Think about it. If your feet don’t feel their best, especially as you age, a cascade of health-damaging events can happen. You might slow down – or, even worse, become truly sedentary. Then comes the weight gain, the slower metabolism, the reduced strength, and so on – all of which have the potential to lead to life-threatening conditions like cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorder, and diabetes that have patients coming to Laredo ER.
It makes sense, then, to keep your feet and legs in good shape – because healthy feet make for healthy living. What’s more, it’s thought that strong legs are linked to better brain health. And research shows that foot massage techniques can help relieve a variety of ailments, including anxiety and back pain.
But we at Laredo Emergency Room understand that building and maintaining strong legs and caring for your feet can seem like just something else to add to your to-do list, or maybe you don’t know where to start. Fortunately, it’s easier than you may think – and it starts with a few simple adjustments.
Start with supportive shoes. We know that in footwear, style is often a primary consideration, but with so much at stake, it’s much more important to select footwear for their comfort and support. Routinely wearing shoes that don’t properly support your feet – or, worse, pinch them into abnormal positions – can cause a variety of foot injuries and conditions ranging from bunions, corns to plantar fasciitis, and more. For healthy feet, choose well-fitting shoes with wider toe boxes, arch support, and low heels.
Prep them for exercise. Begin by warming up your feet with some brisk walking first. Then use your hands to pull your toes upward in a stretch, repeating 10 times for each foot, and then pull your toes downward toward the bottoms of your feet. You can also roll a tennis ball with your foot for a gentle, massaging stretch.
Try exercises that promote feet and leg health. Yoga and Pilates are great exercises for gently building strength in the leg muscles and can improve feet and leg circulation. Tai chi is a type of exercise that offers similar benefits and also has been shown to improve balance and reduce the incidents of falls in seniors. For targeted leg workouts, set aside a few minutes three to five times each week to do some tried-and-true leg exercises like lunges, squats, and leg lifts.
Lose weight if you need to. Excess weight can put a lot of stress on your lower body – and that includes your feet, which do the hard job of supporting your entire body. So, if you need to lose weight, make now the time you start working at it. Reducing your weight offers a host of health benefits for your entire body, from the feet up. And of course, if you’re already suffering from painful foot conditions that have affected your ability to stay active and strong, see your primary care physician. She will be able to advise you on next steps to take to get your feet in better health – and to ultimately keep you out of the emergency room