Our feet, like anything in life, are not immune to the aging process. And because we ask so much of our feet on a regular basis, wear and tear over the years can lead to different foot issues if we’re not aware of how prolonged stress affects our feet. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at some of the degenerative and natural changes that your feet may experience as you get older, and we explain how you can prevent these changes from causing problems for your feet.

How Do Your Feet Change As You Age?

Time takes its toll on our feet in a few different ways. Here’s how Father Time can change your feet, and what you can do about it.

  1. Fallen Arches – Over time, the tendon that helps support your foot’s natural arch can slowly become overstretched. When this happens, your foot arch can flatten, which changes how stress is dispersed on your foot. Arch flattening can also be the result of ankle osteoarthritis. Fallen arches can affect the natural positioning of your feet, ankles and knees, and can even increase your risk of joint deterioration. If your arches are beginning to fall, consider physical therapy or orthotic inserts to provide additional support to the midfoot.
  2. Decreased Fat Pad – Our feet have natural fat pads on the bottom to make it a little more comfortable to walk around. Over time and due to repetitive stress, this fat pad can decrease. As you lose some of this padding, the stress we put on our feet can become more noticeable, and it may be part of the reason your feet are uncomfortable after extended periods of walking or standing. Maintaining a healthy weight can help slow the speed at which this fat pad naturally degenerates.
  3. Toe Shifting – Shoes help to protect our feet while we walk, but if we’re not careful about our shoe choices, our footwear can put abnormal stress on the foot. If this pressure affects certain joints or ligaments in the area, it can lead to the formation of bunions or hammertoes. Limit the amount of time you spend in tight-fitting shoes to help prevent abnormal stress from being placed on your toes.
  4. Ankle Ligament Weakening – We have supportive ankle ligaments on both sides of the ankle joint that help provide stability in the area. Over the years, we roll and sprain our ankles, and it takes a toll on these supportive ligaments. These ligaments can become looser and less supportive, increasing your risk of a sprain or a fracture. Physical therapy, regular exercise or a foot stretching program can all help to keep these ligaments tight and supportive.
  5. Cracked Heels – Our skin loses some of its natural oils and elasticity as we get older, meaning it can become prone to cracking, especially if you’re overweight. Cracked heels can become painful and sore, so it’s in your best interest to try to avoid them. Maintaining a healthy weight and using moisturizing lotion can help prevent cracking heels.

If you want professional help with any of the above conditions, or you need assistance with a completely different foot issue, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today.

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