Ageing feet, how to help keep your feet comfortable and healthy.
Gary Eden owner of Genesis Podiatry is an HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council) registered Podiatrist and member of the College of Podiatry. He qualified at the Chelsea School of Chiropody in 1983, and returned to the north-east, joining the Chiropody department in North Tyneside.
Gary worked in North Tyneside as a podiatrist, gaining promotion through his experience and skills to become the lead podiatrist for the Diabetes Resource Centre, at North Tyneside General Hospital, a post he held for 17 years.
Gary then took on the challenge of managing the Chiropody / Podiatry teams at Gateshead Health NHS Trust and South Tyneside Foundation NHS Trust. The benefits of his managerial role he feels, were the management and organisation of a service, which covered a large population. The challenges were ensuring that the service provided a high quality, patient centred service which responded to the continual pressures within the NHS, such as high demand.
While a manager, Gary maintained his clinical skills and prides himself at ensuring that he provides the best possible service, with a very friendly professional and approachable manner.
On leaving the NHS Gary set up his own private practice, Genesis Podiatry, which offers treatments for foot conditions in your own home and our wellbeing centres located in North Tyneside. Having had 33 years NHS experience Gary Eden is able to provide a high quality service to people with foot ailments and conditions at a very reasonable price.
Gary explains why foot care in older people, especially during the winter months is important.
In general signs of ageing feet include more regular aches and pains, the development of bunions, signs of clawing of the toes along with general circulatory problems.
As we age, we naturally develop more problems with our feet due to normal daily wear and tear of joints, but also because the skin starts to become thin and loses its elasticity, as well as being dry and much more fragile.
Foot pain can be debilitating and can also lead to issues with walking and exercising, which are an important part of health and wellbeing as we age. If you are less mobile then this can impact on getting out and about and our involvement in social activities, which are so very important as we get older.
As long as you take routine care of our feet, serious problems can usually be avoided, however, ageing can also mean that we develop other conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis, which in some cases can affect the foot and lead to requiring treatment. Healing may also take longer.
How can I help myself?
Pain and uncomfortable feet aren’t an inevitable part of growing old or something to ‘put up with’. A lot can be done to improve comfort, relieve pain and maintain mobility by following these general rules:
- Keeping active and on the move helps to keep your feet (and legs) healthy – it tones up muscles, helps to strengthen arches and stimulates blood circulation.
- Keeping toenails cut and under control. Long toenails can press against the end of the shoe and the constant pressure can cause soreness, infection and ulceration. Toenails that have been poorly cut can also become ingrown.
- Check your feet daily and apply a moisturising cream to dry skin (but not between the toes) to them keep supple, as feet start to dry out and lose their natural oils as they age.
- Keeping warm is also important, by wearing warm stockings or socks can help but avoid anything too tight which can restrict your circulation or cramp your toes. Wearing fleece-lined boots or shoes or even an extra pair of socks will also keep you warm but do make sure your shoes aren’t tight as a result. Bed socks are also a good idea.
- Footwear is so important in keeping your feet comfortable and pain free. Wear a shoe which is comfortable, well-fitting and holds your foot firmly in place to give adequate support. A shoe which is held firmly on the foot with a lace, Velcro or functioning buckle gives more support and comfort. A pair of running shoes is a good option, as these provide a good amount of shock absorption and stability and also support the arch.
- Avoid plastic ‘easy clean’ uppers which don’t allow the foot to breath and won’t stretch to accommodate your own foot shape.
Corns and calluses on toes can be very painful, as are ingrown toenails and these are often associated with ill-fitting shoes, these can alter your gait and therefore increase overall discomfort. These can be treated by an appropriately qualified podiatrist who will also give tailored advice and assistance with all aspects of your foot health. Ensure your podiatrist is registered with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) as this ensures they have the appropriate training and qualifications to treat your feet.