The days are passing slowly, the years are fleeing quickly, and before we know it, our kids are actually staying in the same clothing and shoe size without outgrowing them in what feels like two days. So when do children stop growing and when can you expect the dreaded growing pains to no longer be an issue? Today, the Sole Motion team is talking about kids’ growth!
According to studies done on growth in kids, the last growth spurt happens 1-2 years after puberty starts. As puberty varies from person to person, and has different averages between boys and girls, this can vary somewhat.
Generally speaking, girls tend to have a growth spurt between 10 and 14 years, reaching final adult height by 14 or 15 years. Boys tend to start this a year or two later, reaching final adult height by 16 years. After this, development is still occurring when it comes to muscles and strength – kids are just less likely to be growing in height or length – like the feet.
Growth spurts can see the feet grow by as much as 1.5cm within 6 months. Outside of growth spurts, their feet grow approximately 2cm per year between ages 0-2, 1.5cm per year between ages 2-5, and 1cm per year between the ages 6 and 11 years.
Getting into the nitty-gritty, kids keep growing in height and length for as long as their bones keep growing. The way our bones grow is through special areas called growth plates located in multiple areas on the bones. Instead of being made of hard bone, they are made of softer cartilage, and are the areas to which new bone is added by the body, thereby lengthening the bones.
Eventually, these growth plates (when triggered by the body) will harden, turning into solid bone. Without any growth plates, our bones can no longer continue to lengthen and grow, and so we stop growing. There are no outwards signs that growth plates are hardening – it’s not a painful or obvious process. We can see on an x-ray that the lighter areas in the bones that were formerly growth plates have now turned solid to match the rest of the bone, but most people won’t know when this has occurred.
While kids are very little, between 0-2 years, their feet stay soft and flexible. They do not have an arch, but instead a fat pad in the arch area that allows them to feel well with their feet as they develop their senses and understanding of the world beneath them.
Between 2-3 years old, the muscles in the feet start becoming stronger and more defined. It is at this stage that you may notice an arch forming and their feet becoming to look more like our own. By the age of 6, the arch should have developed to its lifelong state (more or less), though some studies have shown increases in arch height at 7-9 years old.
While kids are still growing, they can get growing pains. These usually occur during growth spurts, often between the ages of 8 and 16, but can happen before that too. There is a common misconception that growing pains are a mysterious event that ‘just happens’ and ‘there’s nothing that can be done’ for them. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Growing pains are a medical event where the rate at which the bones grow is different from the rate at which the attaching muscles lengthen. Think of it this way: you have tight muscles attaching from one bone to another nearby (or not so nearby). When bones lengthen, this can strain these attaching muscles if they haven’t themselves grown/lengthened. This tightness can be painful, especially when we’re also using these muscles during physical activity and running – which kids do a lot of. So pain results.
The best thing about this not-so-mysterious diagnosis is that it’s very treatable – and something that we do here at Sole Motion daily. By reducing the strain on the muscles while encouraging them to lengthen, we can prevent this tight pulling and stop your child’s painful symptoms. We have a number of methods to help with this – and none of them are painful!
While our feet can’t lengthen after our growth plates turn solid, medical conditions and events that have an effect on our foot posture can still cause the feet to change size and arch shape. This ranges from pregnancy to changes to our weight and age or the shoes we choose to wear, which can see our feet working overtime and muscles contracting.
Pain in kids is never normal – not during growth spurts and not at any age in their growth and development. If you’re concerned, we’re here to help. Our experienced podiatry team works extensively with kids – and we have our own, too! We can uncover exactly what’s going on and causing their problems – and how to treat it to see them running without pain and doing the things they love.