TLC For The Soles: 7 Ways To Help Your Aching, Aging Feet

When your feet hurt, your whole life can be thrown upside down, as you try to figure out how to manage every step of the day. As you get older, though, feet can become even more of an issue, making extra TLC more important than ever.

1. Know Your Foot Size - It May Have Changed

Just because you've worn a certain size your entire life, doesn't mean you'll stay in that size forever. Your feet can stretch, settle and otherwise, extend their size to the point where you'll need to have them measured again to determine the appropriate-sized shoes for you. With the passing of time, your tendons and ligaments become softer and less taught, which can cause the bottom of your feet to flatten right out, in which case, you may also need a wider shoe size.

Whatever is going on with your feet, don't ignore it when you shop for shoes. Tell a store attendant that your feet have changed and ask them to determine what your new measurements are. Don't be so penny-wise that you refuse to throw your old, now ill-fitting shoes out, either, as continuing to wear them to save money will only cost you in the long run, when your feet are so sore you can't walk around comfortably.

2. Wear Your Shoes Indoors

Although kicking off your shoes as soon as you walk through the doors of your home may be a habit of comfort and freedom, it may not be in your best interest anymore. This is because going barefoot or simply wearing socks may compromise your balance somewhat, leaving you more vulnerable to falls. A good pair of shoes not only supports your feet, they help you to maintain your balance, too.

As disappointing as it may be to be forced to wear shoes indoors, forgo the socks, slippers and bare feet, to keep you safer.

3. Ask Your Podiatrist About Orthotics

Orthotics, or specialized shoe inserts, can be custom-made or pre-fab, but either could be very helpful in alleviating common foot pain, as well as working to stabilize your balance. They can redistribute the pressure your feet are under, so that there's not so much pressure at one particular point. Because orthotics can have such a major impact on feet, you should check with your podiatrist first, to investigate the underlying cause(s) of your foot pain, first, and to make sure they're the right apparatus for your particular ailment.

Additionally, since custom-made orthotics can become very expensive, you want to make sure you're not wasting your money on them, if what you really need is some other form of treatment.

4. Try Exercises Just For Your Feet

As your feet settle and stretch and change over the years, they also become weaker. Muscles can actually shrink on you, leaving you more vulnerable to certain ailments and injuries, including falls, due to lower performing foot components. Investigate the promise of foot and ankle exercises, to alleviate pain and discomfort and to ensure your feet are serving you well for a long time to come. If you're experiencing minor issues with poor balance, there are recommended exercises for that, too.

If you have any serious injuries, diabetes or other pre-existing situation, check with your physician or podiatrist before engaging in foot or balance exercises, just to be on the safe side.

5. Get Pedicures For Health Reasons

While most people might consider pedicures a luxury, they can actually be good for you for health reasons. Keeping your toenails trimmed may prevent infection, as there's less nail material to harbor bacteria and dirt. Longer toenails can penetrate surrounding skin, too, leaving painful cuts. Ingrown nails, where the toenail actually becomes embedded in your skin, are more likely if you fail to trim regularly. For many, especially those who may have difficulty reaching toes with the stability necessary to accurately groom the nails, a professional pedicure can be very helpful

6. Understand The Dangers Of Poor Circulation

Painful, numb and/or tingling feet can be an indication of poor circulation, which may mean you need to get more exercise; however, symptoms of poor circulation can go beyond that. Circulation is an essential part of your overall health, especially as you get older. If your toes or feet are feeling numb, this could be an indication of peripheral artery disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, which makes regular foot checkups an important part of your regular healthcare regimen.

7. Don't Automatically Accept Foot Pain As A Consequence Of Aging

Even if you're the strong, silent type, who isn't likely to complain about your daily aches and pains, be careful when dismissing foot problems. Your feet are an obvious necessity for leading a full and normal life, but they can also be telling you something else is amiss with your body, such as a thyroid problem, blood-glucose irregularities, endocarditis (a potentially dangerous infection in your heart), intestinal disease or even lung cancer. It's important to listen to your feet and get to a podiatrist, so they can interpret what your feet may be saying.

Give your soles a little more TLC, especially now as you face more of the challenges of getting older. Like most anything, the more you learn about your feet, the better you can take care of them, and in turn, the better care they'll take of you.