I want to grow UP!
February 22, 2006 2:19 AM   Subscribe

I know that growth mainly has to do with genetics and stuff, but do you personally think I have any chance at getting any taller?

I'm just turned 19 last month and is a freshman in college. I'm currently 5'5 1/2". Dad is 5'6", Mom is about 5"4, and younger brother (16) is about 5'7". Oh yeah, I'm Chinese too.

Do I have a growth spurt left that can shoot me up another inch or so? Anything I do (e.g. work out, purposely avoid crappy dining hall food) possibly keep this from hitting it's max potential? Anything I can do to help it out? (yes, I know pills and special insoles don't work...)

Or am I destined to be short in stature for the remainder of my years?
posted by beammeup4 to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Males usually continue growing until around 20 years. I myself gained about a half inch in height between 23 and 25 years.
posted by shoos at 2:51 AM on February 22, 2006


If you have any growth possibility left, you could make the best of it by eating a healthy diet and getting a lot of exercise at least until you're in your mid-20s, at which point everyone has pretty much grown all they're ever going to grow.

Eat no junk, no fast food, no take-out. Cook at home. Eat lots of protein. Buy a couple of good cook books and learn to cook tasty, healthy stuff that you would be happy to share with the attractive person you met while exercising.

Yes, exercise. Getting lots of exercise (doing something every day, maybe something in the morning and something in the evening) would mean that you could eat more food than a sedentary person can eat, and some of that extra food running through your healthy system might be converted to extra height.

Even if you don't grow any taller, a lot of good exercise fueled by good food will maximize your sexiness and make you stronger and faster and longer lasting than many of the taller guys. When they're flopped on the ground, you'll be five feet taller than they are.
posted by pracowity at 3:09 AM on February 22, 2006


I'm no expert, but I know guys who have grown a little after they turned 20, so if you're lucky you might still have a chance, seeing from family background. I'm a gal, but I grew about a half inch in my freshman year. But franky, I don't think 5'5 1/2 is short for an Asian person. That's about the average height for Japanese men. I'm actually very tall for a Japanese woman, by the way, at about 5'6 (171 cm). And my husband is shorter than me, he's about 5'4 (165cm). His height doesn't bother me a bit, so if your height is bothering you, I hope you don't let it overshadow your sense of self-confidence.
posted by misozaki at 3:11 AM on February 22, 2006


Alexander Technique will help you maximise the height you already have.
posted by oh pollo! at 3:35 AM on February 22, 2006


I'll third the idea that you could still grow 1/2 to 1 inch. I think it's normal for males to grow up to an inch between 20 and 25. My father says he did anyway (I'm female).

But listen to misozaki. Height doesn't matter.
posted by ancamp at 4:08 AM on February 22, 2006


I grew 2 1/2 inches in my early 20s.

It can happen, if you're genetically predisposed to do so.
posted by jpburns at 4:43 AM on February 22, 2006


You could grow another inch, but it's unlikely. Stay away from cigarettes, get lots of calcium and protein, and consciously make a point to sit/walk with a straight back.

If you work out with your abdominals and lats a lot, you might get another quarter-inch, but I wouldn't hold my breath. First, because you shouldn't hold your breath while exercising (muscles need o2!). Second, because you might pass out, and that's never attractive.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:47 AM on February 22, 2006


On the other hand, I more or less stopped at 6'2" (188 cm) at age 16.
posted by mcwetboy at 4:52 AM on February 22, 2006


Well, you can always hope (until the age of 25, after which it becomes a delusion), and it can't hurt to make sure you exericise a lot, attend to your posture, and eat well.

But honestly, your height is only a problem if you make it into one. Personality matters much, much more in the end.

