeable difference. Even if you go on the same hike every single week, you will realize the hike gets easier as time goes on.

Having better fitness levels leads to significantly better physical health. Hiking is a great way to experience these benefits.

Stronger Muscles

Hiking will build muscle strength and your hikes don’t even need to involve steep inclines on a regular basis for these benefits to appear. Any form of walking will build leg muscles, as well as the muscles in your hips and lower back, and that leads to a stronger core.

Physical Health

Hiking has been linked to an improvement in various aspects of our physical health, and it’s all thanks to it being a wonderful way to improve our cardio.

Thanks to this, you can expect better heart health, better blood pressure, and even an improvement in blood sugar levels. Your cholesterol levels can also drop, and all of this is fantastic news for your health in general.

Mental Health

Your mental health will also benefit as a direct result of hiking. Being out in nature is known to boost those positive chemicals in our brain, leading to it helping depression, reducing anxiety, and improving mental clarity, among other benefits.

Even going out on a short hike once a week can make a huge difference to your mental health. Getting out there and being away from the hustle and bustle of life can reduce your stress levels, and your body will benefit as a result.

Final Thoughts

Hiking will not make you taller by growing your skeleton, but it will stretch your muscles, ligaments, and tendons to help you reach your height potential. It’s a great way to exercise, and it will improve your strength, flexibility, and posture, which may make you appear taller.