During pregnancy, there are many changes that occur in the body. The one change that most women don’t realize is the change that occurs in their feet. Some of the main changes you may notice are swelling of the feet, flat feet, and pain in the arch and heel.
During my pregnancy I noticed that my feet started to look like they were getting flatter and I started to develop pain in my heels. This pain started to occur in my second trimester when most of the weight gain tends to happen. I had a hard time fitting in to some of my shoes and it felt like my feet had gotten bigger. Let’s discuss why these changes occur and ways we can manage the pain and discomfort.
We will start with swelling of the feet. Swelling, also known as edema, occurs when excess fluid collects in your tissues. A certain amount of swelling during pregnancy is normal because you are retaining more water. During pregnancy there is an increase in blood volume that helps you to carry extra oxygen and nutrients to your baby. Pregnancy hormones cause changes in blood vessels that can result in swelling. Gravity pulls all of the extra fluid down to your feet and ankles, causing the swelling.
Here are some tips that can help reduce swelling. Many of them worked for me!
- Keep your feet elevated as much as possible. If you are working, place a stool under your desk to help elevate the feet.
- Stretch your legs frequently if you are sitting for long periods of time. Make sure you stretch before walking or participating in any form of exercise.
- Wear comfortable shoes that allow for stretching.
- Do not wear socks or stockings that have a tight ring around the calves or ankles.
- Wear compressing socks or stockings to help keep the circulation going and to prevent pooling of blood.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Exercise regularly.
Flat feet and plantar fasciitis
Flat feet occur because during pregnancy there is an increase in hormones in your body. One of these hormones is called relaxin and it does just that, relaxes the ligaments in the body including the feet. Relaxation of the ligaments plus weight gain contributes to collapse of the arches causing flat feet. When this occurs you may end up having to go up half a shoe size and unfortunately this does not change post pregnancy.
When I noticed my arches starting to collapse, I made sure that I wore good supportive footwear. I also tried to avoid walking barefoot to help reduce pressure on the joints of my feet. I have hard wood floors and ceramic tile throughout my house so I always made sure I was wearing supportive sandals in the house, which helped prevent foot pain. This also helps prevent plantar fasciitis, or heel pain. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia is overstretched causing pain at the insertion point in the heel. When the arches collapse, they put a lot of strain on the plantar fascia, which can lead to inflammation of the fascia causing heel pain. Stretching and icing exercises can also help reduce heel pain.
These are the main changes that occur in the feet during pregnancy. Not all pregnant women experience these changes, however most will experience at least on of these changes. The changes can be mild or can be severe causing an increased amount of pain and discomfort. By following these tips on prevention and treatment of these symptoms, you can manage your pain level and still enjoy a happy and healthy pregnancy!
As the owner of, and a chiropodist (foot specialist) at, Ontario Foot and Orthotics, I welcome any of your questions or concerns. For more information, or to book an assessment, please contact Ontario Foot and Orthotics at one of our two locations: 519-623-3000 (Cambridge), 905-878-6479 (Milton). Or visit us online at www.ontariofoot.ca.