Your feet are a marvel of nerves, bones and tissues that bear your weight every day, often carrying you over the course of tens of thousands of miles in your lifetime. Because of the literal burden they have to carry, human feet are protected by fat pads, technically known as plantar fat pads.
These delightful fat pads protect feet by providing much-needed insulation against the daily impact of movement, and they also protect your feet from the sheer burden of weight they endure as you stand still.
Fat pads protect the foot’s:
- Blood vessels
Problems with Fat Pads
As you age, plantar fat pads gradually lose their ability to protect your feet, since they tend to grow thinner due to wear and tear over time. Also referred to as fat-pad atrophy, this process may be aggravated by certain conditions.
Athletes involved in high-impact sports, including runners, tri-athletes, gymnasts and dancers, may be at increased risk for developing foot pain issues due to fat-pad damage. Those who are overweight or obese are also more prone to having foot pain due to fat-pad atrophy.
Along with thinning, fat pads may also become displaced due to injury or poorly fitting footwear, causing the sensitive areas normally protected by fat pads to become exposed and more vulnerable to injury.
Thinning fat pads or fat-pad displacement may contribute to:
- Foot pain
- Foot injury
- Foot lesions
- Foot wounds
If you have developed foot pain, the best course of action is to see a podiatrist who can help you discover the roots of your foot pain and help you find ways to improve your foot health. Depending on the cause and severity of your foot pain, different treatments may be recommended.