Your height isn’t fixed and changes throughout your life.

Through childhood and adolescence, your bones continue to grow until you reach your adult stature in your teens or early twenties. During middle age, your body usually starts shrinking slowly due to years of compression on your spine. People typically lose about 2 to 4 centimeters (0.8 to 1.6 inches) throughout their life compared to their peak adult height.

Your height is largely determined by your genetics and there’s no feasible way to purposefully make yourself shorter. However, it’s only one of the many qualities that makes you who you are and there are no health benefits to being shorter.

Many people well below and above average height go on to live successful and happy lives. Accepting your height isn’t always easy, but it’s ultimately the best option if you’re dissatisfied with your stature.

Let’s look at what influences your height and ways you can create the illusion of being shorter than you actually are.

There’s no feasible way to make yourself shorter intentionally. The long bones that make up your arms and legs stay relatively the same length your entire life. Most of the age-related height loss you’ll experience comes from compression of the discs between your vertebrae.

Compression of your spinal discs can also cause day-to-day fluctuations in your height. If you’re like some people, your height may change by more than an inch from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. For most people, this change is more likely to be closer to half an inch.

Bone-shortening surgeries do exist, but it’s extremely rare for them to be performed for the sole intention of making you shorter. These surgeries are usually reserved for counter-balancing leg length differences.

It’s a common myth that lifting weights in childhood or adolescence stunts your growth. But there’s no evidence that this is the case. A properly designed exercise program can help strengthen your bones and protect your joints from injury.

Even though lifting weights doesn’t lead to growth stunting, resistance training with poor technique — or with weights that are too heavy — can damage your growth plates. Your growth plates are the soft parts of your long bones from which they grow.

Injuries to your growth plate are not unique to lifting weights. About 15 to 30 percent of childhood bone fractures affect the growth plate. With proper treatment, serious complications are rare.

Although there’s no feasible way to make yourself shorter, there are many ways you can give yourself the illusion of being shorter. Your wardrobe plays a big role in determining how tall you look. If you want to look shorter, it’s generally a good idea to wear oversized clothes and clothes that add volume to your figure.

Many people believe that wearing horizontal stripes may make you look wider and that vertical stripes may make you look taller. However, research actually suggests the opposite may be true.

  • Flat shoes. Try wearing shoes with a flat bottom, and avoid shoes with heels or lifts.
  • Avoid pointed shoes. Wearing pointed shoes may make your legs seem longer.
  • Wear longer tops or jackets. Shirts and jackets that are long or baggy can make your legs look shorter. You can also avoid tight tops since they’ll have the opposite effect.
  • Skirts over the knee. Wearing longer skirts can give the illusion that your legs are shorter.
  • Color blocking. Wearing tops and bottoms that are distinctively different colors can segment your body and give you the illusion of being shorter.
  • Wear your hair down. Wearing your hair down and growing out your hair tends to make you look shorter.
  • Carry a larger purse. Carrying a large purse may make you look shorter by comparison.

Genetics play the largest role in determining how tall you’ll be. Your overall health, sleep quality, and nutrition are also important.


Researchers estimate that 80 percent of your height is determined by your genetics. The remaining 20 percent is made up of environmental factors such as your diet, sleep, and exercise habits.


Men are on average taller than women. According to the CDC’s 2018 National Health Statistics Report, the average height of men in the United States over the age of 20 is 5-foot, 9-inches. The average height for women is 5-foot, 3.6-inches

Health status

Conditions that affect your bone growth during childhood can influence your height as an adult. Some examples include:


Children who are malnourished commonly experience stunted growth from a lack of calcium, protein, vitamin D, and other nutrients. It’s estimated that a third of the 155 million stunted children in the world live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Children and adolescents with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa may also experience stunted growth from a lack of nutrition. If the eating disorder is short-lived, the person may experience catch-up growth. But chronic malnutrition may lead to permanent growth stunting.


Your pituitary gland releases growth hormone while you sleep. Growth hormone is an anabolic hormone, meaning that it stimulates the protein synthesis important for muscle, connective tissue, and bone growth.

Both the quality and quantity of your sleep play a role in your bone development.

Although there’s no feasible way to make yourself shorter, it can be helpful to realize that your height is only one part of you and doesn’t prevent you from living a happy life.

You may find it helpful to make a list of all your best qualities to help take your focus off your height. You may also find it helpful to make a list of the advantages of being tall to help take your mind off the negative aspects.

Your height is primarily determined by your genetics and there’s no practical way to make yourself shorter. Even if it’s difficult, your best option if you’re dissatisfied with your height it to accept it and try to make the most of it.

Wearing clothes that are loose-fitting and add volume to your body may help give the illusion that you’re shorter.