Do Feet Really Age?

People often think that by the time you reach your late 50s or 60s it's time to start purchasing "granny shoes", but this doesn't have to be the case.  Footwear is not dictated by age, but by your activity and comfort level.  This makes keeping your feet in good condition extremely important.  Choosing a comfortable, well-fitting shoe is the first step towards healthy feet, nevertheless, shoes are not the only factor in keeping your feet young.  Your feet are part of a big picture with a whole series of organ systems affecting the age and function of your foot.
 
Skin:  It is normal for skin to dry and wrinkle as you enter your 40s and 50s.  As part of the natural aging process, the collagen fibers which support your skin, dry out leading to wrinkles and dry skin.  In your foot this shows up as dry, cracked heels in addition to losing the fat pad padding the bottom of your foot.  It is important to use moisturizer and proper cushioning shoes to prevent excessive breakdown.
 
Veins:  Plaque and calcium buildup are the worst enemies of your veins.  As buildup increases, blood flow is reduced to your legs and feet.  This lack of normal flow causes a collection of fluid leading to swollen, tender feet and ankles.  Varicose or spider veins are also common due to a ballooning effect of the veins.  They form as veins lose their elasticity and blood collects within the vessels.  Try using lace-up shoes and elastic socks to help combat foot and ankle swelling.
 
Arthritis:  Your feet are very susceptible to this painful condition as each foot contains 33 joints and must carry the weight of your body every step.  Arthritis can cause loss of joint mobility leading to swelling, redness, and pain.  It is important to see your podiatrist if you notice stiffness in the early morning and achy feet throughout the day.  Your doctor can help prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and treatments to combat the pain associated with arthritis. 
 
Diabetes:  More often than not, diabetes first presents itself in the foot.  This is because diabetes first affects small blood vessels and nerves.  Your foot contains many of these small vessels and nerves as they are the furthest from your heart and brain.  This can lead to increased plaque and calcium buildup in addition to reduced nerve function.  In addition to regular checkups with a podiatrist, people with diabetes can reduce their risk of complications with daily foot exams.


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