You probably don’t think much about the structure of your feet, unless they’re hurting. 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 Glendale Foot and Ankle Podiatry Center, our founder, Hermoz Ayvazian, DPM, FACFAS, QME, and our entire team, believe that patient education is one of the most important “steps” in maintaining great foot health. Because we’re in California, plenty of our patients lead active lives on the beach and on the hiking trails, 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.
Feet loosen up
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 easily 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.
Feet tighten up
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 are hammertoes and bunions. These conditions may develop or worsen because of overly tight tendons and ligaments that cause your feet to change shape.
Feet flatten out
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.
Feet don’t like extra weight
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.
Feet miss their fat
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.
Give us a call in Glendale or Burbank, California, if you’d like to learn more about how to keep your feet strong and healthy so you don’t have to throw out your favorite shoes (or develop foot problems as you age). To set up your appointment, call our office directly. You can also send a message to Dr. Ayvazian and the team here on our website today.