- Pregnancy and Your Feet
- Treatment and Prevention
- Causes of Foot Pain in Pregnancy
- Most Common Foot-Related Problems During Pregnant
- Remedies to Relieve Foot Pain During Pregnancy
- Exercises for Foot Pain During Pregnancy
- Common Foot Pain During Pregnancy
- Common foot problems during pregnancy
- Tips to avoid foot pain during pregnancy
- The Aches and Pains of Pregnancy on Your Feet
- Pregnancy and Heel Pain
- Pregnancy and Your Feet
- Heel Pain in Pregnancy
- Foot and Leg Swelling During Pregnancy
- Home Remedies to Treat and Prevent Foot and Leg Pain During Pregnancy
- What Happens To Your Feet During Pregnancy?
- How Your Feet Change During Pregnancy
- How Orthotic Insoles Help During Pregnancy
- Heel Pain During Pregnancy
- Differentiating Between Achy Feet And Plantar Fasciitis
- How Plantar Fasciitis Is Treated During Pregnancy
- Articles Recommended for You:
Pregnancy and Your Feet
Medically reviewed by Dr. Emily Splichal and Dr. Janine Taddeo
Last updated on October 3, 2018
Pregnancy triggers many different changes in a woman’s body. 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 center 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 over- pronation and edema. 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.
Over-pronation and edema a very common foot problem experienced during pregnancy. Over-Pronation, also referred to as flat feet, 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. Over-pronation is also very prominent in people who have flexible, flat feet or in people who are obese. Edema, also referred to as swelling in the feet, normally occurs in the latter part of pregnancy. Edema 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 color. Sometimes extra water is retained during pregnancy, adding to the swelling. If there is swelling in the face or hands, a doctor should be contacted immediately.
Treatment and Prevention
There are effective ways to treat both over-pronation and edema during pregnancy. Over-Pronation can be treated conservatively with “ready-made” orthotics. These 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. Choose comfortable footwear that provides extra support and shock absorption. 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. Edema in the feet can be minimized by the following methods: Elevate your feet as often as possible. If you have to sit for long periods of time, place a small stool by your feet to elevate them. Wear proper fitting footwear. Footwear that is too narrow or short will constrict circulation. Have your feet measured several times throughout your pregnancy. They will probably change sizes. Wear seamless socks that do not constrict circulation. If you are driving for a long period of time, take regular breaks to stretch your legs to promote circulation. Exercise regularly to promote overall health; walking is the best exercise. Drink plenty of water to keep the body hydrated. This helps the body retain less fluid. Eat a well-balanced diet and avoid foods high in salt that can cause water retention. 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.
If any problems persist, consult your doctor.
The proposed code, which bans exercise clothing and flip-flops, also mandates that hair and nails be clean and neatly groomed. And while blue jeans are explicitly prohibited, district employees can wear ‘dress jeans’ with no visible tears or fraying.
If you’re pregnant, you probably can’t wait to get home and put your feet up.
If your feet hurt, you might have plantar fasciitis, a condition that affects about 10 percent of the population – and probably occurs more frequently in pregnant women, according to Phil Vasyli, podiatrist and founder of Orthaheel and Dr. Andrew Weil Integrative Footwear.
Here, find out exactly what plantar fasciitis is, what causes it and what you can do about it.
What is plantar fasciitis? The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs from the heel bone through the arch and ends at the toes. The plantar fascia’s job is to support the foot and enable the motion that allows you to walk.
Yet, when you’re pregnant, things can go awry. For starters, when you gain weight quickly, particularly during the first trimester, it can put a lot of strain on the plantar fascia and cause it to become inflamed. Exercising and wearing shoes without any support, especially during the summer months, can also make matters worse.
“The result is a sharp pain in the heel, especially after you’ve been sitting for awhile or when you wake up in the morning,” said Dr. Alan Berman, a podiatrist at Somers Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Group in Carmel, New York.
The body’s release of the hormone relaxin, which helps to loosen the ligaments for birth, can also be a contributing factor.
“The combination of those two (factors) causes the pregnant woman’s foot to flatten significantly,” Vasyli said.
In fact, changes in foot size and shape can actually be permanent, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.
So what’s a pregnant woman to do?
You might think a shoe insert for your heel would help, but Berman said, “If you don’t support the arch, it’s not as efficient.”
Any drugstore shoe insert will do, according to Berman. Also, nix the flimsy flip-flop and flat sandal and look for a shoe that has good arch support.
