There is one guarantee as we age – our bodies change. While we tend to focus on new lines and creases on our faces, expanding waistlines, hair where we don’t want it and no hair where we do, and the downward effect of gravity on, well, almost everything, we often overlook subtle changes to our feet. But decades of standing, walking, dancing, jogging, running and a myriad of sports have a profound effect on the condition of your feet, some of which may involve pain. Think of how many pairs of shoes you have owned over the years! And ladies, you are particularly susceptible to aging feet conditions due to shoe style fashion and wearing high heels.
What Are the Changes to Our Feet As We Age?
There are a number of normal alterations to the foot as we mature, but foot pain should not be a normal side effect of aging. American Foot and Leg Specialists recommend that you address foot changes that cause pain as soon as they are experienced. As foot mileage increases, you may experience the following:
Change in Shape: You root through your closet, and find a pair of awesome shoes you used to wear 12 years ago that you just haven’t been able to find. Yea, you think, and put them on, only to find that they are suddenly too small. Why? The ligaments under the foot may have begun to lose some of their tension, and as a result the arch beneath the foot may start to collapse. Your foot lengthens and you may feel pain in the arch, or heel, or both. Not to mention you are now a size larger shoe.
Loss of Natural Fat Pad Cushion: Feet are designed with natural fat padding that helps cushion your weight. Look at baby feet – all fat! Now look at your feet. Can you see how the fat pad on the sole has thinned noticeably? When the fat pad thins, the bones in the balls of the feet lose the cushioning protection, and your feet may ache when walking, sometimes just standing is painful, particularly when shoes are not well lined. Walking barefoot may be particularly uncomfortable.
Circulation and Skin Differences: Ever notice how your feet feel cold more now than they used to? Even in summer when it’s hot outside but the air conditioner is on? That’s due to decreased blood circulation as you age, which has several repercussions: the skin becomes thinner and drier, which can lead to cracking and other topical injuries; healing of injuries, even small cracks and blisters, takes longer; loss of fat pad; cold feet.
Arthritis: Because your feet take so much abuse over your lifetime, (it’s like they are weightlifting every moment a person stands, walks, runs, dances, exercises, etc.) they are a part of the body that is highly susceptible to arthritis in later years.
How to Deal with Foot Pain as You Age
You can’t stop the physical alterations in your feet as years go by, but you can take steps to address aging foot conditions as soon as you begin to experience symptoms. Our doctors at American Foot and Leg Specialists are dedicated to keep those “boots a-walkin”. Here are a few tips on how to protect your feet from further complications:
• Choose shoe styles that are wider and deeper, with built-in arch support
• Use custom, or even over-the-counter shoe supports and foot pads with shoes that have a higher heel or ballet flats.
• Wash your feet daily with warm water and a non-irritating soap. Apply a non-greasy moisturizer, but not between the toes.
• Make sure your feet are always totally dry before you put on your shoes and socks.
• When you sit, try to find something to prop your feet up on, and try not to cross your legs – it limits circulation.
• Shop for shoes at the end of the day because your feet are at their biggest then. It’s easier to add a pad in a shoe that’s a little too big in the morning than squeeze your foot into a too snug shoe at the end of the day.
You don’t have to accept the normal transformations to your feet which may impact your capability for mobility. Schedule regular visits to American Foot and Leg Specialists, with 4 locations serving the south Atlanta metro area for over 40 years, to schedule an appointment if you experience any unusual problems with your feet, particularly if you have diabetes or a circulatory disease, which increases the risk of injury and slower recovery times.