I'm 20. Can I still grow taller?

I'm 20. Can I still grow taller?

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I'm 20, in about 6 months I turn 21. For some time I've been wondering whether there are natural, non-surgical and non-pharmaceutical ways that humans can continue to grow after reaching adulthood.

Please answer only if you are certain about this or you can reference any trustworthy source.

Thank you a lot friends.

The answer is probably No.

"Long" bones - like the tibia, fibula, femur, humerus, etc. grow at the ends during childhood via a special formation called the Epiphyseal plate (also known as "growth plates"). The plates are composed of a special cartilage that grows, and slowly calcifies as a person reaches adulthood.

When the growth plates completely stop expanding is left to genetics, but generally happens 2 years after puberty finishes - about 16 for women and 18 for men. So after those ages there's little, if any, significant growth - though it can happen in very rare cases.

To date there aren't any exercises you can perform that will elongate bones. It doesn't make physiological sense; stretching puts stress on muscles and tendons - not bones. Weight lifting will compress bones, making them more dense and will make you shorter in the long run.

While there's been some success in getting chondrocytes to grow cartilage in vitro, there has yet to be significant gains in vivo, thus there aren't any medications available that would cause growth.

The only widely practiced way of gaining height after adulthood is with very painful surgery that involves a lot of braces. The bones are systematically broken, held in place, and allowed to heal. The setup looks like this:

While we get closer and closer to being able to control such things every day, for the time being (and I wouldn't count on this changing anytime soon) everybody is stuck with the height they were genetically programmed with.

As an aside: Being tall isn't all it's cracked up to be. At ~197cm I can tell you it is hell finding pants that fit.

How to Increase Height After 21

Some people are bothered by the fact that they are shorter. It is widely believed that by the age of 21 it is not possible to gain additional height, and you must make do with whatever amount of growth your body has already managed, but this is not necessarily true. In some cases it is possible to add to your height after you have reached the age of 21, both naturally and with a doctor's assistance.

Can You Grow Taller After the Age of 21?

There are two main factors that determine how tall you will grow. A majority, 60-80 percent, of your height is determined by your genetics while 20-40 percent of your height is determined by your environment. Nutrition is the largest contributor in your environment that contributes to your height.

Genetic Contribution

Within genetic contributions, there is a great deal of variation that needs to be considered when evaluating height. In most cases, men are taller than women. There is also a great deal of variety between different ethnic groups which will play a factor in how tall a person is likely to become. Parental height also plays a large factor in how tall a person is likely to become. Of course, recessive height genes can also play a factor in the height of children so this is not a foolproof standard for how tall a child is likely to become.

Environment Contribution

4-5 cm of height can be determined by nutrition during the growing phase. The body requires certain nutrients such as protein, calcium, vitamin D and others to produce the muscle and bone necessary to allow the body to reach its maximum height. Girls usually have this spurt in their mid-teens while boys go through this change a few years later.

Do I Stop Growing?

There is no specific set age where growing will stop, but rather growing will stop when the growth plates located in areas such as the knees or wrists around the bones close. Growth hormones trigger these plates and cause them to start producing additional structure at regular intervals as the body develops. Around age 21 the production of this hormone slows down and will eventually stop, causing the growth plates to close.

How to Grow Taller after 21

If your growth plates have not yet closed, you can stimulate the growth hormones in your body to gain more height.

Rest Well

One of the best ways to do this naturally is to get more sleep, which helps facilitate the proper conditions for growing. Taking hot showers and getting a lot of exercise can also create the conditions which can help you develop these hormones. In some cases, doctors can also supply you with growth hormone treatments that can be taken to help stimulate growth if it is appropriate.

Healthy Eating Habits

Eating on a regular schedule and getting the proper nutrients into your system is essential to allowing your body to add healthy mass. Eat foods rich in calcium, vitamin D, protein, and zinc so that your body has everything it needs to build more bone and muscle. You may also want to add additional vitamin C to your diet to boost your immune system as some illnesses can diminish your height. You will also need to avoid smoking or drinking alcohol as these substances can also diminish your height.

Keep Good Posture

Gaining height after the growth plates have been closed is more difficult, but still possible. Practicing good posture can help maximize the height you have so you look taller and leaner. In some cases, performing spine stretching exercises can also help you gain an additional inch or two of height if practiced regularly.


In some cases, surgical procedures can be done to help add length to the legs to make you taller. These procedures are performed by breaking the legs and stretching them apart, forcing the body to create more bone when they heal. Sometimes, bolts are also added to the bones to help maintain this new size with the right amount of support. These procedures can be quite labor intensive and are only recommended to those who have serious difficulties stemming from their short stature.

Status Shoes

How to grow taller after 21? While this is not a permanent solution, people can wear "status shoes" to add height to their appearance. These shoes contain lifts with large insoles that add extra height without making it obvious. Sometimes this footwear can add 1-3 inches of height to the wearer.


