Pregnancy and Foot Orthotics
Body Changes During Pregnancy
Pregnancy triggers a wide range of changes in a women's body. The additional weight in the torso has immediate effects such as increased curvature in the lower back and a forward tilt of the pelvis. When a women's center of gravity is altered, the weight bearing stance also changes. This can cause increased demand on the muscles of the hips, legs and ankles. These changes contribute to the characteristic posture and gait associated with the pregnant women. The fact that feet change during pregnancy comes as no surprise to most women. Even if they are pregnant for the first time, most women have heard stories or warnings about increasing shoe sizes, foot pain and swelling. So what are the facts behind these problems and can these problems be helped?
Foot Problems Associated With Pregnancy
A common complaint that is often overlooked of women during pregnancy is foot pain. Women adjust their pattern of walking during pregnancy to improve stability. This is done to accommodate for obvious shifts in weight distribution and center of gravity, and requires muscles in the hips, pelvis, legs and ankles to work differently.
There are two common changes associated with the foot during pregnancy. The first is an increase in volume or size caused by edema (swelling) and the second is an increase in size caused by a looseness or laxity of the ligaments that support your foot. This ligament laxity is caused by a hormone called relaxin which is the same hormone that is loosening the ligaments of the birth canal and pelvis in preparation for delivery. This hormone does not target only the birthing ligaments, and has wide ranging effects throughout the body. The ligaments that hold the 26 bones of your foot can be affected, and as these ligaments loosen, the foot collapses or over-pronates.
Since the levels of relaxin are elevated in early pregnancy, these changes can occur over a period of months. Also common during pregnancy are painful calluses, corns and cracked heels. These complaints are indicative of the underlying problem of your foot flattening and spreading out while your shoes remain the same size.
Are These Foot Changes Permanent?
Studies in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association have shown that the changes in the way a women walks during pregnancy have lasting effects and may not return to normal following birth. Some experts feel that the shoe size changes associated with pregnancy are permanent.
How Are Foot Problems From Pregnancy Treated?
Unfortunately for many women, problems associated with their feet are often not addressed adequately. Complaints in the feet, knees and hips are often deemed secondary and dismissed in the hope that the problem will resolve spontaneously after birth. This may be because many clinicians are concerned that the treatment protocols for these problems in non-pregnant women are inappropriate and even dangerous in pregnant women. Unfortunately this can lead to a treatment strategy of benign neglect. The first step in addressing your foot pain is to remove any potential interference with your changing foot. To help with the swelling, soak your feet in cold water and prop them up to help with drainage. Buy a few new pairs of roomy comfortable shoes. Be aware that your feet may continue to change with each pregnancy.
Custom Foot Orthotics
The over-pronation associated with pregnancy is best treated with a truly custom, biomechanically correct foot orthotic. In fact, pregnancy provides an opportunity to address foot problems while your foot is malleable and able to adapt to a new position. Using the time while you are pregnant to support your foot in a new corrected position will allow proper functioning and decreased pain for years to come.
If you have any questions about Foot Problems with Pregnancy or any other orthotic problems, contact Dr. Marc Klein today at 561-447-7571.
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by Charlie A.
"I experienced heel pain for about a year and a half and it got to the point where I couldn't get out of bed...Now I'm back up to about 98% and I can crank out 2 hour runs without any pain and no problem at all."
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Foot or Ankle Pain?
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