Pregnancy will cause many changes in women. Weight gain and hormonal changes impact the musculoskeletal system, which includes the spine and lower extremities (feet and ankles). Some of the more common changes include the following:
Increase in foot width, length and/or arch height
A buildup of fluid and tissue in the lower extremities causes the widening and swelling of the feet and a decrease in arch height (flat feet). Pregnant women may notice that they can no longer wear their shoes, and must go up in size. These changes tend to reverse post-partum, but some women may notice a permanent change in their feet. Measure your feet regularly during pregnancy to ensure that you are wearing the correct size shoes.
The foot and ankle joints may become lax and will create instability in pregnant women. Your gait may also change during the various stages of pregnancy, leading to a broader gait to balance.
Calf swelling and cramping
Blood flow from your legs to your heart is slower during pregnancy due to the increased size of the uterus and fetus, leading to a buildup of fluid in the legs. To help relieve swelling, wear compression socks and participate in regular walking/low impact aerobic exercise. It’s important to hydrate and also stretch/massage your calf muscles to relieve soreness. Elevate your feet as often as possible to reduce swelling.
Heel, arch or ball-of-foot pain
Over-pronation, or flat feet, during pregnancy is caused when the arch of the foot flattens out upon weight bearing. This causes the feet roll inward when walking, thus causing stress on the plantar fascia (the band of tissue that runs from the heel to the forefront of the feet) leading to significant pain. Wearing proper footwear is key, so choose shoes that provide extra support and shock absorption. Custom orthotics may also be prescribed to help provide relief.
If you’re experiencing any of the above, or other foot/ankle related issues, please call us today at (317) 573-4250.