When do growth plates close?

Growth plates are an essential part of the body during the height growth process. They continually develop throughout childhood and come to a halt as we reach maturity. So, when do growth plates close? Let’s delve into the details in this article.

What are growth plates?

Cartilage is a flexible and elastic type of tissue, present in various parts of the body such as joints, ears, nose, and ribs. Its main function is to provide mechanical support and reduce friction between bone surfaces during movement.

Growth plates refer to the regeneration and transformation of cartilage into new bone. This process occurs throughout the body’s developmental stages. During the fetal stage, cartilage cells begin to form and divide to create initial cartilage areas. As the body grows, cartilage continues to expand through division and the production of new cells.

The process of growth plate expansion also occurs during the healing of injuries or when cartilage is damaged. Cartilage cells near the injured area will intensify their division and produce additional cartilage to replace and repair the affected region.

How does growth cartilage affect height?

The process of growth cartilage occurs in children and adolescents during the developmental and maturation phase of the body. During this time, the cartilage tubes divide and generate new cartilage, which then transforms into bone. This transformation is known as ossification.

The growth cartilage and ossification region are commonly referred to as the growth plates of long bones. They are located at the ends of long bones in the body, such as the bones of the legs, arms, and thighs. Under the influence of endocrine glands, the process of growth and ossification continues, allowing the long bones to grow vertically. This is also how our height increases over time.

Once the body has completed its physiological characteristics, the rate of cartilage growth and bone ossification gradually decreases and eventually stops. This is also the time when our height ceases to increase further.

The cartilage will continuously grow throughout the process of body height development

The cartilage will continuously grow throughout the process of body height development.

The developmental journey of growth cartilage

The developmental journey of growth cartilage comprises five main stages: Formation, Cartilage tube formation, Division and generation of new cartilage tissue, Bone conversion, and Complete ossification. Understanding these stages helps us to have a more informed adjustment plan to promote comprehensive development.

Formation stage of initial cartilage

The process of forming initial cartilage occurs during the fetal stage. Mesenchymal cells begin to differentiate into cartilage cells. Subsequently, this cell group continues to transform into cartilage systems in the fetus.

Stage of cartilage tube formation

The initial cartilage cells organize into cartilage tubes, also known as growth plates. This is a critical stage in the development of long bones. The cartilage tubes contain cartilage cells that divide and synthesize cartilage matrix components.

Stage of generating new cartilage tissue

As our bodies grow, especially during adolescence, the strong influence of endocrine glands stimulates cartilage cells in the growth plates to divide and generate additional new cartilage cells. This process contributes to the increase in length of the bones in the body, subsequently leading to an increase in height.

Stage of bone conversion

The characteristic of the bone conversion stage is when cartilage cells evolve into bone cells, forming layers of bone matrix and creating new bone. This process occurs vigorously during adolescence.

Stage of complete bone ossification

After the body reaches a certain level of development, the rate of bone ossification gradually decreases and eventually stops. Cartilage at this stage does not grow in length anymore but continues to maintain its supportive and protective function for organs and joints in the body.

At what age do growth plates close?

The process of growth plate closure is known as ossification. During the ossification of growth cartilage, the final cartilage cells transform into bone cells and form layers of bone matrix. Once ossification is complete, the bone no longer has the ability to grow in length through growth cartilage.

Typically, this process occurs at the end of adolescence, around 18 years for females and 20 years for males. However, this timing may vary for each individual. According to experts’ observations, growth plates can close between the ages of 20 to 22. However, the height increase during this period is usually less than 0.39 inches (1 cm).

Ways to stimulate growth cartilage development

The complete closure of growth plates is synonymous with the cessation of height increase. At this point, only leg-lengthening methods can bring about changes in your stature (bearing in mind the potential high costs and risks if not performed properly). So, why not consider the following approaches during the time when natural and safe height enhancement is still possible?

Proper nutrition

Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in stimulating growth cartilage development. By providing an adequate supply through a balanced and diverse diet, bone cartilage functions optimally. Here are the essential nutrients to focus on:


Protein is a key component of cartilage. Sufficient protein intake through daily meals helps supply the necessary amino acids for creating new cartilage tissue. Protein-rich foods include meat, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts, and dairy products.


Calcium is an essential mineral for bone development. During the process of bone formation from cartilage, calcium is necessary for the conversion of cartilage into bone. Calcium-rich foods include non-fat dairy products, oily fish such as salmon and sardines, leafy greens, and seeds.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, two essential elements for bone and cartilage development. The primary source of vitamin D is sunlight. Additionally, this vitamin can be found in some fish such as salmon, mackerel, and eggs.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is vital for collagen production, a primary component of cartilage. Additionally, it acts as an antioxidant to protect cartilage from damage. Oranges, pineapples, kiwis, and green vegetables like kale and cabbage are rich sources of vitamin C.


