Pregnancy Can be a Real Pain in Your… Feet!
A Question Pregnant Women Almost Never Hear?
“When is the baby due?”
“Are you having a boy or a girl?”
“Have you picked a name yet?”
These are all questions that pregnant women are probably tired of hearing by the end of their first trimester. A pregnancy question they’ve probably never heard?
“How are your feet feeling?”
Besides obvious swelling (remember when Kim Kardashian’s swollen feet were on the cover of every magazine?) women are seldom asked about their foot health during pregnancy. However, there are many gestational changes that can directly impact foot health and daily foot care routines.
Gestational Changes Impact Foot Health
It’s no secret that hormone balance is completely thrown off during pregnancy. What most people don’t know is that these hormonal changes can directly impact foot health.
During pregnancy, a hormone known as “Relaxin” is produced by the women’s reproductive system. Relaxin does exactly what its name implies and relaxes the ligaments in the pelvis to adequately prepare for childbirth. However, Relaxin reaches beyond just the pelvis and significantly affects all of the ligaments and muscles throughout the body.
Some women may notice that their feet get bigger during pregnancy. In actuality, the Relaxin hormone causes the ligaments, tendons and muscles in the foot to release any built-up tension, which causes the arch of the foot to sink and flatten out. This flattening affect causes the foot to elongate, so there is a definite possibility that pregnant women will end up with a bigger shoe size after giving birth.
Weight gain is a common expectation among pregnant women, and this also has a direct impact on foot health. Typically, women gain anywhere between 25-35 lbs during pregnancy, though this number is relative to each individual.
When women gain pregnancy weight, the feet, i.e. the base of the entire body, take the burden. This weight gain may directly contribute to decreasing arch height, causing flat feet.
Weight gain, swelling, and relaxed ligaments, tendons and muscles all put feet at a tremendous risk for injury, as well as significantly contribute to pregnancy foot pain. Because of these intense stresses and changes, many pregnant women develop Plantar Fasciitis. Plantar Fasciitis presents itself as sharp pain in the heel and/or arch. This can cause extreme discomfort as well as physical compensation, such as limping.
What Can I Do?
Orthotics, Orthotics, Orthotics
Orthotics are a great conservative treatment option to help prevent musculoskeletal injuries. Orthotics provide arch support and prevent stress to the muscles, joints and ligaments in the lower extremities. They also help to distribute the stress of added weight gain more evenly throughout the feet. Additionally, orthotics help alleviate heel pain, prevent Plantar Fasciitis and work to maintain the foot’s natural arch.
Hydration is Key
Be sure to drink PLENTY of water during pregnancy. Dehydration can cause muscle cramps, fatigue and water retention. Increasing water intake will also help the body naturally flush out any excess fluid.
Staying away from food with added salt will make a dramatic difference in swelling. But, if swollen feet are still too much to handle, we can help! We offer a variety of different solutions, from multi-compression wraps that can be applied in-office, to medical grade compression hoses.
More Conservative Treatment
Making minor daily adjustments can make a huge difference in foot comfort during pregnancy. Pregnant women should make a point to sit with their feet elevated a few time a day. This position employs the help of gravity to carry excess blood away from the lower extremities and decrease swelling.
At what point is foot pain too much?
Although the strain on your feet dramatically increases during pregnancy, you should still be able to walk comfortably. Remember, pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. If your pregnancy foot pain is inhibiting your daily routine, make an appointment to find solutions and treatment options that work for you!