Put your feet up
To reduce swelling, elevate your feet as much as possible. You can also prop a few pillows under your feet and sleep on your left side at night, so blood flows back to your heart.
Applying ice can help with the inflammation. Wrap an ice pack with a towel and let your feet rest on it for 20 minutes.
The best way to relieve the tightness and pain is to stretch the plantar fascia. Place a towel on the pad right under your toes and pull back. Stretching the calf muscle with a runner’s wall stretch can also help: Place two hands on a wall, bend your right leg and push your left heel into the ground. Switch sides and repeat.
Sure, you might have a burst of energy, but if you’re in pain, your body is telling you to cut back on too much exercise and extra to-dos.
See a pro
If the pain doesn’t get better, consider seeing a podiatrist or an orthopedist. Plantar fasciitis can linger for weeks, months and even years after pregnancy. It all depends on your body, Berman said.
Last Updated on January 28, 2020
During pregnancy, your body undergoes tremendous changes to provide for a baby growing inside you. This means that you get to put up with a whole lot of symptoms ranging from morning sickness to severe pain in the legs, paired with swelling, which may even prevent you from engaging in daily tasks.
Constant pain in the feet during pregnancy can make it difficult for you to stand, walk or even put some pressure on them for too long. There isn’t much you can do to prevent foot pain during pregnancy, but you can use some methods to alleviate the pain and get some much-needed relief. But, before we get straight on to discussing the ways to deal with foot pain during pregnancy, let’s understand its causes.
Causes of Foot Pain in Pregnancy
With physical changes in the body, almost all pregnant women experience pain in their feet. But, the causes of each case might differ. Let’s check out some common causes of foot pain during pregnancy:
- Natural weight gain can put pressure on your feet and your ligaments near the arch of your feet, making your feet hurt.
- The centre of gravity in your body shifts as a result of the weight of the growing baby. This will require you to change the position and the posture that you stand-in, causing undue stress on your feet.
- You may get a wider gait due to the extra weight. This can strain the muscles on your feet.
- Increased blood volume during pregnancy can also cause cramps in the feet.
- Tight shoes or shoes of the incorrect size can cause stress to your feet and may also cause ingrown nails that contribute to foot pain.
Let’s take a look at some common foot-related problems that pregnant women often experience.
Most Common Foot-Related Problems During Pregnant
During pregnancy, women often suffer from oedema, which is a condition wherein their feet swell noticeably, leading to discomfort and pain, especially in the second trimester.
As the baby grows, the uterus expands and puts immense pressure on the blood vessels in the pelvic area. This obstructs blood circulation and causes accumulation of blood in the feet, making the feet swell.
At times, excess water retention also leads to swelling in the feet. Your feet may then develop purple marks as well. As oedema can make it difficult for you to move about, it is best to consult a doctor if the discomfort is too much to bear.
Over-pronation is also known as flat feet and is caused by excessive pressure on the feet. The arch of the foot can flatten out due to weight gain during pregnancy and add pressure on the plantar fascia, which are the tissues that connect the heel to the front of the foot.
Over-pronation can lead to added stress on your back as well as the calf muscles.
Let’s take a look at how you could deal with foot pain during pregnancy.
Remedies to Relieve Foot Pain During Pregnancy
Although pain in the feet is one of the symptoms of pregnancy, there are many remedies for foot pain during pregnancy. Read on to know some of them.
- Ask your medical practitioner if you could use orthotics. Orthotics can be inserted in your footwear to provide support to your foot arch and prevent it from flattening out.
- Always ensure you wear the right shoes that offer support and are comfortable. Do not wear shoes that are too tight as they can also cause ingrown nails further contributing to your pain.
- Try and put your feet up whenever you sit down. This will facilitate blood flow and help prevent oedema.
- Rotate your ankles, one at a time to improve blood circulation. Doing this simple exercise can also help get rid of foot cramps.
- Keep yourself hydrated. Drink plenty of water as dehydration can worsen swelling and increase water retention.
- Consume a balanced diet and avoid excess salt as it can contribute to water retention.
- Apply olive oil and massage your feet or book a foot massage to relieve the pain. You can also try hot oil massage for effective pain relief.
- Use cotton socks which can facilitate circulation.
- Try compression stockings to mimic the act of squeezing and facilitate blood flow from the feet. Oedema lowers the efficiency of your body in pumping blood up from your feet. These stockings help facilitate contraction of the muscles near the veins in the leg, forcing the blood to move up.
