Delivering You From The Foot Problems of Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a very unique time for a woman’s body, and there are inevitable impacts on the feet and entire lower extremity that in turn impact the overall health of the mom and the baby. If you can’t stand and walk comfortably, life will be harder for you and your loved ones. Alright, so what can be done from a podiatrists’ view point ?
The main issues tend to be related to one of three physiological factors:
Weight gain; Ligamentous laxity and Edema.
If there were ever a time in a woman’s life where orthotics could be extremely useful, it’s during pregnancy. The added weight and forward positioning of the weight; combined with decreased ligamentous stability as well as edema, all create compromised biomechanics for standing and walking. In other words:
PREGNANCY = COLLAPSE OF FEET AND SOFT TISSUE STRAIN
There are 2 scenarios.
Most Common: Pronators (valgus tendency)
Most women have to deal with increased pronation (falling in) forces on the arch and ankle leading to collapse of the arch and inward motion of ankle, knee and destabilization of the low back; i.e. inside of the foot, ankle, knee and any kind of hip or back pain.
Less Common: Supinators (varus tendency)
For women who have a lower leg position called genu or rear foot varus, the increased weight will increase the supination (turning out) force. This will lead to symptoms on the outside of the feet and legs, all the way into the hips and low back.
Podiatrists are masterful at bringing a multi-dimensional approach with an emphasis on restoring mechanical integrity to the body.
See a podiatrist, if you are dealing with:
– Callousing, corns, skin issues, chafing
– Soft tissue strain, soreness, achiness, leg cramps
– Outright foot, ankle, knee, hip or back pain.
– Diminished desire or ability to walk and exercise.
– A family history of foot/knee/hip/back problems in pregnancy,
– And, if you have a desire to take preventive actions.
Post-partum: after the baby is born, extra weight can stick around. Some bodies tolerate extra weight, and some are highly sensitive to even a 5 pound gain over ideal weight. The ligaments, tendons, joints and fascia of the feet and lower extremity can be very reactive and stay that way for months or years after giving birth..
So here are my best tips.
1. Wear extremely supportive and if possible, extensible shoes – they can stretch as your foot gets bigger.
2. If foot symptoms are severe, see a podiatrist and consider orthotics – even if only for a year or two. You want your feet functioning optimally during this very important time of your life.
3. Listen to your body, and then if appropriate, see your doctor, get off your feet, or see someone to help keep you on your feet.
4. Choose non-weightbearing or low impact exercise more than you normally would. The added stress to the joints of the increased weight and decreased stability of the soft tissue can wreak havoc on your body.
5. Ask your doctor about compressive stockings – wear them for weight bearing activities, including walking. If you are on your feet at work or at home, use them to minimize lower extremity edema.
6. Watch for one-sided swelling of the foot or leg. See your doctor immediately. If bilateral (on both sides), try massage, exercise, elevation, rest, compression, drinking more water, orthotics, other remedies ? Let me know in the comments.
7. Find classes lead by exercise specialists who know the field of pregnancy.
8. Always run advise you read on the internet by your physician/midwife/pregnancy health professional.