Some people constantly ask, “Why do we stop growing?” especially young individuals who are concerned about their height not reaching the desired level. Understanding the reasons and recognizing abnormal signs in your body can help you develop a better and more appropriate health care plan to improve your growth rate. Let’s explore each stage of height development and the key strategies to optimize growth potential together.
The average height growth rate during each stage
The growth rate of height varies during different stages of development:
Infancy (0 – 1 year):
The first 1000 days of life are considered the “golden” growth period for children, following the fetal stage. During the infant stage (0 – 1 year), a healthy child can add up to 25cm to their height. This increase accounts for about half of their body length at birth and represents the most significant height improvement in the child’s growth journey throughout 18 – 20 years.
Preschool Age (2 – 6 years):
Healthy two-year-olds can grow an additional 11 – 13cm, with specific numbers depending on gender and current care practices. From age 3, children typically stabilize their growth, adding around 5 – 7cm in height each year. During this stage, children start adapting to the preschool learning environment, which may lead to changes in their health status. Parents should pay attention to their care to enhance immunity and achieve optimal height growth.
Pre-Adolescence (7 – 12 years):
The ages 7 – 9 are a period when children establish a strong foundation for healthy growth during puberty. The average growth rate during these two years remains at about 5 – 7cm per year for both boys and girls. Afterward, boys typically start puberty around 10 – 11 years, and girls around 11 – 12 years. Girls may experience their peak height growth around 11 – 12 years, with an increase of approximately 8 – 12cm per year if properly cared for.
Adolescence (13 – 18 years):
This is the period of puberty for both boys and girls and marks a significant growth phase. Boys typically achieve their ideal growth rate around 13 – 15 years, with 8 – 15cm/year growth in cases of good health and proper care. Puberty ends around 15 years for girls and 17 years for boys. After reaching 18 years of age, individuals can continue to grow slightly, but the growth rate gradually slows down before coming to a halt. Some individuals, especially females, may stop growing by the age of 18.
Ages 18 – 20 and beyond are considered adulthood, and during this period, we generally do not grow any taller. In some cases, especially among males, there might be some additional growth after 18 years, but it usually stops by the age of 20. It’s extremely rare for anyone to continue growing taller after the age of 20. In adulthood, if you haven’t achieved your ideal height, you can only enhance your appearance through clever styling choices or by adjusting your posture, as natural growth potential is no longer available.
Factors that contribute to the cessation of height growth:
Typically, the rate of growth and changes in body stature are more pronounced in males compared to females. Males often experience a more prolonged period of height growth. They may continue to grow into their late adolescence, and in some cases, even into their early 20s. On the other hand, females tend to stop growing earlier, usually between the ages of 16 and 18.
Height continually increases from the fetal stage and continues for the first 18 – 20 years of life. Height growth stops when you reach a certain age, typically between 18 – 20 years old. Specifically, after the end of puberty, you may have an additional 2 – 3 years of growth, but the rate slows down gradually. Afterward, the bones begin to ossify, and height growth ceases, indicating a stabilized body stature.
The onset of puberty is also a determining factor in the conclusion of the growth process. In some cases, due to various reasons, individuals may experience early puberty, meaning they enter puberty before the age of 9. When puberty occurs early, there is a rapid growth phase over a short period of 1 – 3 years, followed by a gradual slowdown and eventual cessation of growth. Therefore, the cessation of growth in those who experience early puberty occurs sooner than normal, meaning they lose about 1 – 2 years of growth
Medical conditions or health issues such as diabetes, kidney disease, or endocrine disorders can affect physical development and hinder height growth. Additionally, conditions related to the bones, such as osteoporosis or low-grade joint inflammation, can impact height development by weakening bone structures.
Environment and Lifestyle:
Living environment, nutritional status, physical activity, sleep patterns, lifestyle habits, and more can directly influence our ability to increase in height. You may stop growing earlier than normal if you maintain an inadequate diet over an extended period. Factors like nutrient deficiency, lack of physical activity, staying up late, frequent consumption of unhealthy/stimulant-rich products, and living in a polluted environment are all reasons for stunted growth, even if you haven’t reached the age of 18 – 20.
History of Joint and Bone Injuries:
A history of joint and bone injuries can affect the timing of height growth cessation, depending on the severity and location of the injury. Some injuries can result in long-term issues or deformities in the joints, impacting overall physical development and causing early cessation of height growth compared to healthy individuals.
If you’ve experienced a severe bone injury, such as fractures in critical muscle and bone regions (lower leg, thigh, or spine), it can lead to slower or halted height growth. Joint injuries in ligaments or joint surgeries can affect joint functionality, reducing your ability to engage in physical activities, negatively impacting muscle and bone reinforcement, and leading to the cessation of height growth.
Signs to Recognize Height Growth Has Ceased:
No Change in Height:
The most telling sign that your height growth has stopped is when you realize you haven’t gotten any taller in the past 6 months or so. Regularly tracking your height every 6 – 12 months is essential throughout your growth journey to monitor growth rate and detect any abnormalities in your body. Check your current height and compare it to your height about 6 – 8 months ago; if there’s no change, it indicates you’ve stopped growing taller.
No Further Change in Arm/Leg Length:
Monitoring the size of your feet is another way to recognize when height growth has ceased. If the bone structure in your feet remains unchanged, it indicates that your bones have stopped elongating. Typically, during the teenage years, your shoe size should continue to change as your bones grow rapidly, resulting in various foot size changes.
In the adolescent growth stage, a person’s hands usually get longer and wider. When your hands no longer lengthen and don’t change in size, it may be a sign that your height has stopped growing.
Certain Body Parts Have Reached Peak Development:
- Menstrual cycles in females occur regularly each month with a consistent number of days.