- Use a bag of ice to relieve the pain if you are experiencing excessive pain.
- In a wide-mouthed vessel, dissolve a cup of table or Epsom salt in water and put your feet in it for 15 to 20 minutes.
Your feet are going to undergo a lot of strain due to all the weight you will be carrying during pregnancy. Although foot pain in early pregnancy is not very common, it is advised to take precautions to lower the chances of excessive discomfort. A regimen of daily exercise and a proper diet should help you keep the intense foot pain away. Let’s take a look at some exercises you could do to lower the foot pain and reduce the discomfort.
Exercises for Foot Pain During Pregnancy
1. Ankle Flex
The swelling around the ankles during pregnancy makes it difficult to stand and also walk. This exercise will help you loosen up your ankles and, reduce the swelling and the pain and also build some strength in them. Here’s how you can do it:
- Sit in a chair with your back as straight as possible.
- Raise your legs or place a small stool to raise them up. You may lie down on a bed if you want to and use a pillow to raise your legs.
- Now, pull your toes towards your face without bending your knees. Hold them for 2 to 3 seconds and release.
- Repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times for both the feet.
2. Ankle Rotations
Ankle rotations are an extension of the above exercise. Here’s how you can do it:
- Sit in a chair or lie on the bed as per your preference. Raise your legs using a stool or a pillow.
- Now, rotate one of your ankles in the clockwise direction 5 to 10 times.
- Rotate the same ankle in the anti-clockwise direction for the equal number of times.
- Repeat the exercise for the second ankle.
It can also be of great help to keep in mind “RICE” – Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate as a trick to cope with foot pain during pregnancy. In any event where you find that the pain is too much to go about your daily activities, then you will need to consult your doctor immediately for medical help. You can also ask your medical practitioner for ways to relieve foot pain at home well ahead of time.
Resources and References:
Also Read: Nosebleeds During Pregnancy
Common Foot Pain During Pregnancy
Pregnancy brings a lot of joy to many women. It is a wonderful experience, however, for some, it’s a pretty painful episode. To be clear, I’m not talking about pain around the abdomen but the foot pain during pregnancy on your feet. Important to realize, women, gain weight during pregnancy which can average between 25 to 40 pounds, which adds extra strain on your heels. Consequently, your weight gain can cause your ankle, feet, and arches to hurt during pregnancy.
Common foot problems during pregnancy
Pregnancy weight gain can put a lot of strain on your plantar fascia and cause it to become inflamed. For those of you who do not know what plantar fascia is, it is a thick tissue that runs across the bottom of your boot and connects your heel bone to your toes. Many pregnant women experience irritation and pain of the plantar fascia due to the added pressure that their bodies gain; which could lead to common foot problems including over-pronation, plantar fasciitis, and edema.
Over-pronation is very common among pregnant women. It happens when your foot begins to collapse, causing the foot to flatten which consequently adds stress to other parts of your foot. Your foot arch flattens out due to the extra weight and your feet begin to roll inwards while walking. This can cause strain and/or inflammation on your plantar fascia, potentially causing severe discomfort, which could potentially lead to other foot problems such as plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is no joke which is pretty common among pregnant women. It occurs when your plantar fascia becomes inflamed and is stretched due to walking with no adequate support and/or weight gain. This common foot condition causes stabbing pain that usually occurs after the first steps in the morning.
Swollen feet during pregnancy is normal, which is known as Edema. Edema normally occurs in the latter part of pregnancy. Swelling is usually caused by additional blood and fluid accumulated during pregnancy. You can experience swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet. For whatever reason, if swelling is not symmetrical in both feet, this may be a serious problem so you should consult your doctor immediately
Tips to avoid foot pain during pregnancy
Now that you understand what is causing your swollen feet during pregnancy, there are a number of ways to help you eliminate or ease your aching feet. Remembering these strategies can make pregnancy just a little easier for you.
Eliminate Foot Pain during Pregnancy
- Ice. Apply an ice pack can reduce swelling and soothe your pain.
- Elevate. Put your feet up whenever possible or when they get swollen. Prop them up on a stool or something similar.
- Breaks. Take regular breaks to stretch your plantar fascia, legs, heels and calf muscles to encourage circulation.
- Exercise and walk. The more you move, the more your blood flows out of your legs and into the rest of your body.
