Oh, My Aching Feet
How do you know when your tired feet are signaling more than normal wear and tear? We’ve got some tips to help you identify and correct foot problems before they become serious.
Our feet carry us everywhere. According to the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, most people take approximately 10,000 steps a day. That’s more than 3 million steps every year. Depending on how forceful our stride is, our foot bears two to three times the impact of our body weight with every step. It’s no wonder that every once in a while, our feet feel tired.
How do we know if the aches we feel are a temporary and normal part of the aging process—or something more serious?
Over time, we may experience the following changes in our feet as a normal part of the aging process:
- Our feet become wider and longer.
- Our feet may flatten a bit as our arches settle over time.
- The fat pad on the bottom of our heel loses some of its padding, and we may lose a bit of the spring in our step as a result.
- Our foot and ankle joints may lose some range of motion and become stiffer.
- As we lose padding and range of motion, we may notice that we have a bit more trouble with balance when we walk.
Other changes in our feet are not inevitable, and may be corrected. When we spend too much time in shoes with more fashion sense than sensible fit, we can develop abnormal foot conditions that start to peak as we reach our 40s, 50s, and 60s. If we notice any of the following, it may be time to rethink our footwear choices. Many of these problems can be prevented or halted if we start wearing shoes that are kinder to our feet:
- The formation of a large bump on our big toe, called a bunion.
- The formation of a bump on the smallest toe, known as a bunionette.
- The “hammering” or curling of the toes.
- A more severe curling of our toes, called “clawing” of the toes.
- The formation of calluses or corns, caused by high pressure over the bony areas of our feet.
- The development of arthritis in our foot and ankle joints.
Of course, although these lists are meant to be helpful, they are not a substitute for a medical examination and evaluation. If you experience persistent foot pain over several days, talk to your doctor. We’ll all enjoy life’s journey more if we are walking through it on healthy, happy feet.
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