When we think about aging, our first thought is to grab a cream to halt the imminent crow’s feet around our eyes. But considering your feet endure so much physical pressure every day, they’re also not immune to aging.
The good news is that there are some very simple ways to take care of your feet, thereby delaying the undesirable (and inevitable) effects that come with every step.
What Happens to Feet With Time?
Wrinkles aren’t the only symptom of aging. When it comes to your feet, aging takes the form of fragile skin, brittle nails, dryness, weakening of joints, and even fat loss. Although our feet appear to be made of only skin and bones, our soles and heels are protected with a layer of fat that cushions the bottom from the ground’s hard surface. This fatty layer can diminish over time, making walking all the more painful. On top of that, daily wear and tear can make connective tissues, joints, and bones lose their strength.
Symptoms of Aging Feet
If your feet are aging, you’ll notice aches and pains with more regularity, joints that feel less lubricated as you walk, toes that begin clawing, limited mobility, increased incidence of circulatory issues, or other conditions like bunions (a bony bump at the base of the big toe).
5 Ways to Prevent Aging Feet
Our body naturally deteriorates with age, but there are several things you can do to sustain the health of your feet as long as possible. Start with these easy tips:
It may seem counterintuitive, but exercising is great for your feet. It tones muscles, keeps your joints working smoothly, and encourages healthy blood circulation.
Just make sure you don’t go too hard on your feet. As with everything, balance is key. A 20-minute brisk walk is probably better than a 10-mile run up a steep incline. Pay attention to how your feet feel at all times. If you feel pain, stop immediately.
On top of that, the more you use your feet, the earlier you’ll notice if something doesn’t feel right. Identifying an issue as soon as it occurs makes it much easier for you and your podiatrist to remedy the problem.
Keep toenails clean and sufficiently short.
Long toenails are prone to pushing against the top or side of your shoe, triggering pain, breakage, and even internal bleeding. When you cut your toenails, don’t cut them too short either; you want to avoid them becoming ingrown. As a general guide, cut your nails so that you can see the entire edge of the nail from left to right. Any shorter, and you risk the nail growing into your skin, which causes pain.
Wear comfortable shoes that fit well.
If your shoes are too big, you’ll find yourself expending too much energy to simply walk or run. If they’re too small, you’ll notice soreness or pain around the sides of your toes and on the soles of your feet. The best shoes will be flexible enough to adjust to your normal foot shape, as well as offer sufficient shock absorption, arch support, and overall stability.
Keep feet clean and moisturized.
Even younger, healthy feet are prone to dryness and more severe conditions like athlete’s foot, but you must exercise extra caution as you age. Make sure socks and shoes are cleaned regularly. And always moisturize your feet after you shower. Just make sure you do so in bed, right before you sleep. If you apply lotion or cream and walk around after, there’s a chance you might slip and fall!
Get an annual foot check-up.
Having a medical professional take a look at your feet might not seem as crucial as getting a breast or prostate exam, but it’s important. Not only can a podiatrist identify conditions like diabetes just by examining your feet, but they can also address any issues directly related to the feet, like corns, and help you avoid disruptive issues further down the line.
Aging feet are a fact of life, but there are things you can do to help avoid any potential aging-related foot problems. Regular exercise and proper foot care can help you manage the everyday wear and tear, and keep you walking comfortably for decades to come.