You’ve walked on your feet for years and they have served you well.
They have carried your body and provided the contact point between you and the floor. Hopefully they have done their job without too many complaints. It’s time to give some thought to how you can care for your aging feet.
Your feet tend to lose some of their cushioning after years of use. You may have noticed your skin isn’t as supple as it once was. Lately they may complain more when you stand on them after you’ve spent too much time sitting. Their skin is drier, and their nails break more easily. You are both getting older, and like the rest of you, your feet will benefit from some loving attention.
With proper care, your feet still have a long and healthy life ahead of them. They will carry you through years of tennis and pickle ball, walking many miles, hiking endless trails, and standing for hours in crowds of friends at parties or waiting in lines.
If you ignore your feet, small problems today may become serious problems later.
Here are some important things you can do to insure your feet will continue to do their job of keeping you, well, on your feet for many enjoyable years to come.
The two most important things you can do to help your feet are:
- Maintain healthy weight
- Wear comfortable good fitting shoes
The more you weigh, the more your feet have to support whether you are standing or walking. Your feet are designed to carry your body for a lifetime, but extra weight can strain them beyond their warranty. Shoes that are too tight, or don’t fit properly can squeeze your feet into cramped quarters and the pressure can deform their delicate structure. Feet can’t do their best work when they are forced into hot, tight airless shoes.
Keep in mind that your feet may become wider as you grow older. Don’t buy shoes based on the size you used to wear. Have your feet measured and select new shoes based on the size your feet are now. The best time to measure your feet is at the end of the day. Most of us have one foot larger than the other, so fit your shoe to your larger foot.
Don’t buy shoes that feel too tight and expect them to stretch to fit. This used to work when shoes were made of natural leather, but the synthetic materials used in most shoes keep their size and shape.
Live an active lifestyle. Getting or staying physically fit has two huge benefits. You stay healthier, and it’s easier to maintain a healthy weight.
When you exercise regularly, improved circulation benefits your feet as well as the rest of your body. If your circulation is poor, any injuries or sores on your feet will take longer to heal. Improve your circulation by stretching, walking, and other exercises.
Practice good foot care:
- Keep your feet clean and dry. Wash them daily.
- Go barefoot or wear open-toe sandals. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor before going barefoot.
- Check your feet every day. Look for sores, inflammation or redness corns and calluses.
- f you find Corns or calluses, you can pare them down by gently rubbing them with a pumice stone or callus file. Protect them from with nonmedicated pads or moleskin. Be careful about using corn-removing tinctures because they can dissolve healthy skin too.
- Trim your toenails, or have someone trim them for you.
- Moisturize dry feet. Use moisturizers that contain petroleum jelly or lanolin.
- Alternate the shoes you wear each day.
- Avoid wearing tight socks or sitting too long with your legs crossed
“The more you exercise your feet, the better the blood flow is to the feet, and that’s important for general foot health,” Dr. Marian T. Hannan of the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife says.
Walking is a great way to exercise your feet. It’s almost as if feet were designed for you to walk on them. You can also try doing some foot exercises. Sit down, take off your shoes and:
- Rotate your feet in one direction, then the other
- Trace the letters of the alphabet in the air with your toes
- Curl your toes, then spread them out. This helps your balance as well
- Roll a ball back and forth under the arch of each foot
- Loop a towel around the top of your foot and pull gently for a calf stretch
- Put a towel on the floor and pick it up by curling your toes
Proper foot care is simple and the rewards are great. If you develop a problem with your feet, see your doctor and get the problem treated. If you take care of your feet, your feet should take care of getting you around wherever you want to go.
Written by: Jon Thompson