We often take our feet for granted – we walk, run, and play games on them – and hope that they will just keep working for us.

Unfortunately, as we age, several changes can occur in our feet and ankles that can have a significant impact on mobility and overall foot health.

Some of these ways include:

  1. Reduced flexibility and range of motion: As we age, the ligaments and tendons in the feet and ankles can lose elasticity, leading to decreased flexibility and a limited range of motion. This can make it harder to perform certain movements and it can increase the risk of falls and injuries.
  2. Fat pad thinning: The natural cushioning in our feet, provided by fat pads, tends to diminish over time. You may feel pain in the ball of your foot and heel which makes them more susceptible to conditions like plantar fasciitis or heel spurs.
  3. Our muscles in the feet and ankles can also weaken as we get older which may lead to our ankles becoming more unstable and leave us at a higher risk of sprains and strains.
  4. By the time you reach your 50th birthday, your feet may have walked you 75,000 miles or more. Wear and tear like this can bring an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis. This happens when cartilage, a flexible tissue that prevents friction, breaks down, resulting in bone rubbing against bone. This can affect mobility and quality of life.
  5. We may also suffer from reduced circulation which can lead to slower wound healing and a greater chance of infections and possibly foot ulcers.

A 2017 study that investigated foot problems in older adults concluded that foot problems decreased movement performance. It went on to say that early intervention and routine assessment and management of foot problems could alleviate the fear of falling in older people and reduce the risk of frailty. (Foot problems in older adults)

To mitigate the effects of aging on the feet and ankles, it’s important to take proactive steps to maintain foot health such as:

  • Engaging in regular foot exercises to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility.
  • Wearing supportive, properly fitting footwear with cushioning and arch support.
  • Practicing good foot hygiene, moisturising the skin, and trimming nails carefully.
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper weight management, and
  • Seeking prompt medical attention for any foot pain, swelling, or changes in foot appearance.

By taking care of your feet and addressing any issues promptly, you can enhance your mobility, reduce discomfort, and maintain better foot and ankle health as you age.

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