Everyday, our feet bear our entire body weight for hours at a time. We take an average of ten thousand steps a day, which is equivalent to being able to walk around the world four times. And on an average day of walking, our feet absorb hundreds of tons, comparable to a fully-loaded cement truck.
If that’s the case, do our feet suffer more if we gain weight?
Foot Problems and Weight: The Connection
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in the United States alone, more than 78 million (about 36 percent) adults and 12.5 million (about 17 percent) children are obese. One study discovered that 90 percent of individuals who are overweight suffer from heel pain.
The extra unnecessary weight damages joints and the bones in our feet. Various studies indicate that even an excess of ten pounds puts you at risk of having foot problems.
For example: osteoarthritis happens when the joints suffer from excessive pressure. Prevention is impossible and is part of aging. But with added weight, the joints in the knee and ankle suffer the most. Treatment and medication include anti-inflammatory substances, or workout and weight-loss regimes.
Other foot problems obesity or weight gain can cause are tendon inflammation, ball-of-foot-pain, feet and ankle sprains and fractures, as well as chronic heel pain. It is also common for overweight individuals to develop diabetes.
Those at risk of foot problems may resort to seeing podiatrists, registered dietitians, and nutritionists. Those who aren’t severely diagnosed have the option of shedding off those extra pounds on their own in hopes of going back to the ideal “healthy” weight.
This can be achieved by calculating your body mass index (BMI) and pairing it with a healthy diet. If your BMI is greater than 25, you are overweight. Remember that staying fit is 75 percent exercise and 25 percent food intake/nutrition. So trade those chips for nuts or fruits. Choose water instead of soda, juice or caffeinated drinks.
“How am I supposed to work out if my heel hurts?” You ask yourself, “It’s the main reason I even lack exercise.”
Another solution you can seamlessly include in your lifestyle is the use of comfortable and proper footwear. Having properly fitting shoes will give you more endurance when it comes to strenuous activities, like exercising or walking. It is more advisable to purchase a new pair of shoes in the afternoon because that’s when our feet are at their largest.
Unless you’re a candidate in the Biggest Loser, simple exercises such as walking are enough to help gradually improve circulation and control weight. Losing those few kilograms will make a big difference on the amount of strain put on the feet.
Here are some simple exercises and stretches suggested by Harvard Health to do in the comfort of your own home to shape up your feet and reduce weight-associated foot problems:
- For people with bunions: with heels on the ground, place a large rubber elastic around your big toes and rotate feet away from each other. This aims to increase the range of motion of the joints between the bones of the foot.
- To strengthen ankle muscles: place a resistance band around the leg of a table or a sturdy pole. Rotate your ankle while simultaneously stretching the band out.
- To strengthen toes muscles (in relation to old age): pick up small stones or marbles with your toes.
Doing these exercises daily can help alleviate foot problems caused by weight gain. Now, you have no excuse as to why you can’t put your best – and strongest – foot forward.