A lot of women in their 40s have foot problems related to their history of bad shoe choices.
High heels, flip-flops, and flimsy flats can be abusive to your feet, and they can contribute to inflammation of tendons, ligaments, and fascia; stress fractures; and deformities such as bunions and hammertoes down the line so if it seems like your feet feel achier than you remember, you’re probably not imagining it.
Over time, age-related physiological changes occur and affect how your bones, tendons, and joints function. With aging, the body’s ligaments and tendons lose their flexibility and strength.
While you may have been able to ignore any discomfort these shoes caused you in the past, age-related foot changes can make the pain less tolerable now. When you’re in your 40s, the fat pads in your feet gradually start to get thinner, so you have less natural cushioning than you once did. While this loss is inevitable, making better footwear choices can help minimize aches and pains.
In feet over 40, this appears as flattening of the arch and lengthening the foot and toes. This usually results in a half-size or more increase in shoe size.
Get your feet measured
If you’ve had kids, your feet may now be a half or full size bigger. That’s because the weight you gain during pregnancy increases the pressure on your feet; this flattens your arches slightly, which lengthens your feet. Squeezing your feet into too-tight shoes may make you more likely to develop bone and joint deformities, so make sure you’re buying the right size.
Don’t live in high heels
Wearing them daily can cause the Achilles tendon to shrink, which increases your risk of injury while doing activities in flat shoes. Moderation is key. If you wear shoes with 2-inch heels or lower most of the time, you can afford to wear higher ones occasionally.
Choose your flats wisely
It’s not just skyscraper stilettos that can damage your feet—wearing flats with inadequate cushioning and arch support can lead to heel and arch pain. Before you buy a pair of flats, try to bend them to gauge their support. Shoes should only bend at the ball of the foot, never in the middle. Shopping for flip-flops? Look for sturdy, cushioned ones with foot beds from companies such as FitFlop or Birkenstock. Just don’t wear them for long periods of time. Flip-flops, even high-quality ones, were never intended to be ‘walking around’ shoes.
Skin changes are common aging-feet problems, especially in feet over 40. These can be changes in texture, dryness, or lesions on the skin. Dry sole is a common problem that results from reduced cushioning on the foot’s sole due to fat loss that occurs as feet age. When the fat pads on the bottom of the feet diminish with age, this places additional stresses on the skin, which dries out and cracks. This is also the reason why the feet often feel sore at the end of the day.
Cracked heels and calluses can make it painful to walk or even stand. Staying hydrated and using a moisturizing foot cream twice daily may help protect feet from drying out and prevent cracking and infection.