Do Your Feet Really Stop Growing?

Remember when we were kids and it seemed like we had to get a new pair of shoes every season because our feet were rapidly growing out of their current shoe size? Many of us said goodbye to our favorite shoes that lit up at the soles and our beloved Doc Martins much quicker than expected, and there is a reason why.

According to Healthline, the bones in our feet, along with the rest of our bodies, grow most during childhood and during the ages of puberty. Most of us officially stop growing — at least vertically — by our early 20s, along with the bones in our feet.

Our bones may stop growing in early adulthood, but you may still need to size up as you get older. Here are the possible explanations as to why your feet are larger even after the bones in them have stopped growing.

Feet stop growing but they keep on stretching

Shoes feeling a little tight? Podiatrist Joy Rowland told the Cleveland Clinic, "Over time and because of gravity, our feet tend to get longer and wider. That happens after our ligaments and our tendons become a little bit more lax over time." So even if your bones have stopped growing, your feet will still stretch.

You may have also found that you need a larger size shoe after giving birth. In one study, 49 women had their feet measured during pregnancy and then again five months post-birth (via Live Science). Researchers found that on average, their foot lengths increased between about 0.1 to 0.4 inches. The arch height in their feet, on the other hand, decreased. In addition to pregnancy, weight gain, decreased elasticity, and physical deformities can all cause your feet to get larger (via Healthline).

Unfortunately, as you get older your feet will not only stretch, but they may start to hurt. "When we start aging, we tend to lose the fat pad that is underlying the skin, so some people develop calluses and corns in addition to the fat pad atrophy, which adds to a patient's pain," Dr. Rowland revealed.