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What is the Effect of Obesity on the Feet?

by MASS4D® Insoles

Managing weight problems has become more important now than ever before, considering the rate at which obesity seems to be spreading in the world.

According to the World Health Organization, obesity has tripled around the world since 1975, with numbers expected to go higher.

Being such a common problem, it is helpful to understand the impact of obesity on the feet. After all, your feet support the weight of your whole body everyday.

With extra weight constantly placed on the feet, there is a risk of developing foot problems over time. This makes it necessary to lose the additional weight and prevent these problems from becoming worse.

Obesity and Foot Problems
Excess weight can lead to weakening of the foot arch.

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What obesity does to your feet 

Not only does obesity have an effect on your overall health and wellbeing, it can also cause changes in your foot structure.

Your foot arch plays an important role in supporting your bodyweight, and absorbing shock forces that are produced from the ground up during movement.

This helps in protecting your feet from overuse injuries or painful foot conditions.

With excessive weight on the feet, the arch slowly weakens and starts flattening on to the ground. This is why it is common for people with obesity to have flat feet.

Flat feet or flat arches are unable to properly distribute weight throughout the bones in the foot, leading to ‘pockets of stress’ in different areas of the foot.

If you leave your flat arches untreated, these ‘pockets of stress’ can gradually become inflamed, making it painful for you to stand or walk.

Fallen arches can also cause changes in the functioning of the feet, particularly a flexible ligament called the plantar fascia which helps in shock absorption.

As the foot arch collapses, the spring-like plantar fascia struggles to work efficiently and is forced to over-stretch beyond its normal limit. This happens each time your foot hits the ground, making the ligament inflamed over time.

This gradually becomes a condition called plantar fasciitis which is frequently reported by obese individuals.

Plantar Fasciitis

A study by Dr Karen Mickle from the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living highlights the impact of obesity on foot health in participants over the age of 60 years. It was found that foot pain was common amongst the participants.

Participants also showed slower walking speed, lower stride length, and reduced ankle strength. This highlights the importance of the relationship between bodyweight and foot health.

It is highly advisable to lose the excess weight before the onset of such painful foot conditions that can make it increasingly difficult for you to pursue an active lifestyle.

Since obesity often results in diabetes as well, a diabetic foot can cause its own set of problems such as ulcers, loss of sensation, burning pain and infections.

Damage to the nerves can weaken the muscles in the bottom surface of the foot, making it difficult for the person to walk.

This can create problems for an obese person trying to lose weight and who is at a higher risk of cardiac diseases. It is also likely that a combination of diabetes and obesity may eventually cause a flatfoot posture to develop.

The risk of developing conditions like Achilles tendinitis and osteoarthritis is also greater in obese people than it is in individuals with healthy weight.

These conditions can arise because of the added stress on the feet, and the changes in walking patterns caused by it.

Foot Pain Relief, Injury Prevention, Better Posture and Sports Performance in One Insole     buy now

What you can do for your feet 

There is a no one solution to obesity, and treatment plans will differ from person to person based on several factors. These include age, BMI, current health problems, medical history, hereditary factors, and more.

Losing weight is not easy but there are certain steps you can take for your feet while you’re getting in shape.

In addition to following a strict diet and exercise, you can also practice arch strengthening exercises for your feet.

A good example of this is the towel scrunch. This involves placing a towel under each foot (one at a time) and grabbing it by the toes until you reach the edge.

This helps in stabilising fallen arches and building strength to prevent the arches from collapsing.

Since calf tightness is another factor that can lead to flattened arches, stretching your calves is also a good idea.

For this, simply sit on the floor with your legs straight out in the front. Put a towel around the ball of the foot, grab the edges and gently pull the towel for five seconds.

Calf Stretch Towel

Repeat this exercise four-five times for each foot until you feel your calves loosening up.

If you have a diabetic foot, consider regularly monitoring your blood sugar levels and visiting a specialist for a personalised treatment programme.

It would be best to avoid wearing tight-fitting shoes as these will only place additional strain on the feet and increase the risk of falls.

The increase in heel height can impact the mobility and function of the feet in multiple ways. As there is greater distribution of weight on the forefoot, the pressure on the ball of the foot increases.

At the same time, the range of motion in the ankle is limited because of the heel height which reduces support from the heels. This creates instability and increases the risk of ankle injuries.

Most high-heeled shoes have a narrow toe box, which compresses the toes. As there is already excessive pressure on the toes and the ball of the foot, women who regularly wear narrow, high-heeled shoes are more likely to develop foot structure problems like bunions than women who wear flat shoes.

They are also exposed to conditions like metatarsalgia, Morton’s Neuroma, and hammertoes.

Foot massages may help to a certain extent because of improved blood flow which can help bring down swelling and ease pain.

Foot Massage

It is better to opt for footwear with enough room for your feet to move and function properly.

The American Podiatry Medical Association (APMA) recommends shoes that provide adequate/good cushioning at the forefoot to allow the toes to relax.

In case the foot pain is unbearable, speak to your doctor and see if he recommends painkillers or injections for relief.

Try applying an ice pack on the painful region for 10-15 minutes every hour until the pain reduces. This will also help in decreasing any swelling in the region.

The golf ball roll is a pain-relieving exercise that can help improve blood flow and reduce pain in the foot. Simply roll a golf ball under your foot for 2-5 minutes.

MASS4D® Custom Insoles can help your feet

Supportive care is essential for the treatment of flat arches because without the right kind of support, your feet will continue moving in an unhealthy manner.

MASS4D® Insoles can be customised according to your bodyweight. This means, the orthotic will be sturdy enough to sufficiently carry the weight of your body without collapsing.

Unlike regular insoles in the market, your MASS4D® custom insoles will last longer and remain effective throughout all kinds of movement

You won’t have to worry about comfort since these insoles will be made for your unique foot structure. This will allow easy movement of your feet while providing support to fallen arches.

Corrective Support

In case you have diabetic feet, a special double-cushioned Bi-Lam cover can be included in your orthotic to protect your feet from blisters and ulcers.

An advantage of having this type of insole in your shoe means that your feet will have adequate heel and forefoot support to reduce pressure on the bottom of the foot.

Foot problems such as flat feet can be likely causes of diabetic foot ulcers. Flat feet cause uneven distribution of pressure to the feet as the foot arch flattens onto the ground. This increases the risk of inflammation in the stress-prone areas of the foot.

Diabetic feet should be taken seriously and appropriate steps must be followed to prevent the condition from worsening. Managing blood glucose levels and observing a daily foot care regimen can help keep the feet healthy.

Customised foot insoles such as MASS4D® can be recommended to provide proper cushioning and promote normal distribution of weight throughout the feet.

This reduces stress on the bottom surface of the foot which is crucial in preventing ulcers and infections from getting worse.

MASS4D® custom insoles support the feet in the corrected posture, providing the support needed to promote balance and optimal distribution of weight. The insoles allow the plantar fascia ligament to relax which can help reduce pain in the bottom of the feet.

So, you can continue remaining active and reaching your weight-loss goals without the pain of foot conditions to slow you down.

Since a high level of customisation is required to produce your MASS4D® custom insoles, you should visit a certified MASS4D® provider who will analyse your feet and recommend the perfect pair of MASS4D® Insoles for you.

Connect with us and we’ll help you find a MASS4D® provider in your area.

Foot Pain Relief, Injury Prevention, Better Posture and Sports Performance in One Insole     buy now

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