I have a friend who's just your height (he's Indian) who says he often feels overpowered in bed because his partners have always been as big or bigger than he is. In time he grew to really like that feeling;-) And he's just gotten engaged to a very pretty, lovable woman.
posted by orange swan at 5:30 AM on February 22, 2006


I grew four inches in college (between 18 and 20).
posted by bshort at 6:10 AM on February 22, 2006


I'm female, and I still grew a bit in college. OK, so that was mostly in the chest, but I did gain about a half-inch.
posted by schroedinger at 6:22 AM on February 22, 2006


if you are rich you could always get that thing where they break your legs, and pull them apart slowly letting the bones grow back. seems a bit painful, but it can add another couple inches, can be done to the arms as well.... but i suggest you just be very healthy and eat well.
posted by stilgar at 6:31 AM on February 22, 2006


I grew in college, after having already stopped at 16 beforehand (one of those scoliosis checks confirmed it then). I gained almost 2 inches (which i needed), and smoked (and did worse) the whole time. I come from a very tall family tho, and am still the runt of my litter, so results may vary.
posted by amberglow at 7:31 AM on February 22, 2006


Seeing as how many olympic athletes are short and will eat and work out much more than you, I would say that genetics constitutes 99% of height for someone with a normal diet in a developed nation. When does the HGH stop making people taller? I would at least look into it as I don't think your window for treatment is getting any larger. It's something like $20,000 for every half inch, but I knew quite a few "short" people (i.e. not short enough to really warrant the treatment) who grew several inches on it.
posted by geoff. at 7:39 AM on February 22, 2006


X-rays of joints can also give you some indication whether or not you're still growing... A good doc can usually tell whether or not your bones are done expanding.
posted by Heminator at 7:44 AM on February 22, 2006


I hear advanced yoga can give you an inch because it decompresses your spine...
posted by mhuckaba at 9:13 AM on February 22, 2006


How tall were you at 2? Double the height. There's your answer.
posted by acoutu at 9:22 AM on February 22, 2006


I used to be 6'7. At 40, I am now more like 6'6, due to gravity and slouching.

In college I had the hots for a young woman who was 5'1. There was some mutual attraction, but I still think the primary reason things didn't work out was because of the freakish heighth difference (among other things). I can't afford decent clothes half the time (42" waist, 37" length). I can totally see the desire to hit 5'7", but keep in mind there are some unique advantages to being the heighth you are. I had a cousin who took hgh and it just made her very wide.

/two bits
posted by mecran01 at 9:58 AM on February 22, 2006


This probably won't help you much at the age of 19, but as you grow older you will most likely tend to slouch/hunch over and your posture will get out of whack, especially if your job promotes that sort of thing by requiring you to stay in the same position for hours (ie. a sedentary/desk job). If that happens to you and you find one day you are even shorter than you are now, you can try getting a few sessions of Rolfing done. I've been a licensed massage therapist for over 4 years now and I've heard people say that they'll "grow" an inch or two after rolfing sessions, because it improves their structural alignment, posture, and basically they're just standing up straight, not slouched or slightly hunched over.

Just as an FYI, I believe the way rolfing is done is in packs of 10 sessions - once a week for 10 weeks sort of thing. I don't think you can just go get one session.
posted by mojabunni at 10:53 AM on February 22, 2006


You'll make less money if you're shorter, at least in the average case, sadly. And have you ever listened to personal adds or women describing their ideal man? Tall is an extremely common adjective. So it's not entirely true that height does not matter. Says this reasonably well adjusted guy that's only 5'6".

The diet and exercise suggestions here are good regardless, but I really wouldn't count on getting much taller.
posted by teece at 10:58 AM on February 22, 2006


My Dad's a foot taller than my mother was and I never quite reached his height, which always pissed me off. I grew half an inch from 5'8" to 5'8 1/2" some time after 20.

If you want to be taller then your Dad I think you're doomed. Sorry. Your long bones have already knit, more or less, and any further growth is incremental.

These are all good suggestions above, but I think cultivating an accepting attitude and not worrying is likely to be better for you than ekeing out another inch through self-mortification.

