We have investigated thermally induced strain in the SiC crystal lattice during physical vapor transport bulk growth. Using high energy x-ray diffraction lattice plane bending was observed in-situ during growth. With increasing growth rate increasing lattice plane bending and, hence, strain was observed. A comparison with numerical modeling of the growth process shows that the latter is related to the heat of crystallization which needs to be dissipated from the crystal growth front. The related temperature gradient as driving force for the dissipation of the heat of crystallization causes lattice plane bending. Optimization of the growth process needs to consider such effects.