- Slow down. As soon as you feel tired or pain, your body is telling you to cut and rest.
- Well-balanced diet. Maintain a well-balanced diet, avoiding salty and fatty foods.
- Drink plenty of water. Flush out excess fluids by drinking plenty of water.
- Comfortable footwear. Wear comfortable shoes that stretch to accommodate swelling in your feet.
How supportive footwear and orthotic insoles help reduce foot pain during pregnancy
One of the best ways to prevent your feet from swelling and ease your pain is by keeping your feet supportive with comfortable footwear and orthotic insoles. The best footwear during pregnancy is one that provides extra support and shock absorption to keep you on your feet pain-free. In addition, custom orthotics and over-the-counter orthotics can help prevent over-pronation while giving you firm, comfortable support. They will support your arch while stabilizing your heel and give you the support you deserve.
Don’t let foot pain during pregnancy ruin your experience
Pregnancy is a beautiful experience which brings a lot of joy to many women, so don’t let foot pain ruin this journey. Be sure to get yourself comfortable footwear and good pair custom orthotics or over-the-counter arch supports, your feet will thank you as they’re helping you carry your soon to be bundle-of-joy. For women’s comfort shoes and arch supports near you, visit Lucky Feet Shoes. We have multiple stores in Southern California for your all your footwear needs! Come in for a FREE FOOT ANALYSIS and walk out with happy feet!
The Aches and Pains of Pregnancy on Your Feet
In addition to a swollen belly, many women experience swollen legs and feet during their pregnancy. Because of all this extra weight and added stress on the feet, getting around during pregnancy can become difficult.
About Edema and Over-Pronation
Sometimes, this extra pregnancy weight can place so much pressure on the body that the arches of the feet flatten, leading to discomfort and even pain. When your arches start to fall, the feet may begin to over-pronate, or turn in abnormally.
“Over-pronation is common in pregnancy in that the increased weight gain stresses the feet and ‘flattens the arches’ causing the feet to ‘roll in,’ ” says Timothy C. Ford, DPM, director of the podiatric residency program at Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s HealthCare in Louisville, Ky. “This condition can stretch the plantar fascia,” the tissues lining the bottom of your feet, causing the painful inflammation known as plantar fasciitis. It’s natural for the foot to flatten a bit during pregnancy, but too much flattening can cause foot pain, and eventually, knee problems. Over-pronation may be so severe that even walking becomes painful.
Swelling, also called edema, is another big problem for many pregnant women. “Edema is just the swelling of the feet, again from the extra blood and fluids required for pregnancy gravity adding to the equation,” Dr. Ford explains.
Both over-pronation and edema can make pregnancy more uncomfortable than it needs to be, so you should take steps to minimize these conditions.
Edema and Over-Pronation: How They Affect You
Adriana Godsey, a mother of two from Columbus, Ohio, experienced severe edema in her legs and feet and flattened foot arches during her pregnancies. Her feet were so swollen that she didn’t even have visibly defined arches any more, and this swelling caused significant pain.
“Because of the discomfort, I was not able to do anything that required a lot of walking or standing or sitting. Going and walking around the mall might have been okay, but after about 30 minutes, it would have been too uncomfortable,” says Godsey. Several times a day, Godsey would have to sit with her feet propped up, covered in ice packs to reduce swelling and soothe the pain of her foot conditions. “It was very painful,” Godsey recalls. “You get the throbbing in your feet, and it starts throbbing up your calf.”
Edema and Over-Pronation: Treatment and Prevention
Godsey did manage to exercise during her pregnancies, which helped some with the pain and swelling. “I could still do elliptical training. It didn’t put stress on my feet and I could sweat some of the extra fluids out and work my legs to keep the circulation going,” she says.
Want to keep down swelling and keep feet feeling good during pregnancy? Try these tips:
- Support your feet. Ford suggests wearing supportive insoles inside your shoes, and choosing comfortable, roomy footwear that offers good arch support.
- Exercise. The more you move, the more your blood flows out of your legs and into the rest of your body. Ford and Godsey both recommend exercising to reduce edema.
- Drink plenty of water, and avoid salt. What you eat makes a big difference in how much fluid your body retains. Flush out excess fluids by drinking plenty of water, but remember to cut back on salt and caffeine in your diet, which can make your body hold onto to extra fluids even more.
- Elevate and ice. When your feet get swollen, prop them up. Applying an ice pack will ease pain and reduce swelling.
