Pregnancy comes with many changes that affect your body, and you likely expected most of them: a protruding belly, swollen breasts and morning sickness, to name a few. However, you might not have anticipated the foot pain that often accompanies these changes. Here are a few ways pregnancy can leave your feet tired, sore and uncomfortable.
Due to the natural weight gain during pregnancy, a woman’s center of gravity is completely altered. This causes a new weight-bearing stance and added pressure to the knees and feet. Furthermore, the naturally released hormones that prepare the body for child birth also cause relaxation of the ligaments in the feet.
Foot Problems Caused by Pregnancy
There are a number of foot problems experienced by pregnant woman. Because of this, it is important for all pregnant women to learn more about foot health during their pregnancy to help make this nine month period more comfortable for them.
During pregnancy, your body retains water. This retention causes parts of your body to swell, including your feet. As your uterus grows to accommodate baby, it weighs down the veins in your lower body. As a result, the veins can’t move fluid up from the lower body as quickly or as much as it normally would, so the legs and feet collect more fluid in their tissues.
Your plantar fascia is the band of tissue that supports the arch in your feet. During pregnancy, weight changes put more pressure on your feet, which in turn puts more pressure on your plantar fascia. Overtime, this can lead to inflammation and pain, also known as plantar fasciitis.
Over-pronation (also referred to as flat feet) occurs when your weight causes your feet to roll inward as you walk. This causes your arches to flatten and can make walking uncomfortable.
Throughout pregnancy, you may find that your feet don’t fit in your shoes. This is because the pregnancy hormones from stretch the ligaments in your feet. Your feet may widen to help support your belly as well as help you remain balanced as your centre of gravity shifts.
Solutions for Relieving Foot Pain
Choose the Correct Footwear
You can prevent and relieve foot pain with the right footwear. Shoes with comfortable soles can redistribute your weight so it rests on your whole foot, rather than just your heels or the balls of your feet. Wider shoes can also accommodate your growing feet and lend you greater balance over shoes with narrow heels.
The best time to go shopping for new, larger shoes is late in the day when your feet have already swollen. If you can’t find a good fit for your growing feet, visit a podiatrist for custom orthotic shoes.
Visit a Podiatrist
As your pregnancy progresses, keep record of the kinds of pain you have in your feet as well as any scenarios that make your foot pain worse. Then bring this list to your podiatrist so he or she can decide how to best help your aching feet. During your visit, your podiatrist may conduct several tests such as physical assessments, x-rays or gait analyses. These tests help him or her see how your pregnancy has affected your feet, as well as which areas experience the most pressure when you walk. Your podiatrist may then give you advice on how to further relieve your foot pain, including the following:
• Elevation: Elevating or icing your feet will help reduce swelling. Gravity will help your blood flow back to the heart and reduce the amount of fluid in your lower extremities.
• Circulation: During long road trips, take breaks every few hours to walk and stretch your legs. This helps improve circulation and reduces swelling. Avoid crossing your legs or ankles while sitting to maximize blood flow to these areas.
• Diet: Foods high in sodium increase water retention. Eat healthy, low-sodium food and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
While foot problems during pregnancy can be a pain, they will most likely disappear after you deliver your baby. With the above tips and advice from your podiatrist, you can alleviate any foot pain you may experience during this time.