Don't let age be an excuse to slow down

(NC) If you think a sore hip, painful knees or aching feet are a sign you should slow down, you're not alone. However, experts say reducing your activity levels may be the wrong decision, particularly if you are a senior.

“Many older adults stop exercising regularly because they are experiencing lower limb pain, think they're too old or are concerned about falling,” explains Peter Morcom, a Canadian certified pedorthist and president of the Pedorthic Association of Canada. “But reducing your activity levels without consulting your healthcare provider can have serious consequences on your physical and mental health.”

There are plenty of benefits of regular physical activity as you age—exercise can help improve balance; decrease the risk of falls; reduce weight gain; and improve bone, cardiovascular and mental health. Many seniors should be increasing their physical activity level rather than decreasing it.

“Although certain injuries do require a period of rest so they can heal, persistent hip, knee and foot pain and balance problems can often be significantly improved with proper footwear and foot orthotics,” says Morcom.

Here's how you can solve some common pain and mobility issues:

Ease the pressure. A career spent in high heels or fashionable, ill-fitting shoes can often lead to bunions, corns and hammertoes later in life. Certified pedorthists can recommend more comfortable shoes or make shoe modifications and orthotics to reduce the pressure on these painful areas.

Get a professional fitting. As we age, our feet change in shape and size, and the fat pads on our heels and the balls of our feet may decrease. Getting your feet measured and fitted by a foot professional will ensure you are wearing the correct size and style of shoe for your specific needs.

Try foot orthotics. Age increases the risk of type II diabetes, which can cause reduced circulation and loss of feeling in our lower limbs and feet—a small irritation can quickly become a painful foot ulcer that takes months to heal. Foot orthotics can offload pressure from the wounded area.

Even if pain is not an issue, Morcom advises all seniors to wear properly fitted, supportive shoes with good treads as they provide maximum support and comfort and will enable you to remain active longer.

Find more information at www.pedorthic.ca.

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