Pregnancy & Your Feet
Many women have common complaints throughout their pregnancy. One of these complaints, often overlooked, is foot pain. Due to the natural weight gain during pregnancy, a woman's centre of gravity is completely altered. This causes a new weight-bearing stance and added pressure to the knees and feet. Two of the most common foot problems experienced by pregnant woman are flat feet and oedema.
These problems can lead to pain at the heel, arch, or the ball-of-foot. Many women may also experience leg cramping and varicose veins due to weight gain. 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.
Flat Feet (Over-Pronation) is caused when a person's arch flattens out upon weight bearing and their feet roll inward when walking. This can create extreme stress or inflammation on the plantar fascia, the fibrous band of tissue that runs from the heel to the forefoot. Over-pronation can make walking very painful and can increase strain on the feet, calves and/or back. The reason many pregnant women suffer from over-pronation is the added pressure on the body as a result of weight gain.
Oedema, also referred to as swelling in the feet, normally occurs in the latter part of pregnancy. Oedema results from the extra blood accumulated during pregnancy. The enlarging uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels in the pelvis and legs causing circulation to slow down and blood to pool in the lower extremities. The total water fluid in the body remains the same as before pregnancy, however it becomes displaced. When feet are swollen, they can become purplish in colour. Sometimes extra water is retained during pregnancy, adding to the swelling.
There are effective ways to treat both over-pronation and oedema during pregnancy. Orthotics should be designed with appropriate arch support and medial rearfoot posting to correct the over-pronation. Proper fitting footwear is also very important in treating over-pronation. It is important to treat over-pronation for pain relief but also to prevent other foot conditions from developing such as Plantar Fasciitis, Heel Spurs, Metatarsalgia, Post-Tib Tendonitis and/or Bunions.
Oedema in the feet can be minimized by the following methods: Elevate your feet as often as possible. Wear proper fitting footwear and seamless socks. Footwear that is too narrow or short will constrict circulation. Exercise regularly to promote overall health; walking is the best exercise. Swelling is normally similar in both feet. If swelling is not symmetrical in both feet, this may be a sign of a vascular problem and a doctor should be contacted immediately.