There are certain aspects to cold weather months that actually increase your need for attentive foot care. More boots and fewer sandals mean you are going to be seeing your feet a lot less than normal and routine nail-trimming may fall to the wayside. Cold, wet weather like snow and ice can also leave your feet wet, freezing, and more susceptible to injury. Don’t miss this quick cold weather foot care guide for seniors:
Update Your Footwear
It’s no surprise that you should be thoughtful about the footwear you use when trekking out in inclement conditions like snow, ice, or freezing rain. In addition to keeping your feet comfortable and dry, well-fitting, waterproof shoes should also support your foot and ankle and provide some traction to help prevent you from slipping.
Be mindful of the types of socks you are wearing with your closed-toe shoes too. If you are trying to jam your foot into your everyday sneaker while wearing a thick, wool sock, you might be doing more harm than good. Not only will your shoe feel exceptionally tight, but your toes might be squished and walking may become uncomfortable. Make sure that you have a good pair of winter shoes or boots with adequate room for thick socks that provide comfort and support in addition to warmth.
Address Foot Pain
If you are an older adult experiencing foot pain, you’re not alone. In fact, research shows that approximately 1 out of 4 adults over 50 experience some form of foot pain. Because your feet are your primary weight-bearing appendages, any form of pain or injury to them can increase your risk for falling and for disability. Combine this with the icy, slick conditions of winter and you have a potential recipe for disaster.
Addressing foot pain is one of the primary facets of good foot care. Oftentimes, foot pain due to common conditions like plantar fasciitis, bone spurs, bunions, or hammertoes can be aided by conservative measures like wearing orthotic aids, massage, and physical therapy. Just remember, if you wear insoles to decrease the chances of pain in your heel or to aid some other foot ailment, make sure that they fit snugly but comfortably with the thick socks and sturdy shoes you sport during cold weather months.
Like with all your other body parts, moisturizing the skin on your feet is especially critical during fall and winter. Cooler air is drier air and dry air tends to pull moisture out of your skin faster that humid air. You may have even noticed an uptick in dry, flaky patches of skin on your body as winter approaches.
If a peeling or flaky patch of skin on your foot turns into an open sore, you both increase your chance of getting an infection as well as become more prone to falling as a sore foot can inhibit your normal gait. Make a plan to moisturize your feet this fall and winter to keep skin strong, supple, and flexible.
Experts recommend moisturizing feet after you have thoroughly cleaned and dried them (i.e. after a shower). Use a foot-care specific moisturizer if you can find one, specifically one without ingredients like fragrances and alcohol which have drying out effects. Once moisturized, cover your feet with a clean pair or breathable cotton socks to lock the moisture in.
Stretch and Strengthen
Keeping your feet strong and flexible can play an important role in helping you maintain your mobility; one of the best ways to do this is with exercise. Not only do leg and feet exercises help maintain good blood circulation to these important appendages, but it reinforces the crucial muscles and tendons your body relies on for good body mechanics, not to mention fortifying your bones to protect against breaks and fractures.
Some good feet-specific exercises may include yoga practice, walking, stationary cycling, and dancing. You can also do very simple activities on your own at home to strengthen your feet and toes:
Pick up strewn marbles or pencils with your toes and drop into a nearby bucket on the ground
Point and flex each of your feet ten times each and repeat
Roll a small ball (like a tennis ball) or filled water bottle back and forth under your foot
Sitting in a chair, do alternating heel lifts with each foot
If you needed another excuse to pamper yourself, blame cold weather. Your feet need rejuvenation just like the rest of your body and few things feel as good during the fall and winter months as a warm foot bath, pedicure, and foot massage. Simple pampering sessions can help you tend to routine nail care like trimming nails and well, they just feel good!