It is always important to take care of our feet but as we get older this becomes even more vital as foot health starts to decline and may affect our general wellbeing and ability to stay fit and healthy.
Years of wearing too tight or ill-fitting shoes (and even tight socks), old foot injuries, poor circulation and uneven weight distribution can cause corns, calluses, bunions and other issues with the feet. Left untreated symptoms can quickly worsen and lead to falls and infections so footcare is very important especially as we age.
For abnormal changes in your feet please consult a footcare professional like a podiatrist or even a doctor. Diabetics must not self-treat feet without consulting a medical professional.
Our feet grow and change along with the rest of our bodies when we are young and developing. However, when we get older feet grow due to the wear and tear of supporting our entire body weight. This causes feet to flatten out and become both wider and longer as the tendons and ligaments in the foot become less elastic. This can also lead to the foot arch lowering and the foot becoming flatter.
When the tendon running along the sole of the foot gets longer it can also contribute to bunions.
As we age the fat pads on the bottom of the feet get thinner. Less cushioning can lead to general foot soreness and corns or calluses on the toes and sides and undersides of the feet.
More stiffness and less flexibility may occur in the feet and ankles as you age. Even if health conditions limit the amount and type of exercise you can do, it’s important to try to maintain foot and ankle mobility and strength by being active and at the very least doing some basic stretches to help flexibility. Keeping your feet and ankles strong and healthy is especially important as we get older, to improve balance and reduce the risk of falls.
Swelling in the feet, ankles and lower legs can be due to poor circulation and problems with veins, hormonal changes, heart disease, the side of effects of some medications or reduced physical activity. It is important for you to know what the reason is if you experience this.
Feet can become dry and itchy as skin produces less collagen. This can lead to more calluses, cracked heels and rashes.
Toenails can get thicker as we age mainly caused by age-related hormonal changes. Nails grow more slowly but can be thicker and more brittle nails which can be difficult to cut. If nails aren’t kept short and trimmed this can push the toes against the shoes and cause increased pressure which may lead to corns and calluses.
Arthritis can cause pain in the joints of the ankle and toes and can make bunions or hammertoe symptoms worse. This pain may change your gait and affect the knees, hips and back. Arthritis in knees or hips can cause alignment changes and lead to foot pain and put cause pressure on your toes when wearing shoes.
Many of these symptoms can be mitigated with a proper foot care routine: