You know you’ve done it before. You’re faced with a decision that will likely have a negative outcome, but pass it off by thinking, “That’s a problem for Future Me.”
The problem with that is “Future You” eventually becomes “Present You.” And as we age, the future just seems to arrive faster and faster!
When it comes to your feet, you have choices for “Future You” as well. It’s time to stop thinking about passing problems on to them and figuring out ways to help them out instead.
Your feet rack up a lot of miles over the years—more than 100,000 over an average lifetime, in fact! Wear and tear happen, but there are plenty of things you can do now to help ensure your feet are in better shape as you age.
Manage Your Weight
We hate to start with one that can be tough, but it’s also one of the best ways to help prevent foot pain in the future.
Our feet bear and distribute our weight on a daily basis. A shift of 20 pounds can have a significant effect on the amount of force on our feet, influencing their shape and the development of painful conditions. The more time spent bearing extra weight, the more of an effect there can be over time.
Both diet and exercise are crucial to a good weight loss effort. If your feet are already aching after exercise, consider lower-impact activities such as swimming or biking.
Wear Better Shoes
A lifetime of poor shoe choices can take its toll in the latter part of life.
We’re not just talking about high heels, although they are among the most damaging types of shoes you can have. The way they force weight toward the front of the foot can contribute to the progression of bunions, hammertoes, neuromas, and many other painful foot problems. They can even have effects on other parts of the body in terms of shortened calf muscles, hip pain, and back pain.
But other shoes can have negative effects on your feet, as well. Too tight of a toe box can lead to blisters, calluses, and toe deformities, while forcing your heel into too rigid of a back can lead to heel pain, (more) blisters, and Haglund’s deformity.
With as much time as you spend in your shoes, make sure they are comfortable, accommodating, and have room for your toes to move around. Make sure to measure your feet at least once every couple years as your size can change over time—even as an adult!
Don’t Stay Sitting or Standing Too Long
It is not always easy to switch up your stance during the day, especially if you have a job that largely demands you stay parked in a chair or on your feet.
However, our feet and legs were not made to spend so much time in only one position. Having the ability to move around and rest is best for our circulation. When circulation starts to weaken, the feet tend to be affected first. The more we can do to keep our blood pumping, the better it will be for our feet over time.
If you sit all day, try to take a minute or two every hour to stand up and walk a bit. If you are on your feet throughout the day, take lunch and breaks to sit down and take a load off for a spell (you know, instead of running around and taking care of errands).
Inspect Your Feet
Early detection and treatment of problems is one of your best defenses against lasting problems. While our feet tend to have good sensory systems, sometimes things can get lost.
Develop a habit of checking over your feet visually at a convenient part of the day, such as after you get out of the shower or before going to bed. Check for abnormalities such as:
- Discolorations in the skin and nails
If you spot anything out of the ordinary, perform at-home treatment as needed (like putting a bandage over a cut) and check in on it. If you don’t see improvement after a couple days, give us a call.
This might sound simple and relatively harmless, but can be a very effective tool in saving you future troubles. If you can catch signs of a fungal nail infection in its early stages (when it tends to just look like white spots on your nail), it is much easier to treat than later on.
And if you have diabetes, that means your feet’s ability to sense pain and trouble may diminish over time. You should be checking your feet daily to find signs of problems before they evolve into something much worse. No exceptions!
Declutter Your Home
Yes, we know decluttering is big right now with that Marie Kondo show, but there’s a bit more to a clean home than peace of mind.
Our risks of fall injuries are highest at home, and only rise with age. Items such as stacks of junk, loose rugs, and cords in our walkways increase our chances of becoming tripped up.
Take some time to tour your home and identify areas that could be hazardous to you or your visitors. It also pays to do the same at the houses of older loved ones. It’s easy to do and can be very effective—although it’s hard to quantify things that don’t happen.
Future You Will Thank You
Don’t put off until tomorrow that which you can do today! The steps you take now to help your feet can make you a much happier and healthier person in the future.
Associates in Podiatry can help you manage problems you are facing now as well as avoid problems that may be on the horizon. Call our Princeton office at (609) 924-8333 or our Roselle Park office at (908) 687-5757 to schedule an appointment. We’re the first step to healthy feet!