I've heard the same, but I never really cared about it, I just went with it. Growth is one of those biological things that can be affected by so many different factors, but most often genetics. However, when someone is young (as in infant or child) and their bones are still growing, it can be manipulated.

After my initial growth spurt as a teenager, I was 5' 9 1/4" (175.895 cm) for the longest time. I finally grew 3/4" (1.905 cm) in my early 20's and have stopped at 5' 10" (177 cm). But the thing is, the spine compresses when you're up and go about your business because gravity, and decompresses when your laying horizontally when discs between the vertebrae have an opportunity to even out. So your height can fluctuate all the time. I measured this on myself one time.

Droopy shoulders can affect posture, which can give the illusion of height, so you would want to focus on back muscles to help maintain posture, especially your erector spinae muscles, they run the length of your back and are best targeted by Supermen exercises. But any exercises that target your back and core would help. Yoga could help align things and strengthen things. But there isn't really anything natural one can do to force vertical growth, unless there is a study I don't know about.

Can I Still Grow Taller ?

I'm 16 and 1.59m (5.2ft), So basically I'm quiet short I did this kind of test in year 7 and the doctors told me that I would reach 1.65m (5.5) but I didn't ( I really want to get taller at least another 3 inches but don't know how ? I've heard that girls can grow up until 21 so I actually have time, right? Can anyone tell me how I can grow taller naturally, please, please, please because I don't want to stay this short

Not what you're looking for? Try&hellip

Talk to a giraffe. I'm sure he'll give you some tips

I'm also quite short so I know how you feel, but there's not really anything you can do unless you want to pay thousands of pounds for medical treatment that will probably only cause you to grow a few cms.

Look on the bright side - females can wear heels to make themselves taller, and I don't think being short is as bad for a woman as it can be for a man, in terms of social perception, so really it's not that bad. Plus 5'2 is hardly tiny, just a little less than average.

At 5'2" you're only about 2 inches shorter than the female average, so it's really not as bad as you may think.

It's possible you have some more growing to do but women in general stop growing a few years earlier than men, so I wouldn't get your hopes up. The best thing you can do is learn to love the way you are and remember it could be worse, you don't have to worry about towering over people or being taller than a potential boyfriend.

(Original post by Sara Marzi)
I'm 16 and 1.59m (5.2ft), So basically I'm quiet short I did this kind of test in year 7 and the doctors told me that I would reach 1.65m (5.5) but I didn't ( I really want to get taller at least another 3 inches but don't know how ? I've heard that girls can grow up until 21 so I actually have time, right? Can anyone tell me how I can grow taller naturally, please, please, please because I don't want to stay this short

You normally don't stop growing in height till about this age, so you heard right

I went from 6'2" to 6'6" between 15 and 17, so yeah, you can

How tall are your parents though? Because this could be another important factor.

(Original post by RyJ)
You normally don't stop growing in height till about this age, so you heard right

I went from 6'2" to 6'6" between 15 and 17, so yeah, you can

How tall are your parents though? Because this could be another important factor.

My Mum is the same height as me and my dad is 1.75m (5.9ft) so I should be somewhere in the middle around 5.4 but I'm only 5.2 :'( I really want to grow another 2-3 inches, I'm being called short a lot lately and my cousin who is only 13 has grown taller than me but her parents ain't even that tall />?! />

Stand in a bag of compost, water yourself twice a day, and get plenty of sunlight.

Seriously, 5'2 is only a bit shorter than the average. Anyway, short girls are cute.

At 16 it's entirely possible that you will grow some more, though probably not by much.

Girls tend to get their real growth earlier than boys and therefore stop earlier. so by your age I'd largely stopped growing but my brother is 17 and is till growing.

I've got a bit taller since I stopped growing (about an inch over 3 or 4 years probably) and my mother actually grew an inch very suddenly when she was about 20, well after she thought she'd stopped growing so it's entirely possible.

However if your family aren't very tall then it may be that your height is what's natural for you. And I wouldn't worry about, being smaller isn't such a big deal for girls and you'll never have to worry about looking like a giraffe in heels or if said heels will make you taller than your boyfriend (which is my problem as I'm 5'7.5" and he's just 5'10")

Is It Possible To Increase Your Height?

How can you increase your height? originally appeared on Quora: the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

A primer on your height & what you can do about it:

Your height is determined between 60%-85% by your genetics. The remainder of that is environmental, primarily nutrition [1]. If you're malnourished during your growing years you won't reach your full potential. If you get enough nutrition you'll likely reach your genetically predetermined height, possibly a little taller.

There is some indication that getting enough protein through your developmental years can add to your height positively. In Japan after the war, the population had access to more fish protein and the average height of the country increased three inches [2]. Denmark has become one of the tallest countries in the world, and its rise in height is strongly correlated to its wealth per capita [3]. The most likely takeaway here is that people who can afford to eat, and eat well, will be taller over generations. It’s easy to make this connection between these two long term correlations. Nutrition can slowly cause an increase in height between generations. It's no guarantee that you'll be taller through eating, but proper nutrition through your formative years can add a bit onto your genetics. A good, balanced diet of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates (eat food, not too much, mostly plants) and you'll do fine.