Fiber supports overall health and the absorption of nutrients. A fiber-rich diet from sources such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can help maintain good cartilage health.


Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and contribute to maintaining the health of tissues, including cartilage. Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel are excellent sources of omega-3. Additionally, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and fish oil are other supplementary sources of omega-3.

Physical activity and exercise

Regular physical activity and exercise have a positive impact on bone cartilage development. It helps enhance blood circulation and supply nutrients to the joints and surrounding tissues. Additionally, exercise can help improve muscle and bone flexibility and strength, reducing negative impact on joints and cartilage.

Furthermore, activities such as running, jumping, and swimming create mechanical pressure on the joints and bones. This pressure can stimulate cartilage cells and create conditions for their division and regeneration. Moreover, during exercise, growth hormones including GH and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) are stimulated for production. The process of bone regeneration and formation is significantly strengthened as a result.

Here are some exercises that can help stimulate the growth of cartilage and bone:

Weight-bearing exercises

Weight-bearing exercises like jogging, jump roping, hopscotch, basketball, or soccer all help create pressure and have a positive impact on cartilage and bones. However, make sure you perform these exercises safely and in accordance with your abilities.

Weight-resistance exercises

Exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, leg presses, and calf raises apply pressure and load to the bones in the legs and spine. This can stimulate growth and increase bone density.

Gravity-resisting exercises

Gravity-resisting exercises like swimming, practicing yoga, or Pilates create appropriate tension and pressure on the joints and cartilage. These exercises can help maintain the flexibility and mobility of cartilage.

Muscle-strengthening exercises

Strengthening muscles can help support and protect cartilage and bones. Planks, push-ups, pull-ups, and exercises that build strength for major muscle groups are beneficial for the development of cartilage and bones.

Balance and stabilization exercises

Exercises that involve standing on one leg and using balance aids like wobble boards can help enhance joint stability and flexibility, thereby supporting the growth of cartilage.

Most importantly, you should have a workout schedule that is appropriate for your physical condition. At the same time, plan for a suitable nutritional intake to facilitate maximum growth of your bones and joints.

Adequate Sleep

Getting enough sleep plays a crucial role in stimulating the growth and recovery of cartilage. During sleep, the body synthesizes and releases growth hormones that stimulate and regenerate bone and cartilage. Moreover, this is also the time when the body focuses on repairing and rejuvenating cartilage tissues.

Another benefit of sleep that aids in the better growth of cartilage is the reduction of impact and pressure on the joints and spine. Simultaneously, it maintains hormonal balance within the body and enhances the immune system to keep the cartilage healthy and prevent related issues.

Weight Management

Excess weight can create pressure and have a negative impact on the joints and cartilage. When this pressure is prolonged, it can lead to the wear and tear and degradation of cartilage. By controlling weight and maintaining a healthy weight, you can reduce the load on the joints and keep your cartilage healthy.

However, weight is just one factor in cartilage development, and it also depends on genetics and other factors. To control your weight safely and effectively, you need a proper diet, lifestyle, and rest regime.

Proper Posture in Standing, Sitting, and Walking

Correct posture helps apply the appropriate tension and pressure on the joints and cartilage. This maintains the balance and stability of cartilage structures and prevents wear and tear. Proper posture also helps maintain flexibility and natural movement of the joints. In this way, cartilage can also develop and maintain its health.

Read more: How Does Poor Sitting and Standing Posture Affect Height?

What should you keep in mind when performing exercises to stimulate cartilage growth?

When performing exercises to stimulate the growth of cartilage, you should pay attention to the following points:

  • Proper posture and technique ensure that pressure and load are accurately and safely transferred to the cartilage.
  • Start with an appropriate level and volume of training. Gradually increase the difficulty over time. This gradual progression allows the cartilage to adapt and grow safely.
  • Avoid overexertion during exercise to protect your cartilage from unnecessary joint injuries.
  • Ensure there is ample rest time between training sessions to prevent injuries as well as to allow for joint recovery.
  • Incorporate a variety of exercises to ensure that the cartilage receives adequate pressure and load from different angles.
  • If you feel pain or discomfort while exercising, stop and investigate the cause. Sometimes, a minor adjustment in technique or training intensity may be necessary to avoid injury and protect the cartilage.

Surely you now understand more about the cartilage growth process and how it ossifies into bone. Remember, cartilage only develops robustly in the first 20 years of life. Performing exercises that stimulate cartilage as well as maintaining a nutritious diet is the best way to optimize this effect.

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