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Can Limb Lengthening Make You a Better Runner?

Limb Lengthening, a cosmetic procedure by which arms and legs can be elongated, is a surprisingly promising field. While there are risks associated, new techniques are paving the way for easier procedures. One of the popular reasons people around the world are getting limb lengthening surgery, apart from height increases, is for sporting advantages, notably for running.

How does limb lengthening work?

Limb lengthening might sound like a drastic, even dangerous surgery to opt for, but it’s not as uncommon a procedure as you might think. The procedure involves the careful breaking, stretching and setting of certain bones in the legs and/or arms. For leg lengthening, it’s usually the tibia or femur, while for arms it’s the humerus.

Most procedures result in the growth of roughly a few inches, but that will vary from person to person, depending on their overall health and fitness.

For regular or professional runners, their strong fitness regime will help decrease recovery time. Regular light exercise and stretching is recommended from day 1 during the healing process to aid effective growth and a speedy recovery. The whole process, including recovery can take up to 6 months.

Dr Jean-Marc Guichet, a French specialist in limb lengthening procedures, boasts that with his surgeries, patients can walk again the day of the operation. His pioneering procedure, featuring the Guichet Nail, costs around £12,000 (or 15,000 Euros) including all preparatory training and follow ups and aims to get patients cycling the same day as their surgery.

Can it make me a better runner?

Running, especially in a professional or competitive capacity, is all about finding ways to gain advantages. This can mean a new diet, stricter exercise regimes and training, but there are also outside means that can put a runner beyond their current level. Height, or rather leg length is one of them.

A taller person, with longer legs, has a greater stride distance. When it comes down to a few inches at the finish line, having a body which can reach a longer distance can make a difference. Over the course of a longer race or marathon, adding even an inch to each stride will cumulate in a decreased time, increased speed, overall.

But it’s not just helpful for runners, athletes in various sports can benefit from limb lengthening in specialised ways. With basketball for example, both longer legs and longer arms can help you score against your opponents with greater ease. If you’re a swimmer, longer arms can help you to move through more water at a better pace.

Limb lengthening is a serious surgery

Limb lengthening is a very serious procedure, and one which cannot be undertaken lightly. Even considering the athletic benefits, one must weigh the cost (both financial and otherwise) of such an operation for the sake of a couple inches. After all, when it comes to running, height isn’t everything. If your body is small, but also flexible, durable and strong, you will still be able to run a great race.

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About Paul Stainthorpe

Running has been part of my life since 2011. While growing up I hated running and would do anything to avoid it at school. Give me a ball and a racket any day. It’s funny how some things change. I run for good. In 2012 I ran the 12 Days of Christmas for the Percy Hedley Foundation. In 2013 I attempted (with friend Lee Nyland), the 12 parkruns of Christmas for the Tiny Lives Trust.


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