How Does Aging Affect the Feet?
As we age, our feet go through changes that may compromise our foot health:
- Our feet become longer and wider, causing our usual footwear to become tight and uncomfortable, which can lead to the development of bunions, corns, hammertoes and calluses
- The padding that naturally occurs in the heel and ball of our foot is reduced, which can lead to foot pain
- Our arches flatten and our ligaments and tendons to become weaker, which can cause conditions such as Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis and Metatarsalgia to develop
This is a regular part of aging. Your feet undergo a lot of stress over the years, as they balance the weight of your body and absorb the shock of your footfalls.
There are also medical conditions that can put you at greater risk of developing foot issues. For example, arthritis of the foot can cause inflammation and pain, leading to reduced mobility. Diabetes can lead to nerve damage in the feet and other areas of the body.
Issues with the feet can have a huge impact on a person’s mobility and overall health. However, there are some general steps you can take to help improve your foot health.
If you have a specific foot condition, injury or disease, see your doctor to determine the appropriate treatment method. Here are some simple solutions for treating general foot issues at home:
Check Your Feet – You should check your feet regularly for any blisters, cracking, cuts, or other foot issues, especially if you have diabetes or other conditions that affect your circulation. Don’t forget to check every part of your foot – the sole, toes and toenails, the heel, the ankle and the top of the foot.
Proper Footwear – Your shoe size may have gone up since you were younger. If you think your shoes may be contributing to foot pain or other foot issues, look into purchasing a new pair. Look for shoes that won’t squeeze your toes or the top of your foot. You should avoid shoes with high heels, as well as shoes with pointed toes. Wearing shoes with high heels and/or pointed toes for years is one of the most common causes of bunions, corns, hammertoes and calluses.
RICE – Many foot issues can be treated with Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation. Resting your feet will help alleviate pain and prevent further injury. Icing the foot will reduce pain and swelling. Compression helps to get rid of inflammation. Elevating your feet will help with any circulatory issues.
Stretching, Exercises & Massage – Foot stretches, exercises and massages can help with symptoms related to certain foot issues and can improve foot mobility. While overuse of the feet can cause strain, they should not be immobile. Keeping your feet moving into old age will only help improve foot health.
NSAIDs – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with foot conditions and injuries. Just be sure not to use painkillers during times of physical activity, as they mask the pain, causing you to be unaware if you’re doing any damage.