FREE advice - Ask a specialist. Ask Dr Foot a Question about Foot Pain?
Being pregnant is probably one of the best things a woman can experience in her life, however there are many aspects during pregnancy that can take its toll on the physical part of their health including feet.
Just as much as you enjoy watching the bump grow week from week, month to month, with it comes weight gain and water retention, which leads to the discomfort of your feet. Healthy weight gain during pregnancy can alter a womans centre of gravity. This causes a new weight-bearing stance and added pressure to your feet and knees. Your posture and alignment can change and your everyday movements such as lifting, sitting, standing and walking will be affected.
The most common foot problem that pregnant women suffer is over-pronation or the flattening of the arch and edema, which leads to pain to the heel, arch or balls of your feet. Another discomfort may also be experiencing leg cramps, lower back pain and varicose veins with the increase of weight. Due to factors such as these it is essential for pregnant women to learn about foot care so their nine months is made as comfortable as possible for them.
Commonly know as flat feet, it is caused when the arch of a persons foot becomes flattened out with bearing of extra weight. Their feet roll inwards whilst walking. This can cause severe strain or even inflammation on the plantar fascia, which is the fibrous band of tissue that runs from the heel to the forefoot.
Over pronation or flat feet can make walking a painful experience and increases strain on the feet calves and/or back. Many pregnant women largely suffer from this in the duration of their pregnancy due to the added pressure that their bodies entail with the weight gain.
Untreated flat fleet can result to further foot pain such as Metatarsalgia (pain on the ball of your feet) and Plantar Fasciitis (intense heel pain). Both these conditions can be treated however to avoid such instances, wearing appropriate footwear such as athletic shoes which provides extra arch support to your feet. Alternatively, another recommendation is to use orthotics similar to the Dr Foot Pro insoles. This supports arches, cushions the heels and balls of your feet surmounting over pronation.
Commonly known as the swelling of the feet, typically occurs in the final trimester of pregnancies. Edema arises due to the accumulation of blood in the duration of pregnancy. The enlarged uterus applies pressure to the blood vessels in the pelvis and legs decreasing the circulation, this then results in blood gathering in the lower extremities. However the amount of water fluid in the body is the same prior to the pregnancy but has become displaced. Swollen feet become purplish in colour and at times the extra water retained whilst pregnant just adds to the swelling. If you find that you have swelling to the hands and face your doctor should be contacted immediately.
Tips to avoid and treat swollen feet:
- Elevate your feet as often as possible
- Wear socks that will not prevent circulation
- When driving or on long haul flights, ensure you take regular breaks to stretch your legs to encourage circulation
- Exercise-walking regularly is usually recommended but see your GP about an exercise programme
- Maintain a well-balanced diet, avoiding foods with increased levels of salt which source fluid 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 kind of pain persists, see your doctor.
Hormones and Foot Pain
Increased levels of hormones lead to retention of water when pregnant, so the bloated and swollen feeling is just a result of that. Nonetheless your body requires all this extra fluid as it enables all the nutrients and oxygen to get to your baby.
Naturally water retention is most prominent in your feet, ankles and calves as the uterus is applying pressure to the veins, which are carrying the blood back from your lower body. For that reason it blocks the blood flow to a certain extent, keeping the fluid in the legs and feet. The blood vessels in the feet and ankle are also one of the smallest in our bodies. Consequently the vessels struggle to assist the extra fluid travelling to its appointed area.
Ideas for relief:
- Again elevate your feet as often as you can. Try and raise your legs 6 to 12 inches above your heart for 15 to 20 minutes to help the blood flow back to your heart and lungs. Please do use support when undertaking such exercises.
- Sleep on your side, not your back. This relieves pressure on the vena cava, the largest vein that leads to your heart. Otherwise, the pressure slows the blood returning from the lower body.
- Consume fluids regularly. Dehydration worsens the state of swelling.
Monitor your weight. Women of normal weight should gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. Excessive weight gain exacerbates swelling and lead to further problems.
- Improve the circulation in your ankles with rotation exercises. Attempt to sit with one leg raised. Rotate your ankle 10 times to the right, then to the left. Then switch legs and continue to repeat this 10 times.
- Ice your ankles. With your feet lifted, apply ice to the inside of your ankles for 15 to 20 minutes every half hour to an hour.
To prevent foot and leg problems developing along the pregnancy, alternate circulation boosting exercises, this includes having a lot of rest, with you also putting your feet and legs from the start, regardless of you showing or not. This will do wonders for you as you progress with your pregnancy.
Foot cramps can be extremely painful, however the best way to ease the pain is to walk it out when they occur. But if you do get one in the middle of the night (which is likely) and you are in no mood to get out of bed, try grasping your foot with both hands and gently pressing your thumbs into the arch of your foot, pushing your toes.
As well as the discomforts that come with pregnancy, swelling may also make it tough for you to fit into your usual heels or boots. Although fashion is supposed to be all the way and to die for, unfortunately this will not be the case as it is not unusual for expectant mothers to go up half or to a full size in shoes. On the other hand with all the fluid retention the hormone relaxin is released primarily in the third trimester to relax your pelvic ligaments for childbirth, flattening and lengthening foot ligaments.
With not just needing larger shoes, it is imperative that you give your feet the much needed extra support and comfort. The centre of gravity will be shifting consistently as you gain weight, always ensure you wear shoes that balance you, and yes ladies that means avoiding your high heels!
Shoe buying tips
- Shop late in the day, your feet tend to swell as the day goes on
Make sure the shoes fit before you leave the store It’s a myth that you can break into them.
- Choose shoes with a square or round toe, avoid pointy-toed shoes.
- When buying boots, ensure they have room in the calf area, as your calves may swell. Also choose boots with a side zip as they are easier to get on and off than the pull-on style boots
- Replace worn out heels regularly as uneven heels can throw you off balance.
Finally, your pregnant so take advantage of having your feet massaged! The foot has a complex structure of 26 bones, 33 joints, layered with an intertwining web of over a 120 muscles, ligaments and nerves. A great foot massage can do wonders for tired and aching feet, so make the most of the excuse and have your feet massaged regularly.
The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting a doctor.