Pregnancy & Feet
Pregnancy is an exciting time of life, but because of the increased weight, can have a significant impact on the feet and legs. During pregnancy, the centre of gravity changes drastically and the weight is shifted forwards, adding more stress on the knees and feet to maintain good balance and coordination. Swelling (oedema) and pronation (rolling in at the ankle) are the two main challenges to the feet and legs that women face throughout their pregnancy, though you may also experience cramping, varicose veins and other symptoms.
Oedema describes swelling, which in this case often occurs in the feet and legs. It is the increase in blood and fluids during pregnancy that causes oedema, which isn’t helped by pregnancy hormones that encourage fluid retention. When combined with the pressure from the growing fetus on the lower limbs, circulation is restricted and the swelling begins. Unfortunately, this means the drainage of fluids from the lower limbs is also impaired, keeping them swollen. Oedema can place great strain on various muscles, bones, joints, tissue and ligaments, and pain, discomfort aches, and even damage to affected structures.
This swelling can be reduced by regularly elevating feet, wearing good, supportive footwear that doesn’t restrict blood flow and push on your feet, ensuring your socks aren’t too tight and regularly walking or exercising to promote healthy blood flow. Ensure you also drink plenty of water and reduce your salt intake, which encourages fluid retention.
Pronation describes the position where the foot rolls in at the ankle, and is often referred to as flat feet. While pronation doesn’t create pain in itself, it is the effect it can create on the surrounding muscles, tissues, ligament, joints and bones that can cause feet to quickly become tired and ache. It is the extra weight that usually causes pronation, as well as certain pregnancy hormones that result in greater ligament laxity. An example of injured tissues from pronation is the plantar fascia, a thick fibrous band that spans your arch from the heel to the toes. As the extra weight and pronation stretch the fascia past the point that it can safely handle without damage, it develops microtears and becomes painful and swollen.
This is where orthotics can offer great relief by reducing the degree of pronation and helping keep the foot and its structures supported and in good alignment. Make sure to effectively manage or treat any injuries or conditions developed as a result of flat feet to stop them worsening throughout the pregnancy.