When we think of aging, we picture a face full of wrinkles, fine lines, dull skin, and spots. We might even think of body pain, slow movements, and a long chain of health issues. But, we often ignore our feet, despite the fact that they face the brunt of our body weight in taking us from one place to the another.
Aging affects your feet as well. It makes them more prone to dry skin, infections, pain, and calluses. Here are 7 ways you can take care of your feet as they age along with you.
1. Check Your Shoe Size Regularly
As you age, your shoe size tends to increase. Wearing the wrong size shoes has been associated with foot pain, bunions, calluses, and ulcers.1 A study also links tight shoes to Achilles tendon shrinkage. This tendon links the calf muscles to the back of the heel bone, and its shrinkage causes pain whenever you try to walk.
According to research, ill-fitting shoes might also increase your chances of falling.2 By changing your shoes regularly and wearing wide and comfortable shoes, you can avoid any size-related problems.3
2. Wear Good-Quality Shoes
The problem with shoes doesn’t just stop at sizing. Research shows that it’s important to wear shoes with proper hosiery and support to avoid infections and maintain good hygiene.4 Slippers are not recommended since they don’t make your joints work as they should. Instead, you could opt for sports shoes that offer support and shock absorption. Plastic shoes and heels are also not recommended since they restrict movement and don’t allow your feet to breathe.
Always opt for extra comfort and room when it comes to shoes. This includes features like shock absorption, extra support, and cushioning to make walking comfortable. Alternate your shoes each day and wear good-quality socks to prevent infection. Wear your shoes as soon as you wake up if you suffer from swollen feet so as to not give time for them to swell up.5
3. Try An Epsom Salt Foot Bath
If you suffer from pain in your feet due to swelling, Achilles tendon shrinkage, or overuse, try soaking your feet in an Epsom salt and warm water solution.6 You could also add essential oils to the foot bath.
Research has shown that a warm Epsom salt foot bath combined with essential oils like thyme, peppermint, tea tree, oregano, lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender could keep fungal infections away.7 However, make sure you don’t soak your feet too often as that can dry out your skin.8
4. Keep Your Feet Clean
Maintaining foot hygiene is the first step to keeping away bacterial and fungal infections and ingrown nails. Wash your feet every day with a mild soap in lukewarm water. Dry the skin gently after you wash it and pay attention to the area in between your toes. Soap residue could cause irritation and cracking, making way for bacteria. Furthermore, if left moist, these areas could macerate. Avoid rubbing too hard to ensure that the skin doesn’t break and lead to bacterial infections.9
Keep your toenails clean and trimmed at all times. This will prevent them from pressing against the inner walls of your shoes, causing irritation, ulcers, and infections. Improper trimming is also linked to ingrown nails, which could cause pain.10
5. Exercise Regularly
Exercising keeps you “on your toes” and healthy. When it comes to the feet specifically, exercise stimulates blood circulation, tones the muscles, and strengthens the arches.11 Certain exercises work specifically on your feet, such as these:
- Tendinitis stretch: Lean against a wall with your palms flat against the wall. Place one foot in front of the other and, with your heels on the floor, lean against the front foot. You should feel a stretch in your Achilles tendon and calf. Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 3 times.
- Toe stretch: Sit on the floor or on a chair. Place a rubber band around the toes of each foot and spread your toes. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Apart from these, walking, swimming, playing golf, and practicing yoga might be good for your feet.12 However, before starting a new exercise, do check with a medical practitioner to ensure you don’t aggravate or cause any injuries.13
6. Check For Infections Regularly
The easiest way to treat an infection is to catch it before it has a chance to grow. Observe your feet every day for cuts, sores, blisters, cracks, and dry skin.14 15 This step is extremely important for people who have diabetes or arthritis.
A recent study indicated that in a set of people with foot problems due to diabetes, 47.3% of people couldn’t recognize the signs of injury to their feet, while 18.5% of people failed to check their feet for infections.16 To ensure that you don’t miss out on any signs of infection that could eventually be serious, take time out each day to inspect your feet.
7. Don’t Forget To Moisturize
It’s just as important to moisturize your feet as it is for the face. Dry skin leads to cracks that could leave your feet open to infection.17 Use an antibacterial lotion after you wash your feet every day to keep your feel supple, smooth, and free from infections. You could also add a lubricating oil to your foot bath if you have extremely dry skin.18
Your feet need as much love and care as the rest of your body. By dedicating some time and attention to them each day, you are sure to have strong and healthy feet. If you suffer from pain and infection in your feet, visit a podiatrist as soon as possible.
|↑1||Janchai, Siriporn, Dootchai Chaiwanichsiri, Nutsulee Silpipat, and Jirayoo Tiamprasitt. “Ageing feet and plantar arch characteristics of the Thai elderly.” (2010).|
|↑2||Burns, S. L., G. P. Leese, and M. E. T. McMurdo. “Older people and ill fitting shoes.” Postgraduate Medical Journal 78, no. 920 (2002): 344-346.|
|↑3||Key, Sheila, and Peggy Spencer. 50 Ways to Leave Your 40s: Living it Up in Life’s Second Half. New World Library, 2008.|
|↑4||Edelstein, Joan E. “Foot care for the aging.” Physical therapy 68, no. 12 (1988): 1882-1886.|
|↑5, ↑10, ↑11||Ageing Feet. The College Of Podiatry.|
|↑6||Saljoughian, Manouchehr. “Foot Pain Etiology: An Overview.” US Pharm 6 (2014): 19.|
|↑7||Inouye, Shigeharu, Katsuhisa Uchida, Yayoi Nishiyama, Yayoi Hasumi, Hideyo Yamaguchi, and Shigeru Abe. “Combined effect of heat, essential oils and salt on the fungicidal activity against Trichophyton mentagrophytes in foot bath.” Nippon Ishinkin Gakkai Zasshi 48, no. 1 (2007): 27-36.|
|↑8, ↑9, ↑15, ↑18||Graham, Sue, and Margaret Morley. “What’foot care’really means.” The American journal of nursing 84, no. 7 (1984): 889-891.|
|↑12||Staying active and on your feet. Australian Government Department of Health And Ageing.|
|↑13, ↑14, ↑17||Preventing Foot Problems. Arthritis Foundation.|
|↑16||Pollock, R. D., N. C. Unwin, and V. Connolly. “Knowledge and practice of foot care in people with diabetes.” Diabetes research and clinical practice 64, no. 2 (2004): 117-122.|