- Don’t push it. The more time you spend standing, the more your feet will swell. So limit time on your feet to keep the swelling from becoming too severe.
Don’t let your feet suffer more than they have to during your pregnancy. Be sure to provide plenty of support to painful, flat feet, and rest your feet often to relieve pressure. Remembering these strategies can make pregnancy just a little easier on you.
Pregnancy and Heel Pain
You have a lot on your mind during pregnancy without adding heel pain to the mix. Nip plantar fasciitis in the bud by treating symptoms promptly, and get back to picking out the perfect baby name or whipping that nursery into shape!
Pregnancy and Your Feet
Aching and swollen feet are almost inevitable during pregnancy. Most foot pain associated with pregnancy, however, is easily treated and even prevented. Increased weight, changes in gait and loosening of ligaments due to hormonal changes are all common during pregnancy and contribute to increased force on the feet leading to foot problems.
One of the most common foot conditions brought on by pregnancy is over-pronation (flattening of the feet). Over-pronation can make walking painful and increase strain on the calves, knees, hip and/or back. If the flattening of the feet is left untreated, painful disorders such as Metatarsalgia (ball of foot pain) and Plantar Fasciitis (arch pain), can result.
The condition can be avoided or treated by wearing arch supports and choosing stable shoes. See our recommendations below for proper pregnancy footwear. When you are not in shoes, be sure to opt for sandals or slippers that offer exceptional arch support. To avoid foot pain, you should never go barefoot while you are pregnant any time you are on your feet.
If you are in the Seattle area, contact us for an appointment and we can help you avoid or treat pregnancy related foot and leg pain.
Home Treatments to Prevent Foot and Leg Problems in Pregnancy
If you are not in the Seattle area and want to try home treatments first, you can find our recommended home treatments for pregnancy related foot pain.
Heel Pain in Pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, getting out of bed in the morning is tough enough without adding heel pain to the mix. Morning sickness, exhaustion and even moving around with a bigger tummy and pregnancy weight can be a challenge. If you wake up with heel pain, you may want to just fall back into bed. Heel pain in pregnancy is not normal and can be treated and avoided.
The most likely cause of heel pain in anyone is plantar fasciitis. For pregnant women, the extra weight of carrying a child may make this condition worse adding to the discomfort you already feel. Treatment for heel pain in pregnancy is usually best achieved by supporting the arch of the foot to stop it from flattening and stretching the plantar fascia. The best way to do this is through the use of prefabricated orthotics or custom orthotics to increase support.
The main ligament that runs from the heel to the toes of the foot is called the plantar fascia and in pregnancy, can become stretched due to flattening feet or improper support. This can lead to pain and inflammation. When you sit or lie down for extended periods, this inflammation causes fluid to collect at the bottom of the heel. When you stand, this creates the pain you feel. Gaining weight in pregnancy (which is normal) can worsen this condition.
Foot and Leg Swelling During Pregnancy
During pregnancy women retain fluid and hormones cause dilation of the blood vessels to help carry extra blood for the baby. If there is a family history of vein problems, then this is when valves in veins may start to fail which can lead to varicose veins. In fact, a study published in Swiss Medical Weekly stated that 30 percent of women having their fist baby and 55% of those having a second or third will develop varicose veins. In addition, swelling common in pregnancy leads to foot and leg pain and fatigue.
Wearing compression socks can help keep your feet and legs healthy and comfortable during pregnancy.
Compression Stockings During Pregnancy
Compression stockings are often recommended during pregnancy. They will help circulation and will not harm the fetus. Compression hose reduce that or can slow the process with future pregnancies. We usually recommend 20-30 mmHg strength for the first – second trimester. This is sometimes increased to 30-40mmHg compression at the end of the second to third trimesters.
It is critical to get measured by an experienced fitter and purchase a good quality compression stockings, (Sigvaris or Bauerfeind), as they will be somewhat easier to put on and more comfortable. Inexpensive compression hose have less stretch in them and you will find that you are much less comfortable. In Seattle we usually refer to Mary Catherine’s for fitting for pregnancy compression stockings.
Home Remedies to Treat and Prevent Foot and Leg Pain During Pregnancy
We have put together a ten step plan for women experiencing foot pain during pregnancy. Try these easy home remedies first. If you are not feeling better in a week or two, make an appointment to see us in our Seattle Foot and Ankle Center for more serious treatment to relieve your foot pain. Try the tips below and click here to read other self treatment tips for heel pain.
