Feet are the workhorses of our bodies and the foundation of our physical wellness, particularly as we age. At the same time, the feet are also the most neglected part of our body. When your feet is hurt or prematurely aging or aren’t functioning properly, it can affect your posture, fitness, and even your entire life. That is, the discomfort gradually moves up the body, eventually stiffening and restricting mobility in the knees, hips and even the lower back. So, if you don’t address the problem early, it can cause a gradual deterioration of your entire posture and gait as you age, which is tough to recover from at that period.
A 2017 study linked toe flexor strength to blood pressure, sleep quality and even body composition. Another even linked poor toe strength to type 2 diabetes (of course, this doesn’t indicate causation) (https://www.care2.com).
Some of the most common factors that harm our feet as we age include:
- Injury and exposure to fungus and bacteria
- Wear and tear (sports, work-related stresses)
- Systemic disease (diabetes, peripheral artery disease)
- Poorly constructed footwear (flip-flops)
- Arthritis and loose ligaments
- Tight connective tissue
- Excessively dry skin
- Reduced fat padding on the bottoms of the feet
Modern-day activity and poor footwear are the most common causes of premature ageing of the foot. Other factors include genetic foot posture disposition, body weight, lack of essential dietary nutrients and too much, or too little, weight-bearing exercises.
So, for healthy and graceful aging, make sure that you strengthen your feet. For that, we should take special care of them throughout our life.
- Always follow some basic exercises:
- Make sure to exercise your feet. Exercising your feet on a regular basis not only improves overall foot health, but can also reduce your risk for injury.
- Walking is the best overall foot exercise as it improves your cardiovascular health and can help your circulation, muscle tone, and mood.
- Other than walking, you can also perform flexibility and resistance exercises to keep your feet healthy.
- Give your feet some love and care:
- Give a good massage to your feet. Use a massage ball to roll along the arch and toes to work out all the nooks and crannies of your feet.
- Indulge in a Relaxing Foot Soak by simply adding 1/2 cup Epsom salt or a few drops of essential oils to a gallon of warm water. Soak your feet for 10-15 minutes, then dry gently with a fluffy towel. Be sure to dry especially well between your toes.
- Choose the right footwear
- Be cautious when you are choosing or buying footwear, because fashionable high heels and pointy-toed shoes result can result in corns, bunions, curled toes or other painful problems.
- The American Podiatric Association advises avoiding high heels (nothing higher than 2 inches)
- Be smart with your footwear and if you can, opt for shoes with plenty of toe room (width-wise), a low heel and minimal cushioning. This will help get your feet reacquainted to the ground and strengthen them over time.
- Replace or repair your footwear before the wear and tear starts to show.
- Take care of your general health and fitness
- Keep your feet clean. Wash your feet with soap and water every day and dry them well.
- Inspect your feet every day, particularly if you are diabetic or have problems with circulation.
- Moisturize your feet daily to avoid cracking.
- Wear clean, moisture-wicking socks and change them daily.
- If you are heavy, lose weight and keep your body in optimal shape by maintaining a healthy bodyweight, eating a well-balanced diet, undertaking regular weight-bearing exercise of more than 30 minutes per day and seeking specialist medical opinion for assessment of ongoing pain or injury.
- Stop smoking.
- If you experience an ingrown toenail, corn, or callus, do see a doctor. Never perform do-it-your-self foot surgery.
- Get a podiatric examination once a year.
Stop neglecting your feet and start taking care of them now, so that your feet will continue to serve you well into old age—significantly boosting your quality of life.