They've been doing some research on fraternal twins to try to determine what the specific gene is that determines height. The reason that they're looking at fraternal twins rather than identical twins is that their exact DNA is different but most of the environmental factors are the same (what the mother ate while they were pregnant, probably how they were treated after they were born, etc). They can then compare the genomes of the twins after they reach their height and see what is different between them. They do this for thousands of fraternal twin pairs to determine which parts of their genomes are different. As of writing this they think it's partly in the X chromosome and chromosomes 7, 8, and 20. Scientists haven't narrowed it down entirely, as genes are pretty complex and it's not as simple as it's explained in your general science classes with recessive genes and dominant genes [4].

As you grow up, your bones get longer. Everyone has Epiphyseal plates at the ends of their bones. As you grow, these plates are added onto. When you go through growth spurts, particularly puberty, they are added onto rather quickly. Some people experience growing pains in their bones as they expand. When you're done growing (mostly by the time you're 18-25), your bones ossify , the epiphyseal plates seal themselves, and you stop growing taller and longer. At that point you're done. No more growing. That's it.

How do I know if my Epiphyseal plates have sealed?

When looking at an x-ray of your limbs, look for the line between the diaphysis (shaft of the long bone) and epiphysis (rounded articulation/ where the joint lies). Here is a picture of the epiphyseal plates of the distal tibia and fibula in an ankle:

You can easily see the dark line above both "ankles" or malleoli. These are the epiphyseal plates you are looking for. Here is a picture when the "growth plates" are "sealed":

You can see the white line on both sides of the knee, known as an epiphyseal scar. The white line means the area is more dense, whereas the dark line from before means it is the less dense, growing cartilaginous tissue. If the white line exists, it means the epiphyseal plate has "closed" and no additional bone will grow from the cartilage.

Your height actually decreases slightly through the day. In between your spinal discs there are fluid sacs. When you stand up, your head and shoulders put axial pressure on your spine and cause these sacs to compress. You can shrink by as much as 1% of your height this way (this will not accumulate beyond 1%, 1% is the most you will lose, even by standing up for a month straight) .

Simply lying down will allow them to expand again.

This isn't a big deal, though there are several sites out there than claim otherwise and claim that they can create extra space between your spinal bones. Additionally, there are claims that stretching and hanging can increase your height. This is a quarter true. Hanging and stretching can reverse the compression, making you slightly taller until your spine compresses again. Spinal compression can reduce your height temporarily by 1%. In tall people this can be as much as a half inch. Stretching and hanging and lying down can restore this 1%, but won't make you taller [5].

For this same reason, astronauts can be as much as 2" taller in space. There's not enough gravity putting axial pressure against their spine to compress it. Additionally, the fluid pressure in the sacs can exceed any forces pressing against them allowing astronauts to expand past that 1%. When they come back to earth, they return to their normal height over the course of months [6].

Your height and sports

Because of the growth plates, and the fact that your spine can compress, people got the idea that weightlifting and high impact sports could cause you to not grow as much. They're not quite right. There has been no evidence that weightlifting can stop your growth [7]. The origins of weightlifting being a thing that stunted your growth came from a couple of places, most recently a 1970s study of Japanese child laborers. The children that did work all day ended up shorter than average [8]. The truth behind the stunted growth is, of course, malnutrition. Child laborers worked long hours and didn't make much money, not nearly enough to feed themselves well.

Another reason people used to think weightlifting was bad for children was they didn't develop muscles like you do as an adult. Children don't have enough hormones yet for muscles to develop properly, but what weightlifting can do for them is put stress on the bones, encouraging them to grow as well as help them develop their central nervous system, allowing pathways to be created for them to do more work as they go into adulthood. A lot of lifting weights is in the head.

Recent studies have shown that weight lifting at any young age can help build bones and stave off obesity for children leading into their adulthood. Weight lifting at a young age has also been shown to prevent injuries and osteoporosis into old age.

Sports have a tendency to self select. I've seen so many questions: Can basketball make me taller? Can swimming make me taller? These questions are based on the fact that professional baseball players are tall and well known swimmers are tall. The well known players are tall because being tall gives them a distinct advantage in these sports. I swam for fifteen years, all through my growing years. I'm 5'7". It doesn't work like that. Further, basketball is pretty high impact. Short sprints, stops, starts, jumps. If someone thought weight lifting would stunt your growth, basketball would too for the same reasons. Every time you jump, you put several times your body weight against your muscles and bones. Much more than you would be weightlifting at that age. The same thing goes with gymnasts. They're not short because the sport makes them short, they're short because it's easier to be a great gymnast when you're short. [9]

But it's not quite as simple as that, either. Studies on female gymnasts revealed that in their youth, they show slowed height growth, primarily in their legs. When they stop doing gymnastics, they are able to reach their full potential. Gymnasts who start young have decreased bone age compared to people who start later, when they quit, their spine height and legs grow more and fully catch up to where they are predicted to be based on genetics within eight years of quitting. Men did not experience this at all. Through out their entire growth within the sport, they don't suffer from abnormal bone ages or strange growth patterns and actually end up being as tall as they should be based on genetics even while continuing the sport [10]. The gymnasts they analyzed reached their full genetic height under the conditions analyzed. Most of them were actually just supposed to be short, their parents were short. It's mainly a correlative link between the sport and the height, possibly connected to nutrition.

