Many people overlook their feet when it comes to improving mobility. We all know that staying fit by stretching, pushing weights, and cardio workouts keep us mobile into the senior years. In fact, staying active has been identified as a primary aspect of living past 100 well; but taking care of your feet is a key factor in staying mobile.

Move it or lose it, is the age-old adage that rings true when it comes to mobility, health and longevity. “As you age, healthy feet become even more important for staying mobile, active, and safe,” says Dr. Kevin Reimer, a podiatrist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “When it hurts to walk, you cut back on activities that you enjoy and that keep you healthy.”

As we age, there are many problems that can limit mobility, where the feet are concerned, including fasciitis, tendinitis, bunions, arthritis, and more. Taking some simple precautions when it comes to foot care, can help improve mobility and lend itself to a better level of health in the senior years.

Here are 5 ways to ensure proper foot care for seniors by Harvard Health:

1. Avoid obesity. Being overweight has a negative impact on health in many ways, from increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other age-related illnesses (such as Alzheimer’s disease), to putting you more at risk for arthritis. Obesity puts a higher level of force on the feet as you walk, increasing the risk of arthritis of the feet. Diabetes and poor circulation can lead to foot pain, loss of sensation, and could even result in the necessity for amputation of toes.

2. Make sure you have good fitting shoes. Wearing comfortable shoes with good support is vital for healthy feet, particularly if you are on your feet for long periods of time. Ill-fitting shoes are responsible for many foot conditions, including, foot pain, calluses, corns, bunions and more. Harvard Health offers a 10-step detailed report on how to ensure you are buying the right shoes for optimal foot health.

3. Inspect your feet daily for signs of skin breakdown. Keep the feet moisturized using shea butter or a special skin moisturizer made for feet. Shea butter comes from the nuts of the shea tree from West Africa. According to Dr. Axe, it is, “Full of all-natural vitamin A, 100 percent pure, unrefined, raw shea butter aids in numerous skin conditions such as blemishes and wrinkles, stretch mark prevention during pregnancy, muscle fatigue, dermatitis, and radiation treatments for certain medical problems.” Shea butter is very hydrating, and it is a quick and effective method of softening the feet.

4. Keep your feet clean and dry. When you trim the toenails, be sure to cut them straight across to avoid ingrown toenails. People with diabetes should not cut their own nails, but rather, should have the podiatrist inspect their feet and cut the nails on a regular basis. Use a pumice stone to gently remove any calluses and then apply ample, thick moisturizer (such as shea butter).

5. Exercise your feet. When it comes to stretching, most people overlook the feet, but stretching the tops, bottoms and the Achilles tendon, helps to promote overall foot health.
Although many foot problems are hereditary, there are avoidable conditions (such as corns and calluses) that can be fixed by simply ensuring you have proper fitting shoes.

Foot Care for Corns and Calluses

A corn is a thickening over an area of the skin, usually over the bony portion of the toe that is caused by friction from shoes that do not fit well. Home remedies for corns include:

-Ensure you have shoes that fit well

-Use a pumice stone to remove calluses by:

  1. Soaking feet before going to bed for 15 minutes in warm water
  2. Using the pumice stone to gently massage the affected area for at least 5 minutes.
  3. Drying the feet thoroughly
  4. Applying sesame oil to the callus and leave it overnight
  5. Foot Care for Bunions
    Bunions are protrusions of the side of the foot (near the big toe). They may be hereditary, or caused by wearing shoes that are too narrow at the toes—causing bunching of the toes. Over time, this can result in the big toe leaning to the side, eventually causing bunions. Bunions can also result from misaligned foot bones.

    Home remedies for bunions:

    -Buy shoes with wide toes to relieve the pressure on the bunion

    -Purchase a toe separator to correct the inward curvature of the toe

    Surgical correction may be necessary if other measures to correct foot conditions are not effective. If you have any problems with your feet that are not resolved by home remedies and natural foot care, see a podiatrist for medical intervention.


    Resources

    1. Harvard Health. 10 tips for finding the right shoes.
    https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/10-tips-for-finding-the-right-shoes

    2. Dr. Axe. Repair skin and boost collagen with raw shea butter. https://draxe.com/raw-shea-butter/

    3. Harvard Health. 5 ways to keep feet healthy for better mobility. https://www.health.harvard.edu/balance-and-mobility/keep-your-feet-healthy-for-better-mobility