As an aside:

"genetics constitutes 99% of height for someone with a normal diet in a developed nation."

recently I've been reading that maternal malnourishment has height effects into the 3rd generation - that is, if your grandma didn't get enough to eat, not only will your mother be small but so will her children. My malnourished-as-children Lithuanian Jewish grandparents were around 5'. Their grandchildren are several inches taller. At ten my daughter seems destined to outgrow me already. It really depends how long your family has been eating consistently well.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:06 AM on February 22, 2006


I "grew" a quarter inch well past physical adulthood through exercise, stretching, and improved posture. If your flexibility and posture could stand improving, you could see some small benefit from doing so.

And ditto everyone else. Live healthily -- eat well, exercise, sleep enough. You may or may not have a growth spurt left -- those things will support one if it comes, and it'll benefit you anyway if one doesn't.

You can only benefit from being comfortable with yourself and your height, whatever it may end up being.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:49 AM on February 22, 2006


There's also the effect of antibiotics. Massive regular doses can stimulte further growth (probably not all that much as you're about done growing), but have the side effect of fucking up your immune system.
posted by klangklangston at 11:50 AM on February 22, 2006


I grew a half inch to hit 5'11" when I was about 22.* Annoying as hell, as I had to buy all new pants. Even worse was replacing all my shoes (gained a half size there), as I'm the sort who buys shoes that last for life.

At your age, I'd be more concerned about growing *out* rather than up. If it hasn't begun already, you're reaching an age where your metabolism changes. Food you'd once burn off by just thinking about exercise will start sticking around. So if anything, all the good advice about exercise and healthy eating should at least help keep you fit.

* Of course, the extra height still didn't change the fact that I have a small frame and am chronically skinny. A moderate gust of wind could knock me over and now I have that much more distance to fall.
posted by Sangre Azul at 12:11 PM on February 22, 2006


Um, even with another inch you'll still be short. On the bright side, you'll live a lot longer then us 6 footers, statistically.
posted by JamesMessick at 2:43 PM on February 22, 2006


All this advice about not smoking, drinking, eating fast food to grow seems like bunk to me. Please link studies that show these things stunt growth before telling him to make sacrifices he may not need to make. I don't see how it's helpful to tell him (e.g.) to give up sex for 10 years if he wants to grow, if this a lie. In fact it's downright harmful.
posted by dgaicun at 2:59 PM on February 22, 2006


Or am I destined to be short in stature for the remainder of my years?

Also shortness is relative, remember. You're exactly average for a Chinese person. If you want to be tall move to Italy or Japan. Even bigger? Go Vietnam or Singapore. And if you want to be huge, move to Cambodia.

Oh, and if you want to really be a freak about it, and you got several thousands dollaz to blow, there's always this.
posted by dgaicun at 5:24 PM on February 22, 2006


I'd like to add that (if you're at all concerned about the height issue with women) I once read that women tend to prefer a man who is 6 inches taller than she. So, you can find a cute, 4'11 1/2" chick and live happily ever after :) I myself am 5'1", so 5'5ish isn't a big deal really. I had a boyfriend who was 5'7" years ago and I didn't feel like he was inadequate or short or anything.

For some reason, I think the height issue matters less with Asians than it does with whites since Asians tend to be shorter on average (according to an article I read once, years ago), or at least are kind of stereotyped as being shorter. I think Asians also tend to be stereotyped as being smart and/or hardworking, so that's in your favor.
posted by mojabunni at 5:49 PM on February 22, 2006


Please link studies that show these things stunt growth before telling him to make sacrifices he may not need to make.

Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 2000;154:542-543

No links. You'll have to get off your ass and head to a library.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:51 PM on February 22, 2006


recently I've been reading that maternal malnourishment has height effects into the 3rd generation - that is, if your grandma didn't get enough to eat, not only will your mother be small but so will her children.

really? the Dutch were malnourished during WW2 and now are much more taller than they used to be. Even the Japanese are shooting up. Has that been verified?
posted by amberglow at 7:48 AM on February 23, 2006


or does it have to be very longterm malnourishment?
posted by amberglow at 7:49 AM on February 23, 2006


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