Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Wilt Chamberlain, and Magic Johnson; these names come to mind at the thought of the sport, basketball. Apart from the fact that they are mostly African-American, another striking similarity is the towering height they share.
Basketball is a sport where players’ sole objective is to drop the ball through a hoop ten feet high (standard for professional leagues). So, it is only right that those involved in the sport have some advantage in their height.
So, were these legends originally tall before they started playing basketball, or did basketball contribute to their impressive heights? Let us find out.
Does Basketball Make You Taller?
Yes and No.
Yes, because the playing of basketball alongside other healthy habits could encourage growth.
No, because basketball alone cannot do the job of increasing your height. It has to work together with other things. And keep in mind that your genetic makeup mainly determines your height, not basketball.
However, there have been many theories trying to legitimize the increase of height due to playing basketball. But so far, no solid evidence has been presented to back these claims.
These theories are mainly centered on a hormone in the body known as the Human Growth Hormone.
Let’s talk about this hormone and its effect on the vertical growth of a human.
Human Growth Hormone
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is produced by the pituitary glands and it stimulates growth in children and adolescents.
The HGH also encourages muscle and bone growth, body fluids, sugar metabolism, fat and overall body composition.
There are claims that the flow of body current to one’s brain increases with jumping while playing basketball. The increase further stimulates the production of growth hormones within the body, aiding growth.
Playing basketball involves jumping, running; dribbling, and shooting- all physical activities trigger blood flow to the growth plates.
Growth Plates are areas in a young human where new bones are being formed. They comprise cartilages and are mostly present near the ends of long bones like the thigh bone (femur), the tibia, and the fibula in the lower legs. Other places include the bones in the hands and feet.
However, because of increased growth hormone levels, basketball players can surpass their genetically predisposed height.
While all these points raised seem valid, an exercise which playing basketball provides stimulates the growth hormone. But no evidence proves that it consistently affects the exercised areas of the body, ultimately affecting height independent of the genetic factor.
Factors That Aid Growth
Deoxyribonucleic Acid, popularly referred to as DNA, is a self-replicating material found in almost all living organisms. It is the major constituent of chromosomes and the carrier of genetic information.
Simply put, DNA is what transfers unique traits –looks, height, and et cetera- from parent to offspring. It is important to note that these traits are permanent and cannot be changed, except through plastic and cosmetic surgery, which is an aberration.
Scientists have proven that a person’s genetic structure is responsible for 80% of their height. This fact proves that you are more than likely to turn out short if you have short parents, and not much can be done about it by you or anyone else.
Nutrition plays a vital role in a human’s growth and physical development from infancy to full adulthood. Children with good and proper nutrition are more likely to be taller than children with poor nutrition.
That’s why nutritionists have recommended that for proper growth, children, adolescents, and teenagers should consume a balanced diet with enough fruits and vegetables. Balanced diets give the body all the essential minerals and nutrients it needs for survival and healthy growth.
But then, when it comes to bone health and growth, proteins and calcium are essential. So, it’s essential to consume meals that abundantly provide these nutrients and minerals. Here are meals that contain calcium in abundance:
A Handy Tip: some of these meals might be harmful to you if you are lactose intolerant so please, be on guard.
However, proteins are popularly known as the building blocks of life. So, consuming enough protein is the wise thing to do. Here are foods that are rich in protein
It is important to know that being intentional about healthy growth starts even before birth. A mother has to prioritize proper nutrition while pregnant for the healthy development of the bones and all-around health of the fetus.
Sleep is one of the biggest factors that aid growth. Human Growth Hormones are released in abundance during sleep. Thus, lack of proper sleep automatically means reduced levels of HGH.
Synthetic Human Growth Hormone, popularly known as Supplements, was developed in 1985. The FDA approved the use of these supplements to solve specific issues, not random use.
The FDA approves HGH injections to treat stunted growth of unknown origins and poor growth caused by some medical conditions for children. Some of these medical conditions are:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Turner Syndrome
Turner Syndrome is a well-known genetic disorder that affects only girls and women. This condition is caused by the partial or complete absence of the X chromosome.
- HGH deficiency
- Prader-Willi Syndrome:
Prader-Willi Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that causes poor muscle tone amongst other effects, ultimately stunting growth.
In adults, the FDA approves the use of supplements for three defects:
- HGH deficiency due to tumor growths sometimes found in the pituitary glands. These tumors are rare, but they do exist.
- Muscle-wasting linked to HIV/AIDS
- Short Bowel Syndrome:
Short Bowel Syndrome is one popular condition where the human body loses its ability to absorb nutrients appropriately. The problem usually arises because of serious intestinal disease or a surgical procedure where a huge chunk of the small intestine gets chopped off.
Asides from the reasons stated above; there is no FDA-approved use for supplements. Ironically, supplements are more popularly known for OTHER uses.
There exist rumors and speculation that synthetic HGH (supplements) can enhance sport and athletic performance. Sadly, for those involved, this has never really been scientifically proven. People still go ahead to pop supplement pills anyway.
There is also speculation that since HGH supply in the human body reduces with age, supplements should reverse body deterioration caused by age, an age reverser. This theory is also yet to be proven, but supplements are abused in hope nonetheless.
If you don’t have a medical reason for taking supplements, please steer clear. Even if you get the benefit, you could pay a higher price.
Numbness, edema, high cholesterol levels, nerve, muscle, and joint pain; all these are possible side effects of using non-prescribed supplements to try to increase your height.
So, basketball alone might not get you that desired height, but there are tons of other benefits of playing the game.
Benefits Of Playing Basketball
Your internal defense system is strengthened by playing this sport, making it easier for your body to fight off bacteria, toxins, and viruses, and making it more difficult to fall sick.
‘‘Cardi” refers to your heart. The intensity of basketball, like aerobics, spurs your heart to pump stronger, reducing the risk of heart failure and disease.
Bone strength and muscle Building:
Basketball helps speed up the entry of minerals into our bones. Like we said earlier, it is these minerals, which strengthen our bones.
Basketball also builds and strengthens the muscles applied to playing the sport.
The physicality of the sport and constant movement burns calories stored up in the body, preventing weight gain and keeping you fit.
No individual was designed by nature to be alone. Relationships forged on basketball courts all over the world are strong and have lasted for lifetimes for some. These friendships have spilled over from being just about the sport to building support systems for each other.
Are you looking for a friend? Maybe you should hit up a basketball court.
We believe it is a safe bet to assume you are a basketball lover. With this belief, we will throw in a bonus. Here are a few tips on improving your game.
- Practice consistently
- Improve game speed
- Practice hand alignment with the ball
- Improve physical fitness
- Your lower body shooting mechanics should be improved upon
- Watch more games! All the things you are trying to do better are being done week in week out by professionals.
Now, you can make that court yours. Best of luck!
Basketball alone cannot make you taller. But with the right amount of exercise, sleep, and proper dieting, you can enjoy healthy growth.
Basketball is a great sport that we all love to watch. However, we have seen tall players take the game by storm.
So, being tall can give you an advantage. But that doesn’t mean all tall basketball players are the best in the sport.