Have you ever noticed that your favorite sneakers don’t fit anymore and wondered why? Here’s the deal: your feet aren’t exactly growing but, over time, changes in the rest of the body affect the size of your feet (often necessitating an upgrade in your shoe size) not to mention many other areas of foot health. Here are the 3 main ways your body changes can affect your feet as you age:
As we age, our ligaments and tendons loosen, causing arches to collapse and effectively widening our feet. Additionally, the older you are, the more time you’ve had to develop corns or bunions, both of which can make it more difficult for feet to fit into narrow shoes.
Weight gain can change your feet: the additional pressure can contribute to the flattening and widening of your feet (see above.) Weight loss or simple aging can contribute to a thinning of the fat pads on the bottom of your feet. With less cushioning, your feet will absorb more of the impact of walking or running, which may contribute to foot pain.
With age, the likelihood of developing arthritis increases—and your feet are certainly susceptible to this condition. Additionally, you may develop a condition like diabetes, which can compromise blood flow to your extremities, making even a hangnail a potentially life-threatening condition.
Like the rest of your body, your feet are susceptible to the wear-and-tear of aging. Just as you shouldn’t expect to wear the same pants size your whole life, you may need to go up a shoe size or two as you get older. Similarly—you wouldn’t wait until you’re 60 to see your doctor for your physical, and you really shouldn’t wait until you experience age-related foot pain to see your podiatrist. It’s important to maintain a relationship with your podiatrist even in good times, to establish a baseline of health and determine any red flags for future problems.