About 70% of pregnant ladies admit to suffering from foot and leg problems such as swollen ankles, swollen feet, arch and heel pain, cramps, aching, itchiness and varicose veins.
Pregnant ladies feel under pressure to keep up with fashion trends, and risk pain and foot problems in doing so, due to unsuitable footwear. Some feel under pressure to follow celebrity fashion, and many opt for fashionable yet unsupportive shoes, such as high heels, ballet pumps, flip flops and Ugg boots.
Wearing high heels alters your posture, shortens your calf muscles and places increased pressure on your back and knees. In pregnancy this places extra pressure on your joints, which can result in foot, leg and back problems. If women must wear high heels, they should only do so occasionally and not be on their feet for long. Wearing high heels can also increase the risk of falls.
Weight gain and hormonal changes in pregnancy have a huge impact on the body, and the feet can often bear the brunt of the major changes a woman’s body will go through. Muscles and ligaments soften and stretch because of an increase in the ovarian hormone, Relaxin.
As the pregnancy progresses ladies obviously gain weight and increase in size, and as such it becomes more difficult to reach their feet.
During pregnancy the uterus puts pressure on the veins in the pelvis, slowing down the return of blood to the heart, Blood vessels in the toes are the smallest, which can cause fluid from the veins to leak into the surrounding tissues of the legs and feet, causing swelling and this pressure sometimes causes throbbing.
During this period it may be necessary to wear larger shoes, as the foot can increase in size.
Top tips for healthy feet and legs during pregnancy are –
- Sit with feet and legs elevated to reduce the risk of swelling
- Drink plenty of water and reduce your caffeine intake
- Do leg and calf stretches
- Don’t cross legs or ankles whilst sitting
- Avoid standing for long periods
- Keep active, even when sitting – rotate the foot at the ankle in circular movement, first one way and then the other. This will help to prevent cramps by boosting the circulation.
- Wear support hosiery to help circulation, with advice from your mid wife, GP or health professional.
- If you experience any arch pain, visit your podiatrist, it may be necessary to wear insoles.
Footwear for pregnancy –
- Feet can swell so when buying shoes, shop in the afternoon when your feet may be at their largest
- Try both shoes on and walk around a little to make sure they are not rubbing
- Keep heel height to about 3cm
- Wear a supportive shoe that is easy to fasten
- Choose a shoe which has a firm heel counter, a supportive arch and plenty of shock absorption
Look after your feet – you only get one pair!
SARAH SMOUT – FAMILY FOOTCARE CENTRE