Have you ever said or felt this? If so, you are not alone. Spring is here—time to get out and about—but your feet hurt. What can you do? Being the wife of an architect, I appreciate the need for strength and durability in the foundation of a building. Our feet are considered the foundation of our bodies and they take a lot of wear and tear.

Did you know that humans are the only animals able to ambulate in the upright position? There have been many adaptations for the human foot to be able to so. Over the years, our feet encounter incredible amounts of stress, enough to, for many of us, change our feet. We look at them, or go to buy a new, larger pair of shoes and wonder, “Whose feet are these?”

I find it interesting that the very thing that was first designed to help protect your feet (shoes) actually cause many foot problems. You may know you have a problem, but you may not know what to do about it. First, you need to identify the problem. Here are common foot problems that come with time or aging…whatever you want to call it.

1. Big Feet: Your shoe size may be bigger than it was when you were in your 20s. The architecture of the structure of your feet is complicated. With every step you take, your feet receive two to three times your weight. Your genes, weight, and the types of shoes you wore and wear all add to this lengthening and widening of your feet as well as some foot deformities. For starters, measure your feet before buying new shoes. Since there is no exact science to sizing shoes, try them on first. If they are not comfortable in the store, don’t expect them to become more comfortable in time. I can’t begin to count the pairs of new shoes I cannot wear nor the money I’ve spent on them.

2. Foot Deformities: Wearing shoes that don’t fit can produce deformities due to continued pressure and friction. Callouses, bunions, and hammertoes are common foot deformities. Complications such as pain, open sores, infection, and yes amputations, can happen.

3. Foot Pain: Pain is not a bad sign. Pain is your friend. It is telling you that something is not right. Pain can and does have many causes. One cause may be the thinning of the fat pads on the bottom of your feet. You may need shoes with a thicker and “softer” sole. Pain may be telling you to take the pressure off, to remove your shoes and change into ones that relieve the pressure. No, pain is not a good sign. It could mean nerve damage. If you notice redness, sores, or anything out of the norm for your feet without pain, seek medical care.

If making changes to the shoes you wear does not improve your foot problems, I recommend you see a podiatrist who can diagnose and recommend the treatment you need. It may end up being as simple as obtaining a new pair of shoes that don’t have to be ugly! Medicare and some insurance companies may pay for these services. Enjoy!

Joy Pape is an internationally known board certified Family Nurse Practitioner, author, writer, and presenter. She believes that every person is an individual and deserves personalized medical and integrative care and hope for a healthy and full life. She can be reached at (212) 933-1756 or

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