Pregnancy and the Ever-Increasing Foot
Women on the verge of becoming mothers could be on the verge of a larger shoe size, too.
On the long list of bodily changes that occur during pregnancy, such as stretch marks, one common alteration is rarely addressed.
A woman’s foot size may expand, often becoming longer and wider.
“It always surprises people to see that foot changes happen during pregnancy,” says Dr. Shannon Hardy, obstetrics/gynecology, Houston Methodist, Houston, Texas.
And the spread may be more than a smidge.
“I see plenty of patients change shoe size,” Dr. Hardy says.
This happens as the arches of your feet flatten out.
Relatively rapid weight gain is one possible cause. Another is that your body produces relaxin, a hormone that relaxes ligaments in your body, including your feet, to help delivery.
With changing foot size in mind, you probably want to scratch expensive designer shoes off your shopping list if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
However, you’ll still want to protect your feet.
Although you may not avoid a new shoe size, wearing appropriate shoes, getting exercise and staying within weight-gain guidelines will help.
Even if high heels are a necessary part of your work wardrobe, try to get away from them as often as possible and opt for flats instead, Dr. Hardy says.
“Most pregnant women can’t avoid heels at some point in pregnancy. You can wear them, but not for long periods of time,” she says.
Flip-flops, the opposite of heels, get a better response.
“I get asked all the time if flip-flops are bad for you. It depends on the flip-flops,” says Dr. Naomi Shields, Advanced Orthopaedic Associates, Wichita, Kan.
She recommends a version that has a rigid sole and built-in arch.
If you prefer sandals, pick a style with straps that come as close to the ankle as possible to support your foot, and also includes arch support, Dr. Shields says.
Give shoes or sandals the foot specialist’s flex test.
Take the shoe by the heel and toe and try to bend the two ends to meet. Either the shoe shouldn’t bend or if it bends should do so at the ball. A shoe that bends in the center isn’t providing arch support.
It’s especially important to wear shoes with support if you’re overweight, or if you gain a lot of weight during pregnancy, according to Dr. Shields
Along with proper footwear, your feet can benefit from exercise.
“Talk to a physical therapist about foot strengthening exercises to keep your feet flexible,” Dr. Hardy says.
With pregnancy your center of gravity changes.
“You will use different muscles in your feet to keep your balance. You may use muscles you didn’t use before; feel strain you didn’t feel before,” Dr. Hardy says.
Even though pregnancy is not the time to go on a weight-loss diet, you should be aware that the extra pounds could take a toll on your arches.
“If you already have a proclivity to flat feet, adding 20 to 30 pounds quickly may have an effect,” Dr. Shields says.
Losing weight after pregnancy will help prevent feet from continuing to expand, she says.
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