The feet walk hundreds of thousands of kilometres in a lifetime, and by the time you get to 60, they’ve done enough steps to circle the globe more than three times! Imagine that – they deserve an applause! And after 60, they still have plenty more to do.
Your foot has 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. As you get older, these bones and joints degenerate and the protective subcutaneous fat pad in the sole also diminishes. Other factors such as ill-fitting footwear, excessive load or constant friction from physical activity all exacerbate foot conditions which can show up more after the age of 60. It’s also not uncommon to find arthritis, clawing of the toes, bunions, corns and calluses and nail problems in our older clients.
Maintaining flexible and healthy feet so that you can enjoy your lifestyle during your older years, requires a little extra care. By creating some good wellness habits at home, your feet will take you much further on the journey ahead.
1. Wear correct shoes
Choosing correctly fitting footwear is going to make the difference between walking around with a smile on your face or walking around tension in your brow. It’s important to balance fashion and comfort and today there are many options available from conscious footwear designers who provide both.
A well-fitting shoe will:
- Support your foot to walk correctly without rolling out to either side or putting unnecessary pressure on specific areas of the foot
- Cushion the foot to minimise the impact of hitting the ground through your body
- Help your feet to feel snug and secure as you go about your day, therefore supporting your spine
- Maintain good energy levels as the day goes on because your feet are properly aligned.
Related article: Ouch! 5 Consequences Of Wearing Incorrectly Fitting Shoes
2. Care for your shoes
Caring for your shoes is also important. Replace runners that have lost their cushioning and repair shoes that need new soles or fasteners to keep them snug and supporting your feet.
3. Good nail care
Toenails can become dry and brittle as you get older, and a little extra care will prevent ingrown toenails or fungus which can cause thick and mis-shaped toenails. Keep your toenails trim but not too short or too curved because they can grow inwards. The ideal length is 1-2 mm of the whites of your nails showing. Cut straight across and file very slightly at the edges to round them so that they don’t snag anything.
Attend to any discolouration immediately as this could be fungus growing. Your local chemist will have fungal creams, or you can visit us here at the clinic for an assessment with one of our podiatrists, especially if you have recurring toenail problems.
4. Enjoy a foot soak
A foot soak on a regular basis will soothe the mind, the body and the feet. Add a half cup of Epsom salts to warm water. If you want to you can also add some essential oils such as peppermint to refresh or lavender to relax. Soak your feet for 10 to 15 minutes, then dry them well and remove any excess water from between the toes.
5. Moisturise regularly
As you get older, the skin on your feet becomes drier and thinner. Use a thicker moisturiser made especially for feet which you can find at a chemist. Moisturise after a shower, which is the best time as your skin will more easily absorb the cream.
6. Check feet regularly
Prevention is better than cure. Checking your feet daily for cracks, sores, corns, calluses, warts, fungus or yellow toenails will keep bigger problems away and your feet in good ongoing health. If you have diabetes, then it’s even more important to check your feet daily.
Peripheral neuropathy is damage to the nerves most commonly seen in the feet of people with diabetes. It feels like stabbing or tingling pain that can be very uncomfortable. It can also create numbness which leads to further complications as people with peripheral neuropathy might injure their foot without realising.
Diabetes foot care and guidelines for healthy feet
7. Attend to any discomfort or pain
If you have any ongoing foot pain, we recommend addressing this as soon as you can. You may be experiencing foot pain for no apparent reason, or there may have been trauma you are aware of. Foot pain can occur for a variety of reasons including, neuromas, plantar fasciitis, plantar strain, or peripheral neuropathy.
8. Massage your feet at the end of the day
While you’re sitting on the couch, after a shower or before bed, give your feet a loving massage. Stretch out your toes, massage the soles of your feet and very gently pull each toe backward to stimulate circulation and increase the mobility and flexibility of your toes.
Your mind, body and feet will love you for it!
9. Maintain a healthy body weight
Keeping yourself fit, eating well and maintaining a healthy body weight will help your feet cope with the changes of ageing. Too much weight causes foot pain and potentially irreversible damage to the ligaments and tendons.
Related article: The 7 most common foot problems for people over 65
10. Keep walking
Walking is free, always available and can be done at any time of the day. If you can incorporate walking into your daily schedule by walking to the local shops, the post office or to other destinations nearby, then it becomes a part of your normal daily life rhythm. Just 15 minutes a day of walking provides a range of health benefits including a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cholesterol and high blood pressure. Walking also improves strength, flexibility and balance and emotional and mental wellbeing.
Related article: Get walking – and experience the many proven health benefits!
Visit a Sanders Podiatry Clinic in Linden Park, Stirling or Mt Barker
Make an appointment with one of our family friendly podiatrists who help many of our older clients with a wide range of foot conditions. We will recommend self help techniques at home for good foot health and advise on:
- Footwear ideally suited to the shape of your feet
- Diet and nutrition to help with conditions that affect your feet
- Hygiene practice to ensure your nails and footbed stay healthy