The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

Hi! I'm turning 17 soon. I am 5'8 185 lbs. My shoe size is 9.5. My hands aren't that big, my fingers are kind of small. I have longer legs and my trunk is a bit smaller than others. I have a good amount of hair on my legs, arms, and genitals. I'm starting to get hair on my stomach and a very small amount on my chest, though I have some hair around the nipples. I have acne of my face still; it started at 13. I have facial hair, but if I grow it out it's not a full beard. My dad is 5'8 and my mom is 5'6.

I have a few questions:

  • My feet haven't grown since I was 14. They're narrow and a bit smaller than my dad's. Are they fully grown?
  • My hands are a bit smaller than others. Are they done growing?
  • Is there any possibly way I will reach to 5'10-5'11?
  • I started lifting when I was 14 did that affect my grow at all?
  • I eat and drink a lot of protein (not more that 50g) will this affect my growth or development?
  • What can I do to reach my maximum potential for my height? (I heard sprinting increases human growth hormones which increase height. Is this true?)
  • Is there any naturally stuff I can do to increase my height?

Thank you. I appreciate your help!


Answer

Most people don't understand how growth takes place and as a result they are susceptible to scams promising "fixes" to people longing for something different.

Your overall height comes from the growth of your bones. From before your were born until you reach full adulthood, your bones continue to grow. The entire bone doesn't grow, instead grow comes at the ends of the bones from areas known as the growth plates. The maximum rate of growth comes before you were five and during your growth spurt, which typically happens when boys are between 13 and 14. However, it is not limited to that range. It can happen earlier or later in a number of boys.

Once the adolescent growth spurt is done, the growth plates begin to close down. Once they are closed, they will not reopen.

Human Growth Hormone affects the speed of growth from the plates while they are open, but the hormone does not keep the plates open. Thus the only time Human Growth Hormone is effective is before and during the adolescent growth spurt. Taking it after the growth plates start to shut down won't change your height measurably. It is a very expensive compound and is usually only given to children who are obviously well below a typical stature before they are adolescents.

Weight lifting was once a concern because there was fear that it might damage the growth plates. Further studies have shown that light and moderate lifting causes no damage.

Every person's proportions is unique. For example, I know several people who are 6 foot or greater in height who have the same shoe size as you. I also know people who are shorter than you who have larger feet. While shoe size and height roughly correlate, neither is a predictor of the other.

To gain the maximum potential for height, a person needs to eat a variety of foods in an adequate quantity from birth to just past the peak of their growth spurt. This makes sure that the body has all the necessary fuel and components needed for growth while growth is taking place. If a child is malnourished, lost time for adequate growth cannot be fully made up at a later time. But overeating or over-consuming one category of nutrients, such as proteins, does not increase your height beyond what your genes will give you.

The only accurate test to see if you will continue to grow is for x-rays to be done to see if the growth plates are still open. Rather than x-raying the entire body which is expensive and potentially damaging, doctors use other methods. The most accurate estimate at this time is called a bone scan. The doctor takes an x-ray of your hand and compares the size and shape of your bones to a series of charts in a book. From this, they gain a highly accurate estimate of what is happening in the rest of your body.

The most common method of estimation is done by comparing your external sexual characteristics to estimate your internal progress. This is the method developed by Dr. Tanner. While someone trained in what to look for tends to be most accurate, studies have found that self-estimating is fairly accurate. There is a tool on this web site that goes through the various external characteristics and calculates the development stage from your answers. See: "The Tanner Development Stage Calculator for Boys" for the estimate.

Given your description of yourself, it sounds like you are in very late stage 4 or the early parts of stage 5. Essentially your growth in height is done. Your shoulders may continue to broaden for a while. You have the ability to increase your muscle mass. But you won't see major changes in your body's size.