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Weight Gain and Your Feet

Weight Gain and Your Feet

These days, there’s a lot of talk about body positivity -- appreciating the beauty of all body types from the very thin to the very large. While it is true that bodies of all shapes and sizes are inherently beautiful, the fact is that if you put on extra pounds, your feet may be negatively affected.

Sometimes putting on weight is a healthy change, as it is during pregnancy, or it might be the unintentional side effect of taking a certain medication. In any case, weight gain causes extra stresses on the joints and muscles of your feet, and your probability of developing or aggravating foot problems also increases. For some individuals, a weight gain of just ten pounds can trigger foot problems.  The problems can be either pain caused by stress to the bones, muscles and ligaments of the foot, or systemic problems due to excessive weight.

Just as excess weight changes the shape of your body, it can also change your feet. They may swell, or changes in hormone levels may cause foot ligaments to relax. Both of these may result in your foot changing size, causing your shoes to fit improperly. The added pressure to your feet can make your feet more susceptible to developing tendonitis and plantar fasciitis (heel pain). Weight gain can also aggravate arthritis. Your feet absorb one and a half times their weight as you walk, thus excess pounds mean excess pressure on bones, muscles and ligaments.

Excess weight can cause systemic problems such as gout, diabetes and osteoarthritis, all of which can directly impact the feet. If you have recently gained a lot of weight and find that your feet have begun hurting, this is a signal to see a doctor for a general physical exam. While the problem may be localized and easily treatable by a podiatrist, sometimes foot pain is a symptom of something serious that requires more comprehensive medical care.  

The bottom line is that gaining too much extra weight may have a negative impact on the health of your feet. This can then launch a vicious cycle. When your feet hurt, you may not want to walk or exercise, two key components of maintaining good health. The resulting poor health can then create further foot problems.

Paying attention to changes in the condition of your feet is a good way to help yourself stay healthy, as foot pain can be a sign of deeper health issues. In any case, it’s a good idea to stay out in front of foot problems. The earlier you can address them, the less of a chance they have in developing into more serious medical issues, and the easier it will be to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle.

If you gain a significant amount of weight, here are three tips to help you cut down on the risk of foot pain and other problems:

  • Check your shoe size. Sometimes, it might be as simple as going up a half or a whole size to make sure your feet stay comfortable in your shoes.
  • Use extra shoe support. You might need arch supports or some extra padding to cushion your feet against the extra stress they’re experiencing.
  • Don’t go barefoot, even in your house. It might seem harmless enough, but the truth is, your feet will be more vulnerable if they are supporting more weight than usual. A good pair of slippers or comfortable house shoes will help them stay comfortable and adjust more easily to the higher workload.

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