Monday, May 24, 2010

Grow Taller with Rolfing?

I wrote an earlier article about the various ways of maintaining proper spinal alignment which included chiropractic, massage, and rolfing.  Rolfing is different from massage even though it will have the same positive effects on your posture(and therefore your height).  Rolfing is a form of deep tissue massage.  Deep tissue massage targets your connective tissue of which articular cartilage is a part of.  We know that dynamic loading of articular cartilage enhances gene expression of anabolic activities for cartilage and chondrocytes.  Deep tissue massage is dynamic loading of articular cartilage.  If your growth plates are still open, deep tissue massage may enhance chondrocyte proliferation and differentiation in your growth plate resulting in increased height.  If you have no active chondrocytes then dynamic loading(deep tissue massage) may give you some height in your cartilage.  If you do re-activate chondrocyte proliferation with a mechanism like lateral synovial joint loading then deep tissue massage will have the same effect on enhancing chondrocyte proliferation and differentiation.

The thing is of course that lateral synovial joint loading is also a mechanism for dynamic loading of the cartilage.  It just also increases interstitial fluid flow in the bone and causes trabecular bone microfractures which releases mesenchymal stem cells.  But, it's very hard to dynamically load the cartilage in the spine(maybe you can use the cobra stretch or side bends preferably finding a way to increase the load over time).  Someone else may be able to force your spinal muscles to the side and get their hands deep in there to provide dynamic load to those intervertebral discs.

We also know that muscle and bone growth tend to be linked.  So, stretching the fascia of muscles could initiate signaling pathways that aid in bone growth.  Proper skeletal alignment and improved nervous system function could help as well.  If you want to try fascia massage, you can try one of these:
It can also provide dynamic loading on your cartilage as well.  Just roll your entire body over it.  Your back, your sides, and your appendages.  Still can't get the spine though cause those pesky ribs are in the way.

Thai traditional massage increases biochemical markers of bone formation in postmenopausal women: a randomized crossover trial.

"Forty-eight postmenopausal women participated in the study. All volunteers were randomized to a 2-hour session of Thai traditional massage twice a week for 4 weeks and a 4-week control period after a 2-week washout, or vice versa. Twenty-one subjects were allocated to receiving Thai traditional massage first, followed by the control period, while 27 were initially allocated to the control period.
Serum P1NP increased significantly after Thai traditional massage, while there was no change in serum osteocalcin or CTX. During the control period, there was no significant change in P1NP, osteocalcin or CTX compared to baseline. When age and height were taken into account, P1NP in postmenopausal women whose ages were in the middle and higher tertiles and whose heights were in the lower and middle tertiles had a 14.8 +/- 3.3% increase in P1NP after massage, while no change in P1NP was found in the rest of the women.
Thai traditional massage results in an increase in bone formation as assessed by serum P1NP, particularly in postmenopausal women who are older and have a smaller body build."

Why would a smaller height be beneficial to increased bone formation in response to rolfing?  Smaller body size may mean that the massage may be more centralized over a smaller area increasing the frequency that an individual part is exposed to load.  "tall postmenopausal women received less repetitive cyclic numbers of massage per body surface area than shorter women during the same period"

"Thai Traditional massage exerts pressure on the body in a rhythmic fashion. The massage
performer uses the outstretched heels of both hands to exert pressure on the body of the
subject approximately once every 1–2 seconds for 2 hours."

No chondrogenic related genes were measured.

Effects of Meridian Massage on physical growth and infants' health as perceived by mothers.

"Meridian Massage is a traditional practice that manually stimulates the body's meridian system - the same network of vital energy channels used in acupuncture. The present study was to assess the effect of Meridian Massage on physical growth and infants' health as perceived by mothers.
A study was conducted in a community health center in Korea. A total of 169 healthy infant-mother dyads were assigned to the Meridian Massage group or the gentle touch massage group, based on the mother's preference. All massages were conducted by the mothers for 15 min per session, one time daily over a course of 6 weeks. In each group, the infant's weights, heights, and the number of days with illness as perceived by mothers and related clinic visits were measured.
Significant differences were observed in weight and height after 6 weeks between the Meridian group and the gentle touch massage group. Infants in the Meridian Massage group showed a significantly different number of days with perceived clinic visits compared to those in the control group.
Meridian Massage may facilitate physical growth and improve infants' health outcome as perceived by mothers. A randomized controlled trial is required to further explore the effects of Meridian Massage in early infancy."

"After completion of the 6-week intervention, the average height growth of infants in the Meridian Massage group was 4.5 ± 0.2 mm, higher than infants in the control group (3.2 ± 0.1 mm)."

The effects of infant massage on weight, height, and mother-infant interaction., found no significant effect of massage on baby height after four weeks. The study was in a foreign language so I could not get it.


  1. so all this "grow taller with yoga" stuff is not fake?

  2. Well, yoga was never anything more than a way to improve posture. Yoga exercises that load the intervertebral disc cartilage could have positive benefits there but remembering our intervertebral disc research, disc loading might not affect the annulus pulposus which is what would gain height. However, this loading would be more "direct" than running on a treadmill would be.

  3. Good timing, I got a foam roller the same day you posted this! So, combining Rolfing and LSJL is best for results in gaining height? Are you doing Rolfing in addition to LSJL yourself?

  4. I am using a foam roller to experiment. There are a lot of things that could be helpful to gain height but the main thing is LSJL. Everything else is just gravy.

    It's hard to use the foam roller to get the extremities as if you are not off the ground except for your hand and the body part you are rolling I find that the roller doesn't dig enough into the muscle(or cartilage).

  5. Hello Tyler,

    Thank you for mentioning Rolfing® Structural Integration on your blog. I'd like to enhance your description of Rolfing if I may.

    Rolfing is somatic education the main purpose of which is to improve the structure and alignment of the body. It is not a form of massage therapy. Rather, Rolfing practitioners are the structural experts of the human body. We use skillful hands-on techniques as well as movement education to empower clients to take charge of their physical and emotional health.

    People get taller as a result of receiving Rolfing primarily through improved structural alignment. No research, that I know of, has shown Rolfing helps bones to grow longer.

    Carole LaRochelle, BCSI
    Certified Advanced Rolfer™