Several other studies relating to particular sports (ballet, wrestling, distance running) link to height issues. These sports, along with gymnastics, particularly for females, have rigorous training requirements limiting the time children have to eat. Additionally, the sports themselves put particular demands on the participants weight [11]. It's likely these growth impediments are due more to nutritional deficits rather than something intrinsic to the sport.

Studies performed on swimmers, gymnasts, and tennis players also support the correlation to height but not causation because the participants are actually reaching their appropriate height, not exceeding it. As far as the sport goes, they're just self-selected for their height.

Sleep During Development

There have been a few studies that I was able to find relating to sleep patterns and growth. It's well known that when you sleep your body releases all sorts of hormones and most of your growth and recovery happens at this time [12]. One would think that a lack of sleep would cause stunted growth.

For children aged 5-11 and 1-10 there were a couple studies done. One found a very weak negative correlation between sleep time and height. In neither study did the researchers conclude that the correlation was significant enough to say that sleep correlated with height growth at this age [13] [14].

Other studies involving interviews over a couple of years with adolescents found that sleep problems were correlated with lower "puberty scores" (that tracks their development to adult-hood). However, an association between height and sleep wasn't noticed, but the researchers noted that more needed to be done [note: I could be reading that wrong, It's possible it wasn't tracked at all if someone knows better, let me know] [15].

Finally, and much more indicative of likely issues, a study performed on children diagnosed with sleep apnea showed their height was affected negatively by the apnea condition [16].

Based on this research it looks like there could be an issue related to height growth and a significant lack of sleep. In any case, based on the overall benefits of sleep, I'd recommend not skimping on sleep during your growth years, and getting checked out for apnea if you have noticed any of the symptoms.

Myths Concerning Growing Taller and Stunted Growth

There are tons of old wives' tales out there about strategies for growing taller. They might not all hurt you, but they sure won't help. If anyone has any studies that back up any of these strategies, I'd gladly move them from my myths section to my realities section:

  • Skipping. How this is a thing I have no idea, particularly when you look at the myths (and realities) laid out earlier about gymnastics and weightlifting. If weightlifting makes you short (myth) and gymnastics makes you short (partially true, as detailed above), how would skipping (relatively high impact asymmetric leaping from one foot to the other) make you taller?
  • Sports like: Swimming, basketball, cycling, any others, making you taller, dispelled above. They're amazing activities and can help you grow stronger, faster, smarter, and build teamwork and leadership skills, but they won't make you taller.
  • Stretching and yoga. Things like "Growing Tall for Idiots". They can help your posture, but as you're growing they won't add inches, they'll just help you express your height.
  • Hanging exercises. They'll decompress your spinal disks allowing you to gain as much as a half inch in the middle of the day, but the gains will only last a few hours.
  • Salt in your shoes.
  • Praying and wishful thinking. They might make you feel better, but you won't get taller as a result.
  • Miracle pills -- things like Ayurvedic Urea, Ayurvedic "Step Up." Snake oil is a unsubstantiated claim applied to medicines and supplements. Even actual Ayurvedic practitioners will tell you that there is nothing in any Ayurvedic textbook on height increase. All height increase supplements are snake oil.
  • Particular diets and foods (milk, etc) will make you taller. While eating enough is essential to realizing your full potential, there's no evidence that any particular food will have more effect than anything else. There's also no evidence that other animal's growth hormones (like trace amounts of bovine growth hormone in milk) will help you grow taller or stronger. The only diet you need is one that contains a good balance of carbs, proteins, fats, and contains all the vitamins and minerals you need.
  • Particular foods willstunt your growth. There is NO evidence that coffee stunts your growth [17]. Diet Coke does not stunt your growth [18]. The major problems with diet drinks and coffee are that they contain very little in the way of nutrients and can fill up a kid's stomach. Plus, caffeine can be used as an appetite suppressant. All of this adds up to a child not getting enough nutrients. Sodas aren't great because they're packed with sugar. While you need sugar, you don't need the amount a couple sodas give you, and you need other nutrients just as much: proteins, fats, vitamins and electrolytes like potassium and calcium. I kept my kids away from these drinks to keep their appetite going so they have enough room to eat.
  • That particular activities like weight lifting will stunt your growth, as mentioned above.
  • Exercise releases HGH that will help you grow. Studies on this phenomenon have shown that HGH release through exercise only has an effect on the localized areas that are exercised. Lifting legs releases much more GH than lifting arms. If you work legs and arms in the same day, it will not make your arms stronger than if you lift your arms by themselves even though your body is coursing with GH [19]. There is no reason to think that your height will be affected by GH released through exercise for that reason and there is no evidence to back up that claim. Exercise and weight lifting during puberty is a great thing, it could possibly set you up to be much stronger and healthier throughout your life. just not taller.

