Our feet take a bit of a pounding over the course of our lifetime. Carrying all our weight, walking, running, jumping, wrapped up in socks and shoes, hopping over hot sand. We really ask a lot of them. And as we get older, some of that wear and tear – not to mention general aging – starts to cause problems. But this doesn’t have to be the case. So we thought we should have a look at what aging does to your feet, and how you can avoid some of the more uncomfortable consequences.
As we age, our circulation slows, particularly in our extremities, and this can be exacerbated by conditions like diabetes and arterial disease. This slowing of circulation makes healing slower. So cuts and blisters take longer to heal, and infection can set in, which in turn can lead to ulcers.
Solution – Massage is great for increasing blood flow and maintaining good circulation. As you age, it is a good idea to have a regular Neurovascular screening to ensure your circulation is not compromised. And it is important to have cuts, blisters and other problems treated quickly by a Podiatrist to avoid the risk of infection.
- Tendons Tighten
As we age, the water content of our tendons – which attach muscles to bones – reduces and they dry out, causing them to stiffen. This leads to a greater risk of tear or rupture. This condition can also affect our ligaments.
Solution – Staying active and including stretching exercises in your daily routine can avoid stiffening of the tendons.
- Ligaments Lengthen
Ligaments connect bones to other bones. Over the course of our life, these begin to stretch, flattening our feet and leaving us at risk of ankle sprains.
Solution – Again, staying active and exercising will help, as will shoes that provide good support.
- Foot Size and Shape Change
Our feet can change size by half a size or more as we get older, and the shape of our feet can change to reflect the shape of our shoes.
Solution – it is important to always have your shoes properly fitted. Sorry – buying shoes on the internet is never a good idea.
Our feet have 30 joints! And all of them can be affected by arthritis, although most commonly it is the big toe or the midfoot joints that are affected. Arthritis will generally cause pain as well as stiffness in the morning and evening.
Solution – Supportive footwear and shoe inserts can help, as will losing weight if you are a bit on the heavier side.
- Fat Disappears!
In what seems to be a cruel twist of fate, as we begin to struggle to keep the fat off our bodies, the fat begins to disappear from our feet. The bottom of the foot is lined with adipose tissue, the role of which is to provide cushioning and insulation. As we age, this tissue, which is relate to collagen production, thins, causing our feet to feel sore by the end of the day.
Solution – Well cushioned shoes, insoles or gel inserts will help with this condition.
- Toes Deform
Years of being squashed into shoes can cause toes to develop curls, lumps and bends they didn’t originally have. Hammer toes, corns and calluses can change the shape of toes and are largely caused by footwear.
Solution – be careful with your choice of shoe. Avoid pointy toes, and limit high heels to special occasions. As long as you spend the bulk of your day in shoes that provide sufficient room and support, you should limit the problem. It is also important to have any corns or calluses that do develop treated by a Podiatrist as soon as possible – before they get out of hand. Or should I say foot?
- Dry Skin
As with the disappearance of the fat pads on the bottom of the feet, the reduction in collagen production, as well as reduced sebum production can cause dryness in the skin of the feet and cracking in the heels.
Solution – Stay hydrated! Both internally, by drinking plenty of water, and externally by using a quality moisturizer on the feet twice a day.
- Thick Toenails
Toenails tend to grow more slowly as we age, and this can lead to them thickening and becoming more brittle.
Solution – Regular visits to a Podiatrist will help keep your nails looking smooth and healthy and not like bear claws!
Feet and ankles can develop swelling. This can be due to a range of conditions including poor circulation, cardiovascular disease or even be a result of a medication.
Solution – Massage is always a great solution for swelling, but it is also wise to check with your GP about what might be the underlying reason for the swelling. Compression stockings might also be useful.
If you want your feet to feel as young as you do, please give our Baulkham Hills Clinic a call on 9639 7337 to make an appointment with our expert Podiatrist.