The connection between weight and foot health
Day in and day out, your feet carry the entire weight of your body. Your weight places a tremendous amount of stress on your feet. When you carry extra weight, your body must try to find ways to compensate for the extra stress created placed upon it by the excess pounds. It is natural to change your posture and the way you walk (gait) when overweight in order to shift your center of gravity, minimize discomfort, and to try to continue with your normal activities. Unfortunately, these shifts in your posture and gait add even more pressure and strain to the normal stress endured by your ankles and feet. This in turn increases your likelihood of foot and ankle injuries. Excess weight puts you at risk for a number of chronic illnesses that may affect your overall health, but with added negative impacts on your foot health.
Excess weight + diabetes = unhealthy feet
It is not uncommon for overweight adults to develop type 2 diabetes. A common complication of diabetes and obesity is poor blood circulation, especially in the feet. When an overweight person with diabetes develops a foot injury, that injury may not be noticed right away. In turn, healing is slow or nonexistent, leading to skin wounds (ulcers) and infections. If such wounds and infections aren’t treated promptly, they can become serious. In the worst cases, amputation may be required.
Obese patients are also at risk for developing peripheral artery disease (PAD). In PAD, the arteries in the legs begin to accumulate plaques, hardened material that prevents the artery from pumping blood efficiently and that also restricts the amount of blood that can flow through the artery. The effects on the feet are similar to those of diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight may help reduce the risk of developing PAD, thus reducing the risk of damage to the feet.
Excess weight and foot injuries
Being overweight also puts you at serious risk for foot injuries. Carrying excess weight means extra strain on the bones, ligaments, and tendons in the feet and ankles. The extra weight bearing down on your feet increases inflammation, particularly on the plantar fascia (the band of tissue from the heel to the toes on the bottom of the foot) causing plantar fasciitis. You are also at greater risk of osteoarthritis and more sprains and strains than a person at a healthy weight. Multiple sprains and strains over time can lead to a build-up of scar tissue in the feet and ankles, leading to longer healing times and even more injuries.
Healthy weight + proper footwear = happy feet
Although a healthy weight can’t guarantee that you won’t suffer a foot-related injury at some time during your life, it can certainly help minimize your risk. If you are overweight, start taking steps towards a healthy weight and healthy feet. To minimize risk of injury, begin to lose weight slowly and discuss your weight loss plan with your doctor. The podiatrists at Kansas City Foot Specialists will help you to determine the current state of your foot health and how a healthy weight will help your feet.
In addition to working towards a healthier weight, the podiatrists at Kansas City Foot Specialists will help you to determine the best shoe for your chosen activities and lifestyle, including the proper fit. This may also include help in selecting the proper socks, unconventional lacing techniques to alleviate pressure over the top of the foot, and recommendation of arch supports or other types of orthotics.
By controlling your weight, you will have a direct impact on not only your overall health but also the health of your feet. Healthy, happy feet will enhance your ability to enjoy life by allowing you to get out into the world and participate in your favorite activities.
To make an appointment with a Kansas City Foot Specialists podiatrist in order to discuss your foot health, call us today at 913-338-4440.