Arthritis is a degenerative condition that can’t be reversed once it develops, and although treatment can help to mitigate symptoms and make the issue more comfortable, it’s certainly something that you want to work to prevent instead of treat. This is especially true when it comes to foot arthritis, because we use our feet every single day to help us move. If joints in our feet are worn and degenerative because we didn’t take care of them appropriately, life is going to become a lot less comfortable, and this discomfort can lead to decreased activity and movement, which presents its own health challenges.
With that in mind, we wanted to use today’s blog to share some tips on how you can work to stave off foot arthritis.
How To Prevent Arthritis Of The Foot
There are a few different joints in your feet and ankles, and like any other joint in your body, they are prone to wear and tear and natural degeneration. So despite our best efforts, it’s impossible to completely prevent all degeneration because it is a natural part of aging. That said, the key is to avoid expediting this process through some bad habits. Here are some tips for providing a healthy environment for your feet and some ways you can slow down the natural regeneration process.
- Regular Exercise – If stress and strain can work to wear down a joint, it may seem odd that exercise is our top recommendation, but movement and activity is extremely important for fostering great joint health. Certain low impact exercises are great for strengthening muscles and soft tissues that support and stabilize your joints, like yoga, walking, cycling, swimming or Pilates. Your joints need activity to be at their strongest, so be aware that you’re not protecting them by sitting on the couch and being inactive.
- Healthy Weight – Having a healthy weight is also essential if you want to take stress off your feet. The more you weigh, the more pressure your feet have to handle with each step you take, and that will slowly work to wear down protective cartilage in your joints. Losing just a few pounds can take a large amount of stress off of the many joints in your feet.
- Watch Your Diet – While this point ties into the above point, it’s important that you mind your diet for reasons other than just to manage your weight. Gout is an inflammatory form of arthritis that typically develops in a person’s big toe joint due to uric acid buildup in the body. Diet and inactivity are the leading causes of uric acid buildup, with foods like red meat, shellfish and alcoholic beverages being particularly problematic. These foods that are high in purines can trigger a different form of arthritis in your feet, so mind your diet and stay active.
- Wear The Right Shoes – Poor footwear choices can put more stress on certain areas of your feet, causing joints to wear down more quickly. Shoes with a high heel or narrow toe box can really change how stress is dispersed on your feet, overloading different areas and making them susceptible to arthritis onset. Choose comfortable and supportive shoes over uncomfortable and fashionable shoes, especially if you’ll be wearing them for an extended period of time.
- Care For A Foot Injury – If you suffer an ankle sprain or develop a bunion, don’t try to keep pushing through the discomfort while hoping that everything will eventually heal. If you don’t treat an underlying injury or foot condition, it’s only going to linger, which can also lead to new and problematic changes for how stress is dispersed on your feet. Don’t let a small problem snowball into a lifelong issue because you didn’t take care of your feet when an injury developed.
For more information about any of the above tips, or to talk to a foot specialist about any foot discomfort that you’re experiencing, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today at (860) 244-8889.