On this week’s blog we are talking all things feet! More specifically, the toll pregnancy can have on your feet. I myself suffered from plantar fasciitis during pregnancy due to the weight gain. Unfortunately after my babies, my feet didn’t just shape back up and actually played a huge role in my chronic knee pain. After five years, I contacted a colleague of mine, Tony Bare, to make a custom pair of orthotics for me as a last ditch effort to help with my knee problems and wouldn’t you know….it helped tremendously! So this week, I bring you a guest blogger who knows a ton more about feet than I, Tony Bare and his trusty sidekick Amy Bare. Enjoy!
Walk into any pharmacy and you will likely find an entire aisle dedicated to the feet… things to soak your feet in, things to wrap your feet with, things to roll your feet across, pain relieving patches and a wide selection of shoe inserts. Who won’t you likely find in this aisle? Rarely a pregnant lady. Why? Pregnant ladies have been programmed to expect many aches, pains and traumatic bodily changes without complaint. Why is this such a common problem for pregnant women?
When you become pregnant your body starts secreting a hormone that makes your ligaments soften and stretch so your pelvis will stretch to allow your baby to be born. However, relaxin doesn’t just work on those ligaments…it works on all ligaments and the ligaments of your feet are no exception. Relaxin stays elevated for many months AFTER your baby is born and longer if you continue breast feeding.
Your feet are carrying you and your baby around, so the greater the load the more the ligaments will stretch out and the more of a beating your feet will take. The evil part of weight gain is that it goes on for another 2 years or so after the baby is born because you continue carrying her around on a hip or in a carrier because it is just more convenient than herding cats.
Towards the end of pregnancy your gait pattern changes and more so as the baby drops…you know that pregnancy waddle. The extra sideways motion is extra bad for your feet which are really designed to move you forward more than anything. This also gets worse after the baby is born if you carry her on your hips it changes your gait in a very asymmetrical pattern (wearing the baby is better for your physics.
The worst kind of walking you can do is the kind of walking that is very choppy and broken up with frequent changes of direction, starts and stops. What mom doesn’t spend her day walking around in circles and back and forth and sometimes upsides down? The best walking is to take the baby in a stroller and go for a walk outside where you don’t have to worry about the starts/stops/changing directions that happens constantly at home.
Many women do all the above barefoot, in slippers or maybe flipflops…but rarely in any kind of supportive shoe. Do yourself a favor and get a supportive pair of house shoes and maybe inserts. Have you ever wonder why some moms talk about their feet growing an extra size during pregnancy/postpartum? This is due to the stretching and strain on your ligaments during this time.
Tony has a Doctorate of Physical therapy and was the Army’s foot/ankle expert for almost 15 years and teaches that material to physical therapists across the country in his course: Thinking On Your Feet.
Amy was self-employed as a fitness franchise owner for 5 years, owning the largest pre and postnatal fitness program in the country and is certified to teach multiple fitness class formats and is a certified running coach. She also certified as a birth doula and childbirth educator and taught childbirth education classes and attended births in order to help the mothers have a more comfortable birthing experience. In addition to being a wife and mama to three, Amy is also very active and enjoys exercise and although now “retired” from running and has completed five full marathons.
Tony and Amy completed hundreds of evaluations on post-partum moms. This rare opportunity to evaluate so many mom’s in such a short period of time allowed him to recognize consistencies that might have taken 20 years of regular clinical work to accumulate.