As we age our bodies go through natural changes, many of which affect our feet and ankles. While these changes are normal they can put our bodies at increased risk of injury, especially when it comes to the feet and ankles. Let’s take a look at the most common problems that can affect our feet and ankles as we age.
Fat Pads Decrease – While fat loss may seem like a good thing, this is the fatty pads in your feet, which naturally help to cushion your steps. This is usually most noticeable as the days goes on. Feet may feel fine in the morning but as the day wears on feet may become tired and painful. Fortunately this is an easy problem to combat, wearing shoes with more cushioning can easily offset the loss of fat pads.
Hammertoes – We often see our older population develop hammertoes. A hammertoe is when the small toes contract towards the foot, making it hard or impossible for the toe to lie flat. This can be caused a few different ways. The toes can contract in an effort to provide more balance for individuals with low arches. Also, as we age our tendons tighten which can contribute to hammertoes.
Tendons & Ligaments – These both function as connective tissues but with very different jobs. Tendons connect muscle to bone and help you move. As we age tendons hold less water and tighten, which can lead to increased chance of injuries. This is why it is important to stay hydrated and do plenty of stretching before exercise. Ligaments connect bone to bone and aid in providing stability to joints. As we age ligaments loosen up and stretch out, which results in less stability. This can cause the foot’s arch to fall as well as increase the chances of ankle sprains.
Aging is a natural process, but having a knowledgeable and caring podiatrist on your side can make again gracefully and healthily like second nature.