Like other parts of the body, your feet change over time. Here are five changes to watch for and ways that you can keep your feet healthy and pain free at any age.
1. Your feet get wider.
Over time, the ligaments in your feet spread out and you might notice that your shoes feel tight. Make sure to get your feet measured before you buy your next pair of shoes. You can also have your favorite shoes stretched to make them fit better.
2. Your feet get longer.
The arches in your feet flatten over time, which, in turn, can make your feet get longer. In fact, your feet may grow one-half a shoe size every 10 years. Getting your feet measured will ensure your shoes are the right size for your feet today.
3. The pads on your heels get thinner.
The natural cushion in your heels decreases with age as you lose the fat layer under your skin and your body produces less collagen. As a result, your heels may begin to hurt as the day wears on. Wear cushioned shoes reinforced with insoles or use gel pads for comfort.
4. Your toes curl up.
Your toes curl up. Years of wearing high heels or shoes that don’t fit can lead to corns, calluses, and hammertoes. Trade pointy-toed shoes for ones with a wider toe box and see a foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon if your toes have curled severely.
5. Your feet and ankles get stiffer.
As you age, the water content in your tendons declines putting you at greater risk for arthritis, tears, and ruptures. The best way to prevent stiffness or injury is to add foot stretching and strengthening exercises to your daily routine.
This patient education campaign is sponsored by the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. Dr. Dominic Carreira is an active member of the AOFAS.