As we get older, our bodies get older too. Natural changes occur and with the rest of your body, aging takes its toll on your feet. We can’t do anything about this. What we need to do is accept these changes and be knowledgeable in handling them.
Our feet are our primary mode of transportation. According to the American Podiatrist Medical Association (APMA), most Americans will have walked 75,000 miles by the time they reach the age of 50. Those who use their feet more than the usual norm will reach this milestone at an earlier age. It’s no wonder that our feet are vulnerable to experience accelerated wear and tear with all these walking we have to do.
Natural changes that your feet will experience range from minor changes in the skin to serious conditions that can impact how the bones in your feet function. The most common natural changes in aging feet include:
Diminishing fat pads
Fat pads that are found at the balls and heels of our feet act as cushions to our feet that protects the tissues and bones. They’re made up of collagen and elastin that serve as shock absorbers. Collagen production reduces during middle age, leaving these fat pads to become thinner. Without these cushions, you are practically walking on bones and this will leave you with a lot of pain at the end of the day.
Changes in skin due to aging are one of the most noticeable natural changes. The skin becomes thinner, dries out, and cracks as one grows old. This causes the feet to often feel sore when the day ends.
Changes in the toenails
As we age, our toenails become thicker, harder, or more flaky and brittle, making cutting and maintaining the nails difficult. They become vulnerable to fungal infections. Hormonal changes can cause the nails to have discoloration, breaks, and form rough ridges.
Changes in toe positions
Changing toe positions as a person grows old commonly happens. Toes may shrink and move to the left or right as our walking patterns change. Corns and calluses may form so you may want to add pads and wear wider-toed shoes to relieve the discomfort.
Joints stability changes
The stability of our joints is affected by the elasticity and strength changes in the ligaments. This makes us susceptible to muscle and joint pain, especially at the knees and ankles. Our coordination and balance can also be affected, thereby increasing the risk of falling.
Decades of stuffing your feet on pointy-toed shoes and stilettos increase the risk of having hammertoes, bunions, mallet toes, and other crooked toes conditions. What could start off as a mild irritation can lead to painful corns and calluses over time as your bent toes rub with one another and rub against your shoes.
Arthritis is a common cause of foot problems in aging people. It affects the form and function of a joint over a period of time that usually results in the stiffening and soreness of the joints. The knees, feet, ankles, mid-foot, and big toes are usually affected.
Problems with blood circulation
Blood circulation problems happen as we age. Vein disease, diabetes, and other conditions brought about by aging can slow down the flow of blood. The feet, being the farthest from the heart, receives the least and are often the first to show signs of diminishing blood flow. Toe hairs stop growing, skin becomes paler, and foot injuries or wounds that take longer to heal are just some of the signs.
Longer and wider feet
Our feet increase in size as we age. Weakened ligaments or tendons and gravity lowers the arch which causes the foot to lengthen and widen. This may also lead to painful arch and heel.
Loss of strength
The same with an increase in foot size, the foot tends to lose strength as the muscles, ligaments, and tendons weaken over time.
How to care for aging feet:
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Footwear that provides support to your arches is a must.
- Wear shoes that are big enough to accommodate swelling of the feet.
- Wear socks to keep your feet warm during cold weather.
- Wear the right size socks, stockings, or tights to avoid cramping.
- Don’t walk barefoot. Fat foot pads become thinner with age, walking barefoot aggravates this condition.
- Always check the skin of your feet. Remove hard skin with the use of a pumice stone, as hard skin can lead to corns and calluses. Use a foot moisturizer regularly.
- If crooked toes, blisters, or any form of deformity develops on your feet, consider seeking professional help to help you deal with the problem.
- Use a skin-hydrating foot cream that will keep your feet soft and keep you from having hardened, thickened, and cracked skin.
- Keep your toenails straight when you trim and file them. This will prevent you from having ingrown toenails.
- Check your feet daily. Watch out for cuts, breaks, cracks, or thick skin and address the problem immediately.
- Regular visits to a podiatrist are advised if you have foot problems often.
- Do feet exercises regularly to improve blood circulation in your legs and feet and prevent swelling.
- Avoid leaving your feet hanging when you sit for long periods.
- Sit with your feet elevated if moving around is impossible due to health reasons.
- Live a healthy lifestyle.
- Practice healthy habits for better health.
- Watch out for any underlying health conditions.
As you age your body grows old as well. Being able to stay active, mobile, and independent in your later years is important. Taking good care of your joints and feet is essential to having a pain-free healthy happy long life.