What can actually be done about your height?

There are few things that can be done, and most of these treatments are only responsibly given in cases of abnormalities. As stated above, the best thing you can do is strive to be as tall as you can naturally be by eating properly through your childhood. As mentioned above, by eating a balanced diet with plenty of protein, carbs, and fat, you may be able to exceed genetic expectations by a small amount -- possibly more over several generations of proper eating. Exercise and sports can be helpful in keeping you healthy and generating strong bones, but in the end it won't make you taller than your genes say you will be.

Occasionally, there comes along a case where a child is short inexplicably. When you bring a short kid into see the doctor, they'll eliminate diet first. Most of the time if the child isn't eating right and then they start eating properly, they'll shoot right up. In some cases, the kid is eating right, but they just aren't growing. To qualify for these cases you usually have to be in the bottom 3rd percentile of your age but you should be higher, based on genetic predictors. In those cases HGH treatments have shown that they can grow over 9 centimeters over the adjusted predictions [20]. If this is the case for you, see a doctor and ask them about it. They'll usually do tests to determine if your body isn't generating enough hormones. If it is generating enough, a responsible doctor won't give you more. It's not safe to mess around with the endocrine system. Too much of different hormones introduced artificially can make glands stop producing normally and shrink.

There are a number of conditions that can make you appear shorter.

Getting these conditions diagnosed and treated can add several inches to your effective height, making you appear the height that you are.

Additionally, a lot of people experience bad posture. Later in life you won't grow taller, but if you get in the gym, start being active, and focus on standing up straight and tall you can fully express your height. There's no special exercise you need to do (back exercises can help like Straight Leg Dead Lifts) but it's more a focus on being active and standing tall.

  • Keep your head level, looking forward, not up or down.
  • Chest out
  • Shoulder blades back and tucked down, like you're trying to make your neck longer
  • Slightly flexed abs for support
  • Pelvic floor neutral

There is a controversial, expensive, painful, high risk surgery with a very long recovery time called distraction osteogenesis . They break your tibia and fibula then affix a device to keep them separated.

While this is taking place, you cannot put weight on your bone and you have to undergo 1-2 hours of physical therapy daily to keep the bones from getting stiff. This process can take months to complete. After the new bone is formed there is another 6 months strengthening time period where you need to carefully strengthen the bone without the lengthening device. The entire process can take as long as 2 years. Even after all that there are dozens of complications:

  • The new bone may not form solidly and there's a good chance of breakage within 2-3 months.
  • The new bone may not form in the proper angle.
  • You might not grow the expected 2-3 inches.
  • Your leg lengths may not be even afterwards.
  • An infection can be catastrophic.
  • Nerve damage could cause you to lose the leg entirely.

Usually the only time they do this surgery is to correct cases where one leg is significantly shorter than the other. Because of the recovery process, any credible doctor will have the patient go through a psych evaluation prior to the surgery to validate that they can handle the recovery process. Personally, it sounds dangerous, risky, and pointless [21].

There are a few strategies to help you appear to be taller as well.

Shoes: Wear shoes with bigger heels. At certain point you could be pushing the bounds of traditional fashion, but if you feel like you can rock it, by all means:

You can get insoles called risers that can make a normal shoe act like high heels and push you up without having anything look different externally.

Combine the two and you could add several inches.

Clothes that fit: When you wear clothes that actually fit you, it can make you appear longer than normal, particularly skinny jeans and shirts that aren’t baggy.

Working out: You don’t need to get massive or muscular and you don’t need to get super skinny. Keeping your body fat down can contribute to your looking lean (not to mention being and looking healthy). Getting your body down below 20% body fat for a man should be a goal for both health and looking good. At this point clothes will fit better and give you longer lines.

Wear horizontal stripes: This one’s a little counterintuitive, but it’s been backed up by science [ What Makes You Look Fat: Vertical or Horizontal Lines? ]

Horizontal stripes actually make you look thinner and taller than vertical ones.

Taller hair: Putting your hair in a more vertical alignment will make your face look longer helping give the impression of height.

Exude confidence: Easier said than done, but a self-confident person always appears larger than they actually are.

When all else fails: Get some painting stilts.

Finally, in contradiction to everything I said above, there are some people who have conditions like a tumor affecting their pituitary gland which controls certain growth hormones. They often experience uncontrollable growth.

Before you start researching how you can give yourself a pituitary tumor, people afflicted with this after puberty will see their hands and feet grow continuously along with their skin thicken, soft tissues grow and organs increase in size. It's not a pleasant condition [22].

Height is not everything

In closing, there's nothing wrong with being short. Some of the most powerful men in the world have been short. Your height doesn't make you a better person, it doesn't make you more attractive or less attractive, at least to people that matter. What matters more than anything else is how you project yourself. The more confident you are, the more you can accomplish and that has nothing to do with your height.

