Pregnancy triggers a wide range of changes in a woman'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 woman'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.
You may notice that your shoes are feeling tighter or your gait (how you walk) is different. That's because pregnancy can impact everything from your shoe size to your arch height. While some of these changes are temporary, others aren't.
Like the rest of your body, your feet can change during your pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones contribute to the loosening of your foot ligaments, causing your feet to expand, your feet and ankles to swell, and your arches to flatten.
While you're pregnant, help your feet feel better by avoiding high heels, choosing supportive, comfortable shoes and wearing supportive shoes in the house.
Foot expansion during pregnancy is common and can increase your shoe size and width while lowering your arch height.
Are Pregnancy Foot Changes Permanent?
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 “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. They also noted 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.”
Painful Feet After Pregnancy...
If your feet are still sore after pregnancy, or you suspect your arches have fallen, we recommend that you come in around 2 months post-partum for an evaluation. It does happen that feet which have flattened during pregnancy, do not always bounce back as expected. In some cases, this could be a permanent condition which may lead to possible foot, ankle, knee, or lower back problems.
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 already have orthotics - great! Make sure you continue to use them during your pregnancy and after. If they are more than 3 years old and you have been wearing them consistently you will probably need an updated gait analysis and a new pair. If you have orthotics, but haven't been wearing them - bring them in and let's see how they are working for you.
For more info on the custom foot orthotic treatment at Dr For Moms, call to speak to one of our expert team members who would be happy to help, or request an appointment for your gait analysis online.