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That Extra 10 Pounds: Does it Matter to Your Feet?

It all lands on your feet

Your feet are amazing! You have 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, more than 100 muscles, and a superhighway of vessels and nerves!

The average 130-pound human being places as much as 1.5 million pounds of weight on their feet each day!! Now add ten pounds to each step — we’re talking millions of extra pounds per day on your feet just for being a little on the heavier side!

What those extra pounds mean

It’s not quantum physics. More weight equates to more stress on all those joints, ligaments, and muscles. One study suggested that even just five to ten extra pounds can lead to foot maladies. So, for a little added incentive to slim up, here are five painful effects that being overweight can have on your feet.

  1. 1. Flat Feet. More weight can strain and weaken the ligaments that keep your arches highly arched.
  2. 2. Gout. Typically, gout manifests as pain in the big toe, or foot and ankle joints. It’s caused by the accumulation of uric acid which, unfortunately, your body makes more of when you’re overweight.
  3. 3. Plantar fasciitis. Your plantar fascia is a long ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes. The greater the load, the more likely you are to experience a stabbing pain in your heels.
  4. 4. Tibial tendonitis. The long tendon extending down the back of your legs, to the inner ankles and feet is called the tibialis posterior tendon. As you’ve probably guessed, it also bears the burden of those extra pounds.
  5. 5. Changes in posture. Just like when you’re lugging a heavy bag of groceries, carrying extra body mass causes us to modify our gait. Not only can this make walking less efficient, it also leads to problems from your arches, on up to the hips and back.

Solving the Catch 22: how to lose weight when your feet hurt

Most exercising involves your feet, so what do you do when your feet are out of order and you need to lose weight? Fortunately, it’s not as desperate as it might seem. Podiatrists and nutritionists have a wide range of options to help get you moving.

  1. 1. Swimming and water aerobics. Swimming laps is excellent low impact exercise. As with anything underwater, every move faces increased resistance. Water aerobics, or even just walking in a pool, allows you to get your heart rate up without putting too much pressure on your feet.
  2. 2. Cycling. Whether it be a spin class, or a cruise through your neighborhood, biking is low impact, and so enjoyable you’ll start to think differently about the word “exercise.”
  3. 3. Custom orthotics. A little extra support for those tendons can give them the rest they need to heal, without keeping you glued to the couch.
  4. 4. Stretches and exercises. Your podiatrist might offer treatment that improves flexibility and strengthens your feet to bring those stompers back into form.
  5. 5. Food. The word “diet” might have scared readers, however, changes to the way we eat alone can have a dramatic effect on weight loss.

Know your feet

Every foot is different, and each of us carry our weight according to our skeletal structure. Knowing how your feet handle it all, allows you to get the most out of your magnificent duo. If you’re experiencing weight related mobility issues, scheduling a consultation with Dr. Coletta might be the first step toward getting your life back.

Nina L. Coletta, DPM, PA

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