Make the most of who you are. It doesn't matter if people physically look down on you right now if you can make your mark on history.

Increasing Your Height After 18 – Is It Possible?

Fact #1. Can You Really Increase Your Height After 18?

Most people attain their final adult height at 18. Increasing your height after 18 is not possible, even through nutrition and exercise, because the growth plates stop growing.

The growth plates (epiphyseal plates) are present at the end of long bones. The growth plates proliferate to add cartilage, which gets calcified, degraded, and replaced by bone tissue to add height or inches to your growth (1), (2).

However, some people may continue growing until the age of 20 (3), (4).

Why do some people grow taller than the rest? What are the factors that determine height? Here’s what we found.

Fact #2. Factors That Determine Your Height

There are many factors that determine your height:

According to Genetics Home Research (NIH, USA), 80% of your height is determined by the DNA sequence (or genes) you inherited. The action of many genes (about 50) plays a role in determining your growth (5), (6).

A few examples of these genes are FGFR3, GH1, FBN1, GPC3, and EVC. A single mutation in one of these genes may hinder your growth.

Moreover, your hormones can also affect your growth. Let’s find out how.

The three main hormones that affect height are:

Deficiency in the growth or thyroid hormones may stop growth at an early age.

The sex hormones also play a major role as they affect the growth of boys and girls during puberty. Read more about it in the next section.

Note: Interestingly, your hormones are also determined by the genes you carry and if they are functional at the right time.

Puberty hits boys at around 11-12 years and girls at 9-10 years (7). Pubertal growth occurs in different phases – growth acceleration and then deceleration.

In the acceleration phase, the increase in height occurs by the activation of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and gonadal glands. This growth is termed as “adolescent growth spurt” or “take-off” phase for growth in terms of height and sexual maturity (8).

Growth continues during puberty as boys and girls hit the Peak Height Velocity (PHV) phase. It is the phase in which the increase in height is maximum. The average age for boys to hit PHV is 13.5 years, and for girls is 11.5 years (9). PHV is highest in early-maturing children than in late-maturing ones. Here’s a table for a better understanding.

Age fo take-off(growth)Age of Peak GVPeak GVDurationTotal height gain
Normal puberty males8-13 years (11 years)13.5 years9.5 cm/y3 years30.5 cm
Normal puberty females9-14 years(9 years)11.5 years8.3 cm/y2.5 years28.5 cm
Early pubertyEarlyEarlyHigherLongerMore gain
Late pubertyLateLateLess+LessLess gain
Obesity (girls)EarlyEarlyLess+LessLess gain
Severe under-nutritionLateLateLessLonger+Same
Chronic dieases: Chronic renal
failure, cystic fibrosis, crohn’s
disease, thalassemia major
LateLateLessNormal or
Less gain
Athletes*Normal or delayedNormal or delayedNormalNormalNormal
Intenseive training
with energy
DelayedDelayedLessNormal or
Less gain

What you eat during your growing age and physical activity also help determine your final height. Nutritional Growth Retardation is a condition in which a child’s cells start to compensate for the lack of nutrition with slowed growth (10).

Nutrition during pregnancy also affects the child’s height. Taking iron, iodine, folate, and calcium supplements may help improve the child’s adult height (11).

Along with nutrition, exercising and being physically active from early childhood also helps build better bone density, prevents the onset of osteoporosis, and improves height (12), (13), (14).

You must keep in mind that excessive exercising may also cause stunted growth. The mechanical stress caused due over-exercising causes the nutrition you take to be used up for compensating cellular and metabolic needs (15).

It seems unlikely, but the environment you grow up may also affect your height. Of course, genes are the major players, but so are your social background, geographical location, pollution, economic status, and disease exposure (16), (17), (18), (19).

These are the major factors that determine the final height. But let me reiterate a few points. Scroll down.

Fact #3. Nutrition Helps Before 18

Yes, eating good, healthy food helps. But, before 18. That does not mean you don’t need to eat well post 18. But if you want to increase your height, it is crucial to eat right.

Fact #4. Exercising Is Important, Even After You Turn 18

Yes, exercising and staying active always helps. Of course, after 20 years, exercising might not help you gain height, but it will help you build lean muscle mass, healthier bones, and better mental health.

Apart from nutrition and exercise, your lifestyle also determines your height. But what kind of lifestyle should you be following? Find out next.

Fact #5. Lifestyle Change Is A Must

An active lifestyle is the best. From as early as 4 years, staying active is the key to not just growing tall but also living a disease-free life. Running, jumping, pull-ups, cycling, playing basketball, football, and swimming are the best exercises.

Also, take a break from your schedule. Of course, you have exams to pass and other dreams and ambitions to pursue, but the piling pressure only increases stress. Stress is bad for your physical and mental health. Seek help from a professional if you need to.

During the growing stage, it is also important to get at least 7 hours of sleep. Sleeping helps rejuvenate the cells, boost immunity, and reduce stress.

