How Obesity Affects Your Feet

February 11, 2020 • • Uncategorized

Obesity doesn’t just affect the heart — it can harm the feet, as well. 

Carrying extra pounds damages our cardiovascular system, possibly leading to stroke or heart attack. But obesity doesn’t just affect our hearts; it affects our entire body, including our feet.
Managing our weight is important for many reasons, but it’s especially beneficial for our hardworking feet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines obesity as a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30. When we walk or climb stairs, our feet absorb the added pressure of those extra pounds, leading to achy feet and other orthopedic disorders. Painful feet may force a change in posture and gait that wrenches the ankles, hips, and knees out of alignment, causing pain. 

Common Foot Problems Associated with Obesity

Extra weight stresses the tendons and ligaments of the feet and ankles, causing inflammation and pain. It also increases the risk of developing one of these four common foot problems linked to obesity:

Plantar Fasciitis. Stretching from the heel to the toes, the plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that supports the foot as we walk. Excess weight can strain this tissue and causes plantar fasciitis, a condition marked by severe heel pain.

Posterior Tibial Tendonitis. The posterior tibial tendon connects the calf muscles to the inside the foot. When this tendon becomes irritated or torn, the arch of the foot falls, resulting in ankle swelling and pain when walking. A sudden sports injury or chronic overuse typically causes posterior tibial tendonitis, although obesity can be a major contributor.

Gout. Obesity increases the risk of health conditions that secondarily affect the foot. One of those conditions is gout, a form of arthritis sometimes brought on by obesity and a diet high in certain types of foods, including shellfish, red meat, and sugar-laden drinks — all of which produce an excess amount of uric acid. When the kidneys cannot filter uric acid from the body, the acid builds up and forms crystals that inflame the joints, particularly the toes.

Diabetes. Similar to gout, obesity is linked to diabetes, a chronic illness that affects foot health. Diabetes restricts blood flow to the feet, which in turn causes neuropathy. A form of nerve damage, neuropathy is characterized by tingling, pain, and sometimes a loss of sensation in the feet. People with diabetes heal slowly from cuts and bruises and are oftentimes unaware of a foot injury. Consequently, any wound could quickly become infected and potentially necessitate an amputation of the foot or toes if gangrene sets in.

Caring For Your Feet

Maintaining a weight that’s in proportion with your height is vital to protecting your feet, and diet and exercise are two of the biggest players when it comes to healthy weight. Although it can be difficult to exercise with painful feet, if you’re overweight and experience chronic foot pain, a podiatrist can help you create an exercise program that puts less stress on the feet. In general, low-impact aerobic activities such as water aerobics and stationary cycling burn calories and are easy on the feet. 

When you work out, your feet need extra support. Supportive shoes, padded socks, and custom-made orthotics that support the arch ease pain and make exercising more enjoyable. 
People with diabetes must be sure to clean their feet and watch for any signs of infection. They should also protect their feet from lacerations by wearing shoes and socks at all times. Regular examinations by a podiatrist are essential to keep on top of any potential foot problems due to diabetes.

Get Back on Your Feet

At Alamitos-Seal Beach Podiatry Group, our staff of specialists treat a variety of foot conditions, from diabetic foot issues to fallen arches. If you’re experiencing painful feet, we can help you determine the cause and suggest treatment options. Contact our office today for an appointment.

Request an Appointment

Fill out the form below to reach Alamitos – Seal Beach Podiatry Group, or call Los Alamitos: (562) 203-6151 or Seal Beach: (562) 242-1559 for immediate assistance.

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