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.

  • $\begingroup$ This is probably not an on topic question as it is more of a personal medical question rather than broad biological question- read the posting guidelines and try a more broad rewording of the question (about variation in growth rates with age - i.e. "when do we stop growing and how much variation is there?") other wise someone will come along and close it. But to answer your question, yes you can still grow, I'm 23 and have only recently (seemingly) stopped. $\endgroup$
    – rg255
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ There's no normal way of getting 5cm at the age of 20. I'd say that you're more than fine, with 1.75 cm. The best thing to do is work on your posture. $\endgroup$
    – atmosx
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 14:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Edited question to better fit Bio.SE guidelines. $\endgroup$
    – MCM
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 14:50
  • $\begingroup$ Also, exercise promotes testosterone production and increased testosterone levels promotes growth - that probably partly explains my own late growth spurt (loss of asthma at 18, started sports, then grew 30cm in a year - most of which was in the first 3 months, if you want to know what growing pains feel like I am the one to ask!). $\endgroup$
    – rg255
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


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:

Elongation setup.

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.

  • $\begingroup$ I'd say the answer is Yes (but unlikely to be significant growth) given my own personal experience, the average may be 18 for men but there will be variance around that. A school friend stopped growing at 14, I stopped at 22. $\endgroup$
    – rg255
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ @rg255 - Sure, there's going to be variance in everything. However, I don't want to mislead, so I use the averages. Answering 'Yes' when you're talking about 10% of the population is misleading to me. $\endgroup$
    – MCM
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ this (cdc.gov/growthcharts/data/set1clinical/cj41c021.pdf) would certainly suggest I'm way outside of the averages - up until the age of 18 I was below the 5th percentile, now I'm above the 90th! Imagine what my growth line would look like on there. I hadn't realised there was so little variance so perhaps "no" is broadly the right answer, but there are some cases of growth right up to the age of 25 - it seems most stop about 2 years after the end of puberty which in men is marked by this event (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spermarche). $\endgroup$
    – rg255
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 15:43

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