1. Use arch supports in your shoes.You want ones that provide firm support and conform to your arch. We recommend the FootChair Medical Grade Orthotic. These unique arch supports have an adjustable arch that can be raised to provide maximum support and comfort.
2. For smaller shoes including dress flats and high heels we recommend another model of FootChair, the FootChair Slim Orthotic. This device has a much lower profile and fits into most types of women’s dress shoes. It also flexes in the heel to adapt to different heel heights.
3. When you’re not wearing shoes, wear flip flops or sandals with arch support while on your feet. Vionic flip-flops and sandals offer exceptional support.
4. Around the house, use slippers with arch support. Vionic slippers offer the best support we have seen in slippers.
4. Wear seamless socks that do not constrict circulation such as those from Smoothtoe.
5. To combat foot and leg swelling and fatigue, use compression support hose. We recommend getting a prescription and then a professional fitting. If you cannot do that , then you can try an over-the-counter support hose. A quality one we recommend is Juzo 12mmHg – 20mmHg in thigh-high.
6. When driving for a long period, take regular breaks to stretch the legs and promote circulation.
7. Elevate your feet as often as possible.
8. Check with a doctor about an exercise program – a walking regimen is usually recommended. Walking on the afflicted foot will actually relieve much of the morning pain, as it acts as a natural massaging action, releasing built up fluids.
9. Eat a well-balanced diet and avoid foods high in salt that can cause fluid retention.
10. Icing areas of the foot and leg that are in pain can be effective, as can stretching.
Taking care of your feet allows you to indulge in regular exercise and enjoy a happy and healthy pregnancy. If you have any pain at all that is not relieved by the suggestions above, make an appointment to see us at the Foot and Ankle Center of Washington. We can provide you with conservative treatment options that will relieve your pregnancy foot pain.
What Happens To Your Feet During Pregnancy?
While your feet may not seem like the top priority during pregnancy, they undergo changes just like the rest of your body. In fact, since pregnancy and foot problems go hand in hand, it is important to take care of your feet during your pregnancy. Read on to find out ways you can give your feet the TLC they need.
QUICK SUMMARY —
- Feet undergo changes during pregnancy as pregnancy hormones loosen foot ligaments, causing feet to expand. These changes are also associated with swollen feet and ankles, flattened arches, and increased shoe size.
- Ways to alleviate foot comfort during pregnancy include maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding high heels, and choosing shoes with both comfort and support.
- You feet are likely to grow while you are pregnant. This can increase your shoe size and shoe width while lowering your arch height.
- Orthotic insoles will give your growing, expanding, and potentially flatter feet the support they need while also stabilizing your heel. This will prevent overpronation while providing firm, comfortable support.
ALL THE DETAILS —
How Your Feet Change During Pregnancy
As your fetus grows in size, your body—including your feet—change to accommodate its development. Both overall weight gain and shifts in how you carry your weight put added stress on your feet during pregnancy.
Moreover, pregnancy hormones such as estrogen and relaxin are released to relax the joints and pelvis, accommodating the delivery of your baby. But these hormones also loosen your foot ligaments, causing your feet to expand. Due to these changes, pregnancy is associated with swollen feet and ankles, flattened arches, and increased shoe size.
The American Podiatric Medical Association describes the changes to your pregnant feet as follows:
“Increased weight puts more pressure on the foot, the arch flattens a bit, and the foot elongates. Just a quarter-inch increase in foot length is enough to prompt a change in shoe size.”
Changes to your arches and foot size usually only occur during your first pregnancy. In other words, you probably won’t increase a shoe size during your subsequent pregnancies.
Taking Care of Your Feet During Pregnancy
Changes in your feet can cause added discomfort. Here are some ways to alleviate foot discomfort during pregnancy:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Every woman’s body and pregnancy is different. Work with your OB-GYN to follow a healthy lifestyle for you. Eat right and continue to exercise and you should have no problem staying healthy during your pregnancy. Your feet will thank you.
- Avoid high heels. High heels will put more pressure on your feet. Wearing low heels (1 or 2 inches in height) or flats will make your feet much happier.
- Choose shoes with both comfort and support. While wearing stretchy ballet flats or loose-fitting flip flops might give your pregnant feet immediate relief, these thin-soled shoes won’t give your feet the support they need throughout the day. Try to find shoes with a thicker sole that will give you extra cushion.
