Our bodies change as we grow older. Whether gaining or losing weight, getting taller, shrinking, or developing health concerns, a multitude of differences occur in our body as we age. Our feet are no exception to this. Taking us everywhere we’ve gone since childhood, they’ve seen a lot of use and experienced a lot of wear. With that wear, comes foot problems and pain. The problems encountered often fall into five common variants.
As we age, our toenails often become thicker, fragile, and harder to cut. This could be due to their growth slowing down from changing hormones, poor circulation, or common fungal infections. Other conditions common with ageing can also have effects on the nails, affecting their growth and health.
It is best to keep your toenails cut properly to prevent them from getting to a point where they are unmanageable. Also, ensure they are cut straight across, as nails that are cut with rounded edges are more likely to become ingrown.
Swelling, Circulation Problems and Fluctuating Size
Often, medications, hormones, cardiovascular issues, and problems with the veins themselves can be the root cause of swelling and circulation problems in the feet. These are often the most common foot problems experienced as we get older.
Occasionally, the size or shape of your foot might change over time. This is due to changes in the tendons and ligaments in the body. Tendons lose some of their water content, causing them to stiffen up and pull your foot. Ligaments, however, loosen and stretch over time. This can cause your arch to fall, making your foot flatten and increase in size. The loose ligaments can also increase the likelihood of sprains and strains in your foot.
In order to support your arch, buy a good pair of running shoes with plenty of stability. Make sure you have enough room in your shoe, especially if you know your feet will swell throughout the day.
Disappearing Fat Pads
The bottom of our foot is cushioned with pads comprised of collagen, elastin, and fatty tissue. This padding helps protect the bones of our feet from the impact of taking steps. Unfortunately, our bodies begin to decrease collagen production once we get older, and the pads on our feet become thinner. This makes walking more painful, as there is less cushioning between the bones of the foot and the surface that is being stepped on.
To help relieve some of the pain from the diminished padding, make sure you have supportive shoes, and use insoles or padding when necessary to help make them more comfortable.
Dry and Fragile Skin
Along with being an integral part of the padding on the bottom of our feet, collagen also helps to keep our skin healthy and hydrated. As the collagen levels in our body begin to decrease, our skin becomes dry, and more likely to crack.
To bring moisture back to the skin, it is recommended to apply a moisturizing lotion or cream frequently. Start off with once a day, and if you don’t see improvements, increase the number of applications to twice a day.
As with any other joint in the body, the feet can develop arthritis. There are over 30 different joints in the foot alone, although the big toe, ankle, and subtalar (between the ankle and heel) joints are the ones most commonly affected. Having arthritis in your hip or knee joints can also have an effect on your foot, as it may affect the way you stand or walk, misaligning your feet.
Exercise, reducing pressure and weight on the feet, and appropriate shoe inserts can help to relieve the pain of arthritis.
If you’re experiencing any of these signs of ageing in your feet, you’re a new patient looking for a podiatrist in Toronto, or you have any other foot care concerns, don’t hesitate to contact our foot clinic today!