Ironically, with today's youthful seniors, retirement often brings a more active lifestyle. Individuals who spent years working in sedentary occupations often find their activity level increases during retirement as they have time to travel, volunteer and spend more time enjoying their favourite athletic and leisure activities.
"To ensure you can continue to participate in all the activities you enjoy, we recommend you pay extra attention to your feet as lower limb pain often becomes more prevalent with age," says Peter Morcom, a Canadian Certified Pedorthist and president of the Pedorthic Association of Canada. "Fortunately, many foot problems can be prevented or eased with correct footwear choice, orthotics and care."
Feet undergo numerous changes as a normal part of aging. Here are four common conditions that come with age and how to treat them:
Change in shape and size – As we get older our muscles relax and ligaments lengthen causing the overall shape and size of our feet change. If you spent your career wearing high heels or fashionable, ill-fitting shoes you may also develop bunions, corns and hammertoes later in life. Shoes that had once been comfortable may start to rub or pinch
Solution – Get your feet professionally measured; you may require shoes that are half or a full size larger. If you have difficulty finding shoes that fit comfortably because of bony prominences or mis-shaped toes, book a consultation with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist. A foot orthotic and footwear expert, your Pedorthist will advise whether you require accommodative orthopaedic or modified shoes or foot orthotics.
Thinning of fat pads – Although many older individuals struggle with overall weight gain, as we grow older, the fatty pads on our heels and balls of our feet decrease or atrophy. The reduced padding means our feet have less cushioning to absorb the daily pounding making a day of standing or walking painful.
Solution – Custom made foot orthotics can help to redistribute the body's weight over the heel and ball of the foot where the fat pads should be. Cushioning materials reduce pressure under bony prominences and ease stress on high impact areas.
Stiffness and pain – Arthritis often sets in as we grow older leading to stiff, painful hips, knees, ankles and toes and general fatigue. Depending on which joints are affected, arthritis in the lower limbs and feet can reduce your mobility and in turn prevent you from participating in the activities you enjoy.
Solution – Regular exercise is critical; it lessens joint pain, increases strength and flexibility and reduces fatigue. If you have arthritis in your lower limbs include hip, knee and ankle bends, leg lifts, and toe spreads in your exercise routine. To maintain your comfort, protect your feet and improve your balance wear supportive, orthopaedic footwear. Custom foot orthotics can also help as recent research has shown they can reduce pain and increase comfort with medial knee arthritis.
Poor circulation – Age increases the risk of Type II diabetes, and diabetes can cause reduced circulation and loss of feeling in the lower limbs and feet. Reduced circulation and reduced sensation makes it difficult to feel small irritations or the development of blisters. Left untreated, small wounds can quickly become very serious and, in some extreme cases, may lead to amputation.
Solution – Inspect your feet daily and treat any irritations or wounds immediately. Carefully wash your feet, including between the toes, and pat them dry. If you have difficulty bending, use a mirror to inspect all areas of your feet for broken skin. To eliminate the risk of pressure or irritation from your footwear, visit your Canadian Certified Pedorthist to ensure you are wearing properly-fitted shoes.
After a lifetime of working hard, you deserve to enjoy all the benefits of retirement. Don't let sore feet or painful lower limbs slow you down. Book an appointment with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist and find out what footwear is appropriate for your feet and lifestyle needs and whether custom foot orthotics will benefit you. Visit pedorthic.ca/find-a-pedorthist/ to find a Canadian Certified Pedorthist near you.
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