Reduce Swollen Feet During Pregnancy
If your feet and ankles are swollen during pregnancy, there are some steps to follow that can relieve swelling apart from using supportive shoes and insoles:
- If possible, avoid standing for long periods of time.
- Rest your feet as much as possible. Physicians recommend resting with your feet above your heart for an hour a day. Lie on the couch and prop your feet on some cushions while you watch TV.
- Ice your ankles and feet.
Foot exercises can also help reduce swelling:
- Bend and stretch your feet up-and-down 30 times
- Rotate each foot eight times in each direction.
If you experience severe swelling in your feet and ankles that moves towards your upper extremities, see a doctor. This can be a sign of pre-eclampsia, a serious condition in which high blood pressure and protein in the urine develop later in the pregnancy (usually after the 20th week).
Flattened Arches & Your Feet After Pregnancy
Flattened arches can prove to be an enduring problem that develops during pregnancy. But this is also one of the most common foot problems after pregnancy, even after you lose weight.
Scientific research has proven that “pregnancy appears to be associated with a persistent loss of arch height and rigidity as well as greater arch drop and foot lengthening,” particularly during the first pregnancy. Researchers at the University of Iowa found that “these changes in the feet could potentially contribute to the increased risk for subsequent musculoskeletal disorders in women,” such as increased pronation and excessive stress on the hips and knees.
The same team of researchers posited that “the use of inexpensive, well-tolerated and widely available arch supporting orthoses during pregnancy could potentially protect the long-term musculoskeletal health of women.” They called for more research on the topic, but their recommendations demonstrate that orthotic insoles can provide the necessary relief and support that your pregnant feet need.
Do Your Feet Grow When You Are Pregnant?
In addition to the common problems related with pregnant feet noted above, it’s important to know that your feet will likely grow when you are pregnant as well. Here are some feet changes to expect.
Your feet will change by a half size or more during pregnancy. This increase in foot size is caused by the increase of the hormones estrogen and relaxin during your pregnancy. These hormones are released to relax your joints and pelvis to accommodate childbirth, but they also loosen the ligaments in your foot, causing them to expand and grow.
Your shoe size can also be affected by weight gain — and then subsequent post-pregnancy weight loss. Have you ever noticed that if you gain or lose a bit of weight, your shoe size changes? After I had my son, my shoe size went back to normal. However, a few years after that, I lost even more weight through better eating and exercise and noticed that my shoes felt looser. Imagine my surprise when I went to the store and found that my normally size 10 feet now fit into a size 9 with ease.
During pregnancy be prepared for this shoe size increase with comfortable, supportive shoes that are a half size larger than you normally wear.
Your feet can also swell up during the later stages of pregnancy, as mine did. There are a number of reasons for this. First, your body is retaining more water and fluid while you’re pregnant. This fluid winds up down at your feet, causing the swelling. Also, as your uterus grows, it will put increasing pressure on your veins, which can impede the flow of blood back to your heart. This pressure leads to increased swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet.
Here are a few ways to help prevent swollen feet during pregnancy:
- Stay active – Take a walk down the street or around the mall. Ride an exercise bike if you can. This type of exercise gets circulation moving in your feet and decreases swelling.
- Stay hydrated – I know this seems counter intuitive when you’re retaining water and fluid, but your body needs increased fluids while pregnant. The National Institutes of Medicine recommends about 10 cups (2.3 liters) of fluids a day during pregnancy.
- Get in the water – Visiting a pool to stand or walk around in will help you to increase circulation and also help you to cool off, which is tough to do while pregnant, especially in the summer months.
- Sleep on your side or with pillows – If you haven’t heard about body pillows yet, go buy one now. Sleep with this long pillow between your knees on your left side, which takes pressure off your inferior vena cava – the vein in your body that takes blood from the lower half of your body to your heart.
- Wear compression stockings – These socks can reduce swelling. While they may not be the most stylish, if your doctor recommends them, wear them. They will help.
Thanks to pregnancy hormones, your arch height will decrease during pregnancy. In fact, your lowered arch height could be permanent. Researchers at the University of Iowa found that during a woman’s first pregnancy, her arch lowers in height more than during any following pregnancy.
Forty-nine women took part in the arch-height study. Their arches were measured during the first trimester and then again 19 weeks after they gave birth. From that study, it was shown that arch height significantly decreased during pregnancy and that pregnancy was associated with a permanent loss of arch height. This decrease doesn’t appear in subsequent pregnancies, showing the first pregnancy as the major cause.
