Aging Gracefully: How Your Feet Change With Age
It’s no secret that your body changes as it ages. But did you know your also feet undergo several changes as you grow older? The most noticeable change? Your feet might have spread and widened over the years. You may now have to shop for a different shoe size or a shoe with a wider measurement.
Your feet also undergo these normal age-related changes:
- Loss of fat pads on the bottom of the feet. These fat pads serve as a natural cushion of support for the balls of the feet as well as the heels. As this fatty tissue begins to thin, side effects such as heel pain and ball of the foot pain may occur. Conditions such as heel spurs may become inflamed because of lack of natural padding in the heel. It can sometimes result in plantar fasciitis. Custom orthotics are a great way to proactively fight any adverse conditions that may result from thinning fat pads.
- Skin on the feet becomes thinner and loses its elasticity. Skin naturally thins as we age, eventually becoming almost papery and translucent. Just like paper, skin this thin can easily tear or be punctured. Walking barefoot on rough or uneven surfaces puts this thin skin on the bottom of the feet at risk of injury. If there are any accompanied conditions, such as diabetes or peripheral neuropathy, a simple cut or scrape can quickly become infected. Always wear foot protection when walking.
- Circulation may become less efficient in your feet. As we age, circulation decreases in our extremities, and as a result, feet can become cold easily, tingle, cramp or swell. Other health issues, such as obesity, high blood pressure or cholesterol and diabetes can exacerbate poor circulation. Improper diet, smoking, sitting for long periods of time and lack of exercise can also contribute to poor circulation.
- Nails become thicker and brittle. Similar to skin losing its elasticity, nails lose moisture and can crack or peel easily. Brittle nails can be brought on early by too much long-term use of nail polish or frequent exposure to moist conditions (such as swimming). Thin and brittle nails can also be a sign of other health conditions, such as hypothyroidism, so a visit to the podiatrist is the best course of action in ensuring that brittle nails are nothing more than a sign of aging. Vitamins and other supplements can improve nail condition in many cases.
It’s important that you watch for changes in your feet and be proactive to limit any adverse side effects as a result of the aging process.
Other than daily care and maintenance, a routine appointment with a podiatrist is advised to catch the onset of any problems so they can be treated early.
For more information about foot health or to make an appointment with one of the podiatrists at the Triad Foot Center, click here to request an appointment.
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