We often pay attention to how our feet look once sandal season arrives, and during the rest of the year our feet are starving for a little tender-loving care. We abuse our tender tootsies. Our feet pound the pavement each day, taking us here and there, getting tired and worn out along the way. We do silly things like subject our feet to tight or poorly fitting shoes or we wear high heels. Given all this, its no wonder we have foot issues. Then aging creeps up and – wham!
Foot pain affects 1 in 4 adults after the age of 45, and even more so the older we get. Why? As we age our muscles and tendons lose elasticity which contributes to foot pain. Here are 4 things you may not know about your aging feet.
1. Obesity can increase foot pain.
With excess weight on the body, the foot can’t handle the load that’s being put on it. This can cause a vicious cycle. Obesity which makes people less likely to engage in weight-bearing physical activities, which can lead to more weight gain, and so on. Consider this a call to action to shed excess pounds.
2. Loss of fat in the feet causes foot pain.
We’re all born with a certain amount of fat under our feet, especially under the heels and the balls of our feet. This allows for shock absorption. As we age, this fat padding can atrophy, becoming thinner. Over training and cortisone injections can accelerate the foot’s fat pad loss. When this occurs, we often complain it feels like we’re walking on hard rocks or marbles, which leads to pain and a flattening of the feet. Fat pad loss makes you more susceptible to stress fractures, bruised bones and balance problems as you age. Consider inserting insoles or gel pads to put in your shoes wherever you need the extra padding – including under your heel, under the ball of your foot or next to a bunion.
3. Compromised blood flow causes foot pain.
Various factors can affect the quality of blood flow to the feet, including smoking, diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, etc. Poor circulation means pain because your soft tissues are not being pumped by a proper blood supply. It’s essential to tell your doctor or Reflexology Therapist about any numbness or tingling you have in your feet, as well as any chronic diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis, or vascular disorders, that you have.
4. Foot ailments cause foot pain. Certain foot ailments become more common as we age. These include plantar fasciitis, or pain in the bottom of the heel that occurs when the band of tissue that supports the arch becomes irritated and inflamed, posterior tibial tendonitis, in which the tendon that attaches the calf muscle to the bones on the inside of the foot becomes torn or inflamed, Achilles tendinitis and big toe arthritis. Be proactive and have a thorough foot exam every time you have a physical examination.
What’s to be done?
It’s important to make your foot health a priority, especially as you get older because a healthy foot is the strongest component for continued mobility and a healthy lifestyle. Try doing this:
- Do basic stretches for your Achilles Heel, foot circles and balance exercises, such as toe and heel raise or standing on one foot. Cycling and swimming are easier on the feet because they’re not weight-bearing activities.
- When shopping for new shoes always have your feet measured. Our feet get larger as we age, as everything else in your body sags, and so do your feet.
- When selecting footwear put comfort before fashion. Choose your shoes wisely. Make sure you have plenty of room in the toe box to accommodate your forefoot and any bony protrusions on your feet and that the footwear offers plenty of cushioning for bony or tender areas.
- Tend to your feet regularly. Wash your feet every day and after exercising and be sure to dry them thoroughly. Apply a moisturizer to prevent cracking of the skin.
- Perform daily foot exams. If you cannot see the bottom on your own foot, hold it over a mirror or have someone else check for you. Look for wounds, sores, blisters, calluses and corns. If you find any, wash them with soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment, using a bandage to protect corns and calluses from friction.
Our feet truly are our basis of support. Don’t have aging feet but ‘healthy aging feet!’ Make it a priority to see a Register Canadian Reflexology Therapist (like me!) who can help properly examine AND treat your feet for a multitude of problems. Step forward to better health is the path to take!