As your arch height decreases, this can lead to flat feet, a condition in which the arch of your foot basically touches the ground instead of being moderately elevated. Flat feet/low arch is a known cause of the following issues:
- Foot pain in your heel (plantar fasciitis) or arch
- Swelling along the inside of your ankle
- Increased knee and hip problems
How Orthotic Insoles Help During Pregnancy
During your pregnancy, your weight increases, and this will shift your sense of balance as well as increase pressure on your hips, knees, ankles, and feet as you walk. With the help of orthotic insoles, you can give your arches the support they deserve.
Orthotic insoles will give your growing, expanding, and potentially flatter feet the support they need by fully supporting your arch while also stabilizing your heel to concentrate the fatty pad underneath your heel bone. This will prevent overpronation while giving you firm, comfortable support.
You may be asking if the orthotic insoles you wore before will fit you during pregnancy. With the changes to your foot’s length, width, and arch height, it’s more likely than not that you will need new insoles during pregnancy.
When you’re pregnant, comfort is one of your top priorities. By using orthotic insoles, your feet will thank you as they’re helping you carry your soon-to-be baby. Stride on in comfort with the use of orthotic insoles that are right for your feet.
Heel Pain During Pregnancy
Differentiating Between Achy Feet And Plantar Fasciitis
Everyone experiences sore, tired feet once in awhile, particularly after a busy day or after strenuous exercise. This is usually nothing to worry about. This type of pain will generally resolve itself in a day or two. Expectant mothers may also experience mild swelling in the feet during the second and third trimesters.
However, if you are expecting and you’ve begun to notice that foot pain is becoming a constant symptom, don’t ignore it. The hallmark symptom of Plantar Fasciitis is pain mostly localized in the bottom of your heel, either when you first get out of bed in the morning, or when you get to your feet after being seated for some time. You may notice that the discomfort decreases after being up and about for a short time. Pain may be described as aching, burning, sharp or hot-feeling. The nagging presence of this type of pain can wear on your nerves, leaving you feeling irritable or upset.
If these symptoms sound familiar to you, there is a chance that the weight gain associated with pregnancy may have caused you to develop Plantar Fasciitis. We urge you to talk to your doctor about any discomforts of any kind that you experience throughout your pregnancy, but the good news is that most cases of Plantar Fasciitis can be resolved at home with simple, natural methods.
How Plantar Fasciitis Is Treated During Pregnancy
Podiatrists state that more than 90% of Plantar Fasciitis cases can be resolved with conservative, at-home treatment. Your recovery will typically revolve around the following, simple steps:
- Wear properly-fitting shoes. High heels, narrow toes and a bad fit can actually cause you to develop Plantar Fasciitis and a host of other painful ailments. Wear shoes that support your arches, cushion your heels and offer toes room to flex and stretch. It’s especially important to wear shoes with a great fit during pregnancy to maintain balance and prevent falls. If you are experiencing foot swelling, you may need to wear shoes with a little extra room, or orthotic sandals.
- Purchase orthotic shoe inserts designed specifically for the condition of Plantar Fasciitis. Over-the-counter supermarket shoe inserts are intended to provide comfort and support, but not to treat plantar fasciitis. Instead, opt for something intended to resolve the underlying physical problem, not just treat the symptoms.
- Rest your feet. While doctors prescribe moderate exercise for most expectant mothers, it’s vital to your health and the health of your baby that you get adequate rest during daytime hours. Sit down, put your feet up and relax.
- Ice your heels. Read more about these simple, inexpensive Plantar Fasciitis icing options. Ask your obstetrician if it’s safe for you to apply ice.
- Heel stretching exercises can help to strengthen the injured plantar fascia ligament. Share our page of free heel stretching videos with your obstetrician to inquire which ones it will be safe for you to do.
With these five steps, you will be able to recover from this painful condition in nine out of ten cases, without the use of drugs and without the need for surgery. Most Heel That Pain customers report symptom relief within about a week of using our orthotics, in combination with rest and icing. Once you are out of pain, chances are you will feel so much better both physically and emotionally. Many moms-to-be also find additional therapies such as meditation or specialized pregnancy yoga exercises support their overall sense of well-being during the months of pregnancy. Our goal is to offer you the support you need to maintain healthy feet in the coming months.
Have a question about foot health or our Fascia-Bar orthotic inserts? Phone our patient support line at 877-215-3200.
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