Why are my feet still growing?
December 10, 2004 4:01 PM   Subscribe

Did your feet grow as an adult, and did you figure out why? Please hope me!

In the past year or so, my feet have grown a full American size and show no sign of stopping. I'm 28 years old. Lately I walk more often for exercise (I used to bike more) and had a job that involved carrying heavy objects on a regular basis, so the fact that my feet have squashed outward makes sense to me. However, my feet have also grown longer. Google offers a cornucopia of frightful genetic disorders and deadly ailments, none of which seem plausible. Can you reassure me that I won't end up with fantastically freakish flipper feet?
posted by naomi to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
Well no, but I can tell that you're not the only one. My feet have grown about one full size since college (after stopping in junior high).
posted by cali at 4:12 PM on December 10, 2004

I wore size 8.5 when I graduated from high school. Now, several years later I wear size 10. I attribute it to several factors: I didn't wear the correct size in highschool because I thought my feet were too big; My feet got wider with use; shoes are made larger now.

I really don't think that you'll end up with flipper feet. Really.
posted by Juicylicious at 4:16 PM on December 10, 2004

I know several women who have told me that their feet grew or otherwise expanded a full size during pregnancy.
posted by bonheur at 4:23 PM on December 10, 2004

Walking and running more will make your feet grow, plus the added size due to swelling and such. Marathon and distance runners deal with this by choosing shoes that are a little too big at the start of the race to accomodate the inevitable swelling when they need it most.

I'm not sure if the growth is just due to more muscles or not, but I know that bones tend to strengthen and grow if subjected to repeated tolerable stresses. This is why Bruce Lee and other martial artists rub their shins and other strike points with sticks, to increase the density and strength of the bone.
posted by loquacious at 4:42 PM on December 10, 2004

I gues I could be off, but I'm pretty darn sure that after puberty, your growth plates fuse and bones can no longer grow in length. Or at least, shouldn't.

Maybe that's just long bones, but I was pretty sure it's all of them, no?
posted by gramcracker at 5:27 PM on December 10, 2004

I read somewhere online just yesterday that it is normal for feet to grow (and widen) in middle age. Don't know where I saw it though, sorry. Also, shoe sizes are FAR from standard from one manufacturer (or even from one pair) to another.
posted by rushmc at 5:36 PM on December 10, 2004

gramcracker -- thats true, though it can take a long time for some bones (that is, the epiphyses or growth plates of bones) to fuse - the clavicle and sternum, for example, may not fuse until age thirty. Whuch is not the same as growth continuing to thirty.

I would go with loquacious that if this is not a shoe-sizing issue then it is most likely due to increased use of the foot, which can not only create greater musculature and callouses, but also can enlarge bones (or certain parts of the bones) where the muscles attach. I haven't heard of this as a routine efffect of aging but its possible I suppose. Could an early-stage bunion or increased callosity result in the appearance of larger feet via tighter fitting shoes?

Digression: People who perform repetitive physical actions will develop skeletal evidence of muscular development. For example, medieval archers have very distinctively asymetrical uper bodies as one arm is under tension and the other compression during shooting. Charioteers would press outwards with their legs to brace themselves which is a very uncommon and distinctive action. Women grinding corn on their knees develop massive (and sometimes arthritic) big toes from "pushing off". All of the above can be determined from the skeleton and archaeologists rely on such effects to determine occupation or lifetime stress levels. Also, it is usually obvious if you are right or left handed from your skeleton. [/digression]
posted by Rumple at 6:31 PM on December 10, 2004

Mine have grown probably a size-and-a-half since I was 18, and widened from average to at least 2EE. The left has always been about a half-size larger, too.

Buying shoes is less and less fun.
posted by Shane at 6:31 PM on December 10, 2004

Both feet and ears keep growing for the rest of your life, if I recall correctly.
posted by konolia at 7:09 PM on December 10, 2004

I was a size 7 1/2 when I finished high school, a size 8 when I graduated college, and soon after slowly inched up to an 8 1/2. I attributed the increases to weight gain (I gained about 15 lbs. when I started birth control in college, then I gained 8 lbs. moving from Florida to Buffalo - winter weight from the first cold season that never came off =P).

I was pregnant last year and now I seem to be a size 9, although I can still fit into some of my 8 1/2 shoes, depending. A lot of them definitely don't fit anymore. I'm pregnant again and hoping I don't continue to gain half-sizes like this, but who knows? I hear it's normal for your feet to get bigger with each pregnancy. Bah.
posted by Melinika at 7:22 PM on December 10, 2004

No... your nose and your ears. Not feet.

My feet have gotten smaller. Am I dying?

Yes. Eventually.
posted by Doohickie at 8:38 PM on December 10, 2004

People in my paternal grandmother's family continue to grow, albeit slowly, well into their twenties. I put on about an inch in height and a half shoe size between the time I graduated high school and the time I started having kids at 28. And the pregnancies have added at least another half size to the feet.
posted by whatnot at 8:44 PM on December 10, 2004

I grew about a half inch and a half a shoe size from age 21 to 22. A very bizarre little growth spurt because nothing else really changed about me.
posted by Sangre Azul at 9:18 PM on December 10, 2004

I grew about four inches in college but my shoe size only went up a half size.
posted by bshort at 11:23 PM on December 10, 2004

I started walking 30 minutes to and from work over a year ago, and in that time my feet have grown half a size. I can definitely tell they've gotten bigger and wider, even if all my friends say I'm imagining things.

Sounds like people's feet won't dramatically increase in size, so I wouldn't worry about it, and don't listen to people who scoff at your growing feet.
posted by lychee at 1:14 AM on December 11, 2004

As I gain and/or lose weight my feet change sizes. I've gone from 7 1/2 to 9 and back down to 7 1/2 over the course of adulthood. Most shoes are now 7 1/2 to 8, depending on the manufacturer/style.
posted by kamylyon at 4:54 AM on December 11, 2004

Thank you all! My feet are still proportional to my body and they have no bunions or gigantic big toes, so I will count myself lucky.

If I get pregnant, I'll just have to go barefoot and live the cliche.
posted by naomi at 7:57 AM on December 11, 2004

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