The revelation of all these points got me to the next question. Is the “taller is better” notion just a myth? Here’s the obvious answer.

Fact #6. The Taller, The Better – It Is Just A Myth

Yes, taller is not always better. Look at Peter Dinklage (4’5”) of Game of Thrones fame. What an actor! What has height got to do with any of that flawless acting?

Many other examples include Kate Moss (5’6”), Ariana Grande (5’1”), Jack Ma (5’5”), and the shortest boxer, four-time world champion, Jacob Matlala (4′ 10”).

You must know at least one person in your life who is not tall, but that does not deter them from being the fierce, go-getter that they are.

Fact #7. Accept Yourself Before Others Do

Adjust your sails according to the wind. Accept yourself as you are. Not that you should give up easily when you still have time to increase your height. But knowing when to give up and set sail for things that will define you and improve the quality of your life is also important. Do not let your height define how you feel about yourself. Trust me, there a million other ways to make your mark. Just look in the right place!

The question, however, still remains. How to increase your height, especially if you are over 20 and have stopped growing? Well, you cannot increase your height. But you can create an illusion of height. Here are a few tips to appear taller.

Growth Plate Injuries

When we think of growing bones, most of us have the idea that they grow out from the middle of the bone. But, it is the growth plates that help the long bones of the legs and arms to grow at either end of these bones. These growth plates produce new bone tissue for the growth of long bones and this is what determines the final length and shape of bones in an adult individual.

An injured growth plate fails to do its job properly, which can result in crooked or misshapen bones, very short limbs, or it can even cause arthritis. But fortunately, these happenings are very rare. Diagnosing this at the right time and proper treatment, growth plate injuries in children can be recovered without any further long-term consequences. [3]

Can You Grow Taller After the Age of 21?

As we are growing up we often hope that we’ll eventually grow to become taller than our class mates and will settle at somewhere in the upper-average region. Some of us start off short and then get a burst of growth where we end up taller than everyone we know, while others of us start of tall but then sort of plateau and do not get any taller. Of course others will stay consistent, growing at about average rate until the end. At this point then it is anybody’s guess who’ll end up the giants and who’ll get short changes.

Once we reach about the age of 20, most of us consider ourselves all grown-out, and at this point it can be frustrating if we didn’t reach the kind of height we were hoping for. It is a fact that taller people are more likely to earn higher salaries, be more attractive to the opposite sex, and reach things off the top shelf… So the question is, can you continue growing past the age of 21, and how can you facilitate this growth if so?

Many people claim that you can continue to grow past the age of 21 with the range of ages growth is thought to end spanning all the way to 27. Others meanwhile believe that we can not grow past the age of 17. This is because the truth is actually more complicated and there is no ‘set age’ where we all stop growing. Instead we stop growing at the age that our growth plates close, and this changes from individual to individual, presumably determined genetically.

Growth plates are the bones in your joints which facilitate growth and are located in your wrists and knees etc. When we sleep our body produces growth hormone which causes us to grow more, but it is through our growth plates that this occurs. When they close then, usually around the age of 21, it means we no longer use the growth hormone in that way.

If you are 21 then and you are not happy with your height, it does not necessarily mean that you should give up as there will still be a chance that your growth plates haven’t closed (only an x-ray can tell you this). The best way then to improve your growth during this point is to increase the amount of growth hormone in your body by getting more sleep, and also by taking hot showers and exercising which also results in more growth hormone. As these are recommended for your general health and well being anyway it certainly does not hurt to try and get more rest and exercise. If you are short enough that it creates problems in your daily life, then speak to a doctor and they might be able to test your growth plates and supply you with growth hormone.

If your growth plates have already closed then there is little you can do to increase your height. Some claim that you can add up to an inch by stretching your spine, and from improving your posture. Interestingly we tend to measure as taller first thing in the morning due to our spine becoming depressed throughout the day lending credence to this idea. However the amount of growth you can expect is very marginal, particularly considering the amount of work involved in stretching your spine and performing such exercises.

Another option is a temporary one, but perhaps the best idea for anyone who is unhappy with their height, and this is to wear ‘status shoes’ or insoles designed to offer extra height. This way you will become taller when you put on those shoes meaning that you will be guaranteed one to three inches in extra height for interviews, dates, or whenever you go outside if you so wish.

Failing all this, if your height is a serious problem that affects your confidence and lifestyle, then there surgical procedures available that can increase the length of your legs by breaking them and pulling them apart so that they heal between the gaps. This however is a very painful procedure that requires you to endure broken legs and bolts drilled into your bones for months or years. The real best solution to the problem then, is simply to value the benefits of being slightly shorter and to come to terms with your natural height.

Can adults grow taller?

Some people are unhappy with their height and wish they could be taller. Unfortunately for most adults, there is not much that can be done to increase height.

After age 18, most tricks to increase height will not work, even with good nutrition and exercise

However, there are ways to appear taller and prevent loss of height, which is common as people age.

Share on Pinterest Height may be accounted for by genetics.

