By Oliver Fawcett
A new study published in the March 2013 edition of the American Journal of Physical Rehabilitation and Medicine shows that pregnancy may permanently change a woman’s feet.
Professor Neil Segal a researcher at the University of Iowa, heard women discussing changes in their shoe size with pregnancy, but found nothing about the topic in medical journals or textbooks on the subject. So he set out and collected foot posture measurements of 49 women during the first trimester of pregnancy and again 5 months after childbirth. He found that, for up to 70% of the women, their feet got bigger and the arch got flatter.
Professor Segal reports, ‘There was a drop in the arch of the foot. And there was a reduction in how rigid the tissue was supporting the arch. The foot spreads out, and there was an increase in the length as well as the width of the feet.’
The researchers suggest that the arch of the foot flattens out, possibly due to the extra weight and increased looseness of the joints associated with pregnancy.
Because the feet didn’t return to a smaller size, Segal thinks the changes in foot posture are permanent. He suggests the foot posture changes may partially account for some women’s joint problems, ‘It is possible that these foot posture changes that occur during pregnancy may help explain why in comparison to men, women are at higher risk for developing pain with arthritis in the feet, ankles, knees and hips.’
This permanent change to a women’s feet has also been reported as stressful for some women. Many claim they can no longer wear the same shoes they owned due to the permanent changes and are forced to replace all their footwear with a size or two larger. Such an unforeseen and often over looked expense force many low income earners to grab the cheapest shoes they can find which offer no support for their already suffering feet and ankles increasing the risk of developing many of the serious conditions such as musculoskeletal disorders and arthritis they have now become vulnerable to.
Setting aside funds and budgeting for quality orthodics and podiatrist approved footwear that will support your feet and ankles is highly recommended. I would also suggest finding a qualified Podiatrist to care for your feet before, during and after your pregnancy to ensure you have the best care.
Oliver Fawcett B. App. Science (Podiatry) Director and Principal Podiatrist at Foot Health Clinic, Samford QLD. Please visit our website Foot Health Clinic where you can learn more about general foot health, diabetes and amputation prevention and orthodics.