Saturday, November 7, 2009

The logical fallacies about growing taller

For approximately six years, I've studied how to grow taller. I've encountered several logical fallacies from people who wanted to discourage me from my efforts..

1) If it was possible to grow taller someone would've discovered it by now.

This argument only works for goals that have a low opportunity cost(i.e. you can gain abs of steel by using this machine for thirty minutes once a month!). If gaining height by non-surgical means takes a lot of effort, then it is entirely possible that basketball coaches, volleyball coaches, et. al. have not discovered it yet. After all, why have your players do something fatiguing when you could get already tall people and teach them the art of basketball?

The research on bone is inadequate. Research takes years to perform and they don't usually test for something they're not looking for. I used to work part time at a lab and the studies were highly complex to determine something so simple. A researchers hypothesis has to be simple to eliminate confounding variables. You have to get grant approval for funding, etc. The scientific method is the ultimate piece of red tape and the equipment used to study bones is extremely expensive. Also, most studies on bone are tested on mice and last I checked mice can't do the things that humans can do like hanging or deadlifts. At the rate scientists work at, it could take years for them to discover a non-surgical way of growing taller.

2) The growth plates fuse after puberty therefore it is not possible to grow taller.

Just because growing taller is no longer possible one way does not necessarily eliminate the ability to grow taller another way. We already know this to be the case via the surgical method. The key to growing taller involves microfractures and distraction(stretching) forces. The way to cause these microfractures is via spiral, impact, strain, and compression forces.

Microfractures can propagate as a result of distraction forces on the bone. These microfractures help the bone maintain it's distracted state and over time result in a long bone.

In addition, short and irregular bones are completely covered with periosteum and it is possible to increase periosteal width via exercise and even growth hormone.

3) If it were possible to gain height via specialized weight training why aren't bodybuilders super tall?

First, a Bone Mineral Density scan measures a bones size, mineral content, and porosity so there is no way to tell in vivo(for an alive subject) that a bone has grown bigger. How do you know whether it's not an increase in mineral content or a decrease in porosity making the BMD bigger(both of which do not affect height)?

Secondly, at the doctors office they do not do a thorough test in height. The procedure is designed to be quick and easy. That's the basis of the BMI after all so they don't have to do accurate body fat tests. Any small increase in height would be tossed aside as measurement error. Height is not the pentultimate indicator of skeletal size. It is possible for the skeleton to grow bigger without a large increase in height. We are three dimensional objects after all.

Third, the way people weight train may not be the optimal way for gaining height. The way most people weight train may not provide heavy enough spiral, compression, strain, or impact forces to get a large increase in bone size. The way most people weight train produces a larger load on the muscle but not a very large load on the bone. Of course, this should still produce a bigger bone(the same way that say a runner gains more muscle but not nearly as much as a bodybuilder) but not at a rate large enough to be unexplainable by measurement error.

Fourth, scientists are biased against testing their theories on weightlifters. Scientists are not willing to risk the perceived injury risk that heavy weightlifting may cause.

1 comment:

  1. Hello! I've heard about Asian women trying to stretch out their legs with some kind of steel stilts on their legs, is this false or do they actually try to do this? I've heard that they do it so they can reach the hight of a model. Also doesn't some native African tribes get taller by putting steel rings around your neck and that way stretch it?