Chances are you’ve never contemplated the structure of your feet. But each foot is composed of 26 bones and connective tissue. All that keeps every working part in place. Just as your favorite pair of shoes eventually breaks down, so can the components in your feet, causing them to change size and shape.
At Optima Foot and Ankle, Drs. Laura Schweger, Evan M. Ross, and their team believe that patient education is one of the most important “steps” in maintaining excellent foot health. Because we’re in Oregon, plenty of our patients lead active lives, running, hiking, and skiing, each putting their feet through rigorous paces.
Whether you’re a hiker, a walker, or a sit-downer, your feet change shape and size over time. Here’s how.
As you get older, simple wear-and-tear does a number on your feet. Each foot is made up of bones that are supported by various ligaments, tendons, and muscles. When you were younger, these soft tissues were highly elastic so that they could stretch and bounce back quickly with use.
Constant use over years and decades wears down the elasticity in your tendons, muscles, and ligaments. Think of your foot like a sock that’s lost its elasticity because of constant use and washing. Eventually, those tiny elastic bands snap, leaving the sock limp and unable to retain its shape.
Your feet can also change shape because your supporting ligaments and tendons are excessively tight. This is more likely to happen if you wear shoes that throw the inner structures of your feet off balance.
A good example of shape changes due to tight, supportive tissues or imbalanced shoes is hammertoes and bunions. These conditions may develop or worsen because of overly tight tendons and ligaments that cause your feet to change shape.
As an adult, you might develop a condition called flatfoot. Flatfoot typically occurs because of wear-and-tear in your posterior tibial tendon. This tendon is responsible for supporting your arches. When the posterior tibial tendon malfunctions, it can’t support your arch anymore, and your foot flattens.
You know you need to manage your weight to maintain your general health. But gaining weight also can cause structural changes in your feet. With gravity and the extra weight putting stress on your feet, they enlarge as your supportive tissues lose strength.
The pads on youthful feet have a healthy layer of fat that acts as a barrier between the ground and the foot’s inner structures. As you age, this fat tends to dissipate, which is why older people complain of tender feet. Losing that extra padding can also change the size and shape of your feet.
Call Optima Foot and Ankle at 541-383-3668 or request an appointment online to keep your feet feeling strong and healthy.