Whether due to neglect, overuse or repeated trauma, the normal wear and tear of the years causes changes in our feet. This is especially true for those of us who are athletes or who spent years pursuing our favorite sports.
As our feet change, they also often develop more problems. But aching feet are not a natural part of getting older or something to be tolerated. In fact, there are many things you can do to keep your feet healthy, help relieve the pain you may have, prevent further issues from develop and generally keep the spring in your step for years to come.
The Benefits Of Good Foot Care
Taking good care of our feet has many benefits. One of these is in limiting the possibility of additional health issues. Since feet are often referred to as the “mirror of health”, problems with the feet are often the harbinger of other systemic diseases.
Another benefit of good foot care is the ability to stay active and mobile. While walking and other physical activity may take a toll on our feet, these activities are actually the antidote to becoming immobile.
What You Put On Your Feet Really Does Matter
It can’t be said too often, proper footwear can make a huge difference in taking care of your feet and in ensuring we stay mobile throughout our lives.
This begins with properly fitting footwear. An amazing number of people wear shoes that don’t fit well and over time, this can create serious problems.
As we age, our feet tend to spread and lose the fatty pads that cushion the bottom of our feet. In addition, extra weight can affect the bone and ligament structure. So, rather than presuming that your shoe size remains constant over the years, you should have your feet measured regularly to ensure you are buying footwear that is going to fit correctly.
Staying Active Into Your Golden Years
Additionally, footwear should be chosen for the activity for which it will be worn. This is especially true for those of us who continue to participate in athletic pursuits. Footwear with the proper support can mean the difference between pain/injury and the enjoyment of our favorite sports.
Improper foot function can be a deterrent to staying active, but this can be corrected with over-the-counter or custom orthotics and biomechanically-designed footwear. Not only does improper foot function contribute to pain in our feet, but it can affect the alignment of our entire lower body. And misalignment can contribute to many everyday aches and pains, as well as potential overuse injuries or repetitive trauma to our tendons, bones and joints.
Tips For Preventing Overuse Injuries To Your Feet & Body
- Warm up before stretching
- Don’t push through pain. Discomfort is a signal that something may be wrong or that you’re asking for more from your feet or body than it can provide at the moment.
- Increase your workouts gradually. A simple rule of thumb is to not increase your activity level more than 10% per week.
- Run or walk on soft surfaces whenever possible.
- Alternate hard training days with easy days.
- Replace athletic shoes every 500 miles. With repeated use, shoes lose their ability to absorb shock.
- If you pronate, (the inside of your foot rolls in excessively) or have another alignment problem, you may be able to prevent injury with orthotics. Consult your physician about whether orthotics may be appropriate for you.
Most importantly, learn to listen to your feet and body and stay active. And if you do suffer an injury, consult your doctor or a sports medicine specialist to prevent chronic or recurrent problems. They can help in modifying your activity/training schedule to maintain your fitness level in a safe manner while you recover.