- Full development of body hair, including facial hair in males, arm and leg hair, underarm hair, and pubic hair.
- Male voices have completed breaking.
- Females have achieved maximum breast size, firmness, and fullness. Breasts are no longer tender or itchy, as is typical during puberty.
- Genitalia have completed the developmental process, resembling those of an adult.
BMI (Body Mass Index) Remains Unchanged:
If your BMI remains stable for an extended period and falls below or above the normal range for your age and gender, it can also be a sign that you’ve stopped growing. You can consult with a doctor or healthcare specialist to monitor your growth and measure your height over time. If your development doesn’t align with your age and lifestyle, it may be a sign that you need to investigate the cessation of height growth.
Factors to Improve Height Quickly and Effectively:
Maintain a Proper Nutritional Diet:
To accelerate height growth, it’s crucial to maintain a balanced nutritional diet. Remember that protein is a key component in the process of cell growth and repair, including bone cells. Ensure an adequate daily intake of protein by consuming meat, fish, legumes, nuts, and dairy products. Additionally, calcium helps build and maintain strong bones, and vitamin D aids in calcium absorption. Dairy products, nuts, salmon, and leafy greens can provide the necessary calcium and vitamin D.
A nutritionally balanced diet for promoting height growth should also include essential minerals such as vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. In addition to having the right nutrients, it’s essential to consume the appropriate amount of calories according to the recommended daily intake for your age. Insufficient calorie intake can lead to insufficient energy for growth, while excessive calorie consumption can result in overweight issues that hinder height development.
Regular Exercise and Sports:
Regular exercise and sports activities help children and adolescents develop their bones and build muscle strength. Impact sports like basketball, swimming, badminton, and volleyball stimulate bone elongation and enhance the production of growth hormones. Additionally, you can opt for less strenuous exercises that still promote effective growth, such as running, cycling, jumping rope, swinging, or practicing yoga.
The key is to maintain a consistent exercise routine, ideally 3 – 5 days per week, and consider daily activity. Focus on exercises that target the muscles in the back and legs, as they can help improve posture and height development. If you’re not experienced in choosing or performing exercises, consult with a fitness expert to receive guidance on a suitable workout regimen tailored to your current physical condition.
Caring for Sleep Every Night:
Over 90% of bone development occurs during sleep because bones are relaxed and not subjected to any pressure. Ensure that you get enough sleep every night, ideally between 7 – 9 hours, and start your sleep schedule around 9 – 10 PM. This helps you achieve optimal growth hormone secretion during deep sleep, which typically occurs between 11 PM – 1 AM. Here are some tips for a good night’s sleep:
- Create a comfortable sleeping environment with a quiet and cool bedroom.
- Use a comfortable mattress and clean bedding with a certain level of firmness.
- Electronic screens such as mobile phones, tablets, and TVs emit blue light that stimulates the brain and reduces sleep quality. Limit the use of these devices at least one hour before bedtime.
- Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps improve your sleep cycle and supports better height development. However, allow your body some flexibility to make up for necessary sleep.
- Before going to bed, engage in relaxation activities like reading, dimming the lights, or listening to soothing music to help your body and mind relax.
- Avoid overeating or drinking too much water before bedtime to prevent disruptions in sleep.
Maintain Proper Posture:
Ensuring the health of your bones and joints is essential for the growth process. The best way to maintain strong bone and joint health is by adjusting your posture during everyday physical activities. This includes your posture when walking, standing, sitting, and lying down, as well as how you lift objects and engage in physical exercise. Here are some key points:
- Always keep your back straight when walking, standing, or sitting.
- If you’re sitting for studying, working, or using a computer at a desk, make sure the distance between your seat and the desk is appropriate. You can also use a chair with proper lumbar support to keep your back comfortable, and both feet should be firmly on the floor.
- Use a pillow of suitable height when sleeping, with a preference for lying flat on your back or on your side. You can also place a thin pillow under your knees when lying down.
- Avoid carrying heavy loads or using improper lifting techniques.
- Ensure that you exercise or play sports with proper technique to minimize the risk of injury.
Avoid Unhealthy Habits:
Your daily habits play a significant role in your growth potential. Eliminate the following habits if you want to optimize your growth:
- Smoking: Smoking not only harms overall health but also can slow down your growth due to nicotine inhibiting bone growth, especially in children and teenagers.
- Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol from drinks like beer and wine can have detrimental effects on the body, creating stress on the bones and potentially impeding height growth.
- Consuming Junk Food and Unhealthy Foods: Fast food and foods high in sugars and unhealthy fats can lead to nutrient deficiencies, poor weight gain, and hinder height growth.
- Mental Stress and Anxiety: Prolonged stress can affect growth by negatively impacting eating habits, nutrient absorption, sleep patterns, and physical activity.
- Poor Health Care Habits: Staying up too late, lack of exercise, and neglecting regular health check-ups can all contribute to declining health and hinder growth.
Use Height-Boosting Supplements:
If you are looking to improve your height and accelerate growth, consider using height-boosting supplements in addition to maintaining a healthy diet. These products can help ensure that you meet the necessary nutritional requirements for optimal growth. When using such supplements, it’s crucial to choose reputable brands to ensure safety and effectiveness. Many supplements are derived from natural sources and designed for easy absorption. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any supplements to determine what may be suitable for you.
Absolutely, it’s essential to monitor your growth and overall health regularly during the crucial period of height development. If you find that you are not achieving the expected height or growth rate, consulting with a healthcare professional is advisable. They can help identify any underlying issues or nutritional deficiencies and provide guidance on how to address them. Remember that everyone’s growth pattern is unique, and while there are general guidelines, individual factors can also play a significant role in your height development. Staying proactive about your health and well-being is key to optimizing your growth potential.