Wellness Article

The Agony of the Feet as You Get Older
U.S.News.com – by Stacey Colino, Contributor
While people often pay attention to how their feet look once sandal season comes around, they give their feet little TLC the rest of the year. Meanwhile, we pound our feet on the pavement or place three to four times our body weight on them when we jog. And we often subject our feet to tight or poorly fitting shoes or precarious heels. Given these stresses and strains, it’s a wonder the human foot – with its 26 bones, 33 joints and complex matrix of ligaments, tendons and muscles – doesn’t launch a full-scale rebellion.

But sometimes it does, especially as we get older. Indeed, a study in a 2016 issue of Maturitas found that foot pain affects 1 in 4 adults after age 45, and it’s at least somewhat disabling in two-thirds of those cases. Even worse, foot pain in older adults is associated with a 62 percent increased risk of recurrent falls, according to a study in a 2017 issue of Gerontology. “As we get older, our muscles and tendons lose elasticity, which can contribute to foot pain,” says Beth Gusenoff, a podiatric surgeon and clinical assistant professor in the department of plastic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

It’s important to make your foot health a priority, especially as you get older because “a healthy foot is a catalyst for mobility and a healthy lifestyle,” Gusenoff says. “Your feet really are your base of support.”

Here are six things you may not know about your aging feet – but should.

Obesity can increase your risk of suffering from foot pain. A study in a 2017 issue of the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice found that as people’s body mass index, or BMI, increases from the normal range to obesity, so do the odds that they will have foot pain as they get older; this is true for men and women. With excess weight on the body, “the foot can’t handle the mechanical load that’s being put on it,” Gusenoff says.

Unfortunately, the obesity issue can create a vicious cycle, whereby obesity increases the risk of foot pain, which makes people less likely to engage in weight-bearing physical activities, which can lead to more weight gain, and so on, notes Dr. Clifford Jeng, medical director of the Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. Consider this extra incentive to shed excess pounds. (source)

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