Can Feet Still Grow In Adulthood?

Can Feet Still Grow In Adulthood?

Are your feet starting to feel unexpectedly tight in your shoes? Getting blisters, corns or calluses at the tips of your toes? Looking at the next size up when going to buy new shoes? If you’re thinking that your feet might still be growing – even though you left your teenage years decades ago – you may not be wrong.

While our feet don’t grow in the traditional way in our adult years, they can still get bigger. Here’s how and why – and what you can do to keep your feet safe and comfy when they’re feeling tight and cramped.

Why Don’t Feet Grow In Adulthood Like They Did In Childhood?

All the way through our childhood, our bones, including our feet, were constantly growing. They did this through areas on the ends of all of our bones called growth plates, where our body added bone to make the bones longer and bigger. This happened all the way through to adolescence, until finally, our bones reached maturity and stopped growing. At this time, the growth plates turned to solid bone – and simply put, ceased to be. This is why bones can’t grow in the same way as adults – because the natural process by which our bones grow is no longer possible. 

So What’s Causing My Feet To Get Bigger?

While our feet can’t grow, they can become bigger, and it’s often because they become flatter – so they widen and lengthen compared to their previous ‘arched’ size. This can happen from:

The Natural Ageing Process 

As we grow older, our ligaments and connective tissues can loosen, so they don’t hold the feet as firmly as they used to, and they can grow bigger as they flatten.

Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction

If you’re battling foot pain related to a damaged posterior tibial tendon, this may also lead to a condition called adult acquired flatfoot because the damage to the tendon impairs its ability to support the arch, so the arch drops and the foot appears bigger.


When we’re pregnant, our body is flooded with a hormone called Relaxin, which works to help relax and loosen our tissues in preparation for childbirth. It also affects the feet, loosening the ligaments, causing our feet to grow bigger – often around half a shoe size! 

Weight Increase

Aside from more tissue being added to the feet with weight gain that can result in them appearing bigger, the added weight forces the ligaments, muscles and tissues in our feet to work harder, so they may give a little and flatten, leading to bigger feet.

Do Feet Shrink With Age?

Another thing we’ve heard is that feet shrink with age. The truth on this one is that no, your feet don’t shrink, but what can happen is that the fat pads beneath your feet that work to cushion your feet can grow thin, which may affect how your feet look and feel in your shoes. 

What Should I Do If My Feet Are Flattening And Getting Bigger?

If you’re concerned about your feet, or are starting to get some aches and pains, one of the best things you can do for your feet is to keep them supported. As your feet flatten, the strain on the tissues in your feet increases, and they start working harder to take each step and keep you moving. 

This is where using comfortable footwear with arch support from orthotics can help make a world of difference. Your shoes and orthotics can help keep your feet stable, help prevent aches and pains from overuse, and help you stay comfortable on your feet throughout the day.

Our podiatrists here at Marlborough Podiatry work extensively with people experiencing foot pain as a result of flat feet, prescribing custom foot orthotics designed from an impression of your feet. In many cases, you won’t need to go up a shoe size or buy new shoes by maintaining your natural arch with the help of orthotics.

To talk about and get help with your foot pain or the changes happening with your feet, book an appointment with our experienced, qualified podiatrists by calling 03 972 2927.

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