Recently retired or counting down the days? While the thought of retirement and being able to spend our days enjoying activities like golf, long walks and ample time with the grandkids is very exciting, there’s an unspoken catch: to maximise your involvement in all the physical activities you enjoy, you’ve got to stay mobile and comfortable on your feet.
Unfortunately, with more Australians retiring later in life,1 the natural changes that occur to our bodies with age, and the cumulative effects of spending over half a century on our feet, there is a significant risk that your feet may not be able to keep up with your retirement plan. Today, our podiatrists have shared five things you can start doing today to help your feet stay working well long after you retire, so you can fill your days with doing the things you love.
Use It to Not Lose It
There’s a misconception that when we move, the regular use of our joints and body may lead to pain. In fact, the opposite is true – by staying active, we reduce the risk of both physical pains and problems by maintaining muscle and bone strength, as well as lowering our risk for a number of health-related conditions ranging from arthritis to heart disease and diabetes.2
As an example, studies have shown that if you have osteoarthritis in your knee, light to moderate exercise can have both preventive and therapeutic benefits.3 So aim to incorporate at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every week, like brisk walking, and reap rewards including a significant reduction in the risk of movement disabilities.4
Self Care At Home
When it comes to care at home, even small daily actions have been proven to have a positive impact on the health of your feet.5 Steps to care for your feet at home can be as simple as:
- Washing and drying the feet well each day
- Completing simple foot exercises to aid balance and ankle flexibility
- Wearing socks and shoes that fit and are made of appropriate materials for stability, security and for shock absorption
- Managing your toenails and the skin on your feet
- Moisturising to promote skin elasticity
- Checking your feet daily through self-examination and with a mirror, and alerting your podiatrist if you notice any changes or anything unusual
30% of Australian adults aged over 65 years have a fall every year – and this figure is rising.6 Up to 60% of those that have falls will suffer injuries like fractures and sprains. These injuries can significantly affect your mobility, and with longer healing and recovery times due to natural age-related changes, you may quickly begin to lose it if you don’t use it.
Helping prevent falls often involves addressing problems around balance, stability and strength in the feet and legs. Here at My FootDr, this may involve balance and foot strength exercises, as well as using good, supportive shoes with custom stabilising orthotics inside the home. If you’ve never had a fall and are considered low-risk, orthotic slippers are a great option. Treating any problems like corns, calluses and pain is also crucial as when we feel discomfort on our feet, we change the way we walk to a style that attempts to avoid or minimise the discomfort, which may throw off our balance. Stretching programs can also be of great help.
Once you have had one fall, you have a much higher risk of having a second one. Falls can have significant and life-threatening consequences which is why we are so passionate about doing all we can to help prevent falls in the first place.
Addressing Contributing Factors Early
Every third older person has at least one foot problem.7 These problems range from swelling in the feet and ankles, to corns and calluses, thick and discoloured toenails, and bunions. Compounded with the problem of not having the flexibility, strength, tools and knowledge to reach our feet to adequately care for problems, they can quickly get out of control, becoming very painful.
Treating contributing factors or problems early, while still a slight niggle or mild ache, can prevent them from becoming a serious, restrictive issue that limits your ability to stay active and enjoy all your retirement activities. If it’s not something you can effectively care for, see your podiatrist. Many issues like corns and calluses only require one appointment to treat. Your podiatrist can also identify any other issues you may not have noticed, like cuts on the underside of the foot that are failing to heal and so are vulnerable to ongoing infections.
When a foot problem develops, there is nearly always a reason behind it. Understanding this reason means you can help prevent the same sets of circumstances that caused the problem, saving yourself the pain, hassle, time and money involved in treating it again in the future.
Educating you on the how’s, why’s and what’s is a priority for us here at My FootDr. Anytime we see a patient, we always take time to listen to how the problem is affecting you and discuss what we think the problem is. We explain likely factors contributing to the problem, causes and how to both treat and reduce the likelihood of the problem from recurring.
Your treatment plan will focus on both alleviating your symptoms and treating the current problem, as well as putting the right measures in place to reduce the likelihood from it happening again. For example, this may look like changing to a supportive and stabilising pair of shoes, redistributing pressure away from a specific area of your feet or using the right brace to help your ankles – we have a wide range of treatment options available.
Keeping Australians On Their Feet
My FootDr is proud to have been trusted to keep Australians on their feet for over 20 years. If you’ve recently retired or are approaching retirement age with the goal of staying healthy and active for many more years to come, come in and see our experienced podiatry team. Book your appointment online here or call us on 1800 FOOT DR.