Height is determined by a range of factors, including:

  • genetics
  • sex
  • certain medical conditions
  • nutrition
  • exercise

Genetics account for the majority of a person’s height. Studies on fraternal twins show that the biggest factor in determining a person’s body type is heredity.

Quite simply, if a person’s parents are tall, it is more likely that the person will also be tall. If a person’s parents are short, it is much more likely that the person will be short as well.

Sex is another biologic factor that plays a role in determining a person’s total height. Women tend to have less total height potential than men.

Certain medical conditions can also play a role in determining a person’s height. The following conditions can change the way a person grows during childhood:

  • gigantism
  • untreated celiac disease
  • any condition requiring the prolonged use of steroids
  • Down Syndrome
  • Turner Syndrome
  • Marfan Syndrome

Nutrition also impacts a person’s potential for height. Getting good nutrition that includes dietary sources of vitamins and minerals helps people grow. Conversely, individuals who do not get adequate nutrition may not grow as tall.

Studies have found that as nutrition has improved over time, people have gotten taller. So, children that eat a diet rich in calcium, protein, and other nutrients will be able to maximize their potential for growth.

Physical activity also plays a role in childhood growth and height, as being active promotes the release of the growth hormone. When this hormone is released, a child with open growth plates in their bones may experience more growth than they would if not physically active.

However, once the growth plates in the bones close, a person will generally not grow any taller. Most females reach their full adult height between the ages of 14 and 15. Most males reach their full height by age 16. It is very unusual for a person to grow after age 19.

While there is nothing that can be done to increase a person’s height after the growth plates in the bones have closed, there are ways to look taller. These include the following:

Practicing good posture

Not only does standing and sitting with good posture make people look taller, but it helps prevent headaches and back pain that often accompany slouching.

To stand with good posture, a person should follow these tips:

  • keep the shoulders back
  • pull the belly towards the spine, with the muscles lightly engaged
  • keep the head level and in line with the body
  • place the feet shoulder width apart
  • avoid locking the knees
  • keep the weight primarily on the balls of the feet
  • let the arms hang naturally at the sides

To practice good sitting posture, a person should do the following:

  • keep feet flat on the floor while sitting
  • adjust the chair height, so thighs stay parallel to the floor while seated with feet on the floor
  • avoid crossing the legs
  • support the back using a small pillow or towel
  • let shoulders rest comfortably

Maintaining good posture helps keep the proper space between the vertebra and may make a person look taller and longer.

Strengthen the core muscles

A strong midsection can help a person maintain good posture and look taller. The core muscles are the muscles in the abdomen and along the spinal column.

These muscles help support the spine. When these muscles are too weak, the spine is not properly supported and may get compressed. It can also lead to slouching.

To get stronger core muscles, a person can try the following exercises:

  • Plank: Keeping abdominal muscles engaged, hold the position at the top of a push-up.
  • Superman: Laying on the stomach, extend the arms, legs, and head off the floor and hold.
  • Abdominal crunch: Laying on the back with knees bent and feet on the floor, raise the head and shoulders using the core muscles.

While adults cannot do much to increase their height, they can take steps to avoid age-related loss of height.

After a person reaches the age of 40, they may lose as much as half an inch of height per decade due to osteoporosis, compression of the spine, and other reasons. This can add up to a significant loss of height over time.

To combat age-related shrinking, people can do the following:

  • maintain adequate nutrition, including getting plenty of calcium
  • do weight-bearing exercises regularly to combat muscle loss
  • stay properly hydrated
  • avoid cigarette smoking
  • get plenty of rest

No, an adult cannot increase their height after the growth plates close. However, there are plenty of ways a person can improve their posture to look taller.

Also, a person can take preventative measures against height loss as they age.

How Girls Can Maximize their Full Growth Potential

Maintaining a healthy diet during puberty is one of the best ways to reach optimal height before girls stop growing. Therefore, it’s important if you are a parent to help your children understand the importance of healthy food and nutrition. This can help boost your child’s growth during puberty and maintain good dietary habits in later life.

The Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that having a proper, well-balanced diet during infancy, childhood, and puberty is critical to healthy growth and proper development. The scientists found that girls who are overweight enter puberty earlier than those who have a healthy weight. During puberty, it’s essential to meet the increased nutritional needs of growing girls. 15

You can determine if your child is overweight by calculating body fat percentage and measuring body fat. For advice on what to do if you or your child is overweight, please read my article on the best and easiest ways to get rid of excess body fat.

To enjoy a healthy, balanced diet during puberty growth, the Johns Hopkins Medicine Center gives the following practical advice: 16

  • Have 3 meals a day
  • Eat fruit or vegetables for a healthy snack. .
  • Increase fiber intake by eating whole grains.
  • Limit the consumption of saturated fats.
  • Eat protein-rich foods that are low in fat. Some of the best sources of protein are chicken, fish, peas, and beans.

You may also be interested to read my article about the causes and dangers of early puberty as well as how to lower your children’s risk of early puberty in my article:Early Puberty – Causes, Dangers and Prevention