Pregnancy and Orthotics

Pregnancy and OrthoticsA common complaint of pregnant women is foot pain.  This pain often affects the front portion of the foot.  A study investigated changes in pressure that pregnant women experience to their feet during walking.  Pressure areas were measured during the last month of each trimester.  The results showed an increase in pressure that shifted from the heels to the middle and front portions of the feet throughout pregnancy.

This study helps explain the increased complaints of foot pain during pregnancy.  It is important to address these changes to prevent painful overuse injuries such as stress fractures and plantar fasciitis (heel or arch pain).  You can help minimize the risk of foot pain by wearing comfortable, supportive shoes.  You can also consider wearing a custom orthotic.  Custom orthotics are devices that are worn inside of your shoes.  They are custom made from a mold of your feet.  The orthotics help prevent or reduce foot pain by balancing the forward shift in weight and pressure during pregnancy.


Ribeiro AP, Trombini-Souza F, de Camargo Neves Sacco I, et al. Changes in the plantar pressure distribution during gait throughout gestation. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 101(5):415-423, 2011.

Foot Pain During Pregnancy

Your Feet and Legs: Foot Pain During Pregnancy

Foot Pain During PregnancyYour body undergoes remarkable changes during pregnancy.  These natural changes often affect your feet and legs as they are required to adapt to surging hormones in your body and to support increasing weight during pregnancy.  Common lower extremity symptoms include pain, swelling, and skin or nail changes.  While most of these changes typically resolve after you have your baby, there are safe and effective treatments available during pregnancy to ease your symptoms.

Foot Pain

At least one-third of women will complain of some type of foot pain during their pregnancy.  Weight gain as well as a forward shift of your center of gravity will increase pressure and contact areas especially to the front of your feet.

Another significant change affecting your feet is due to a hormone called relaxin.  This hormone surges during pregnancy.  It relaxes the joints in your pelvis to accommodate delivery of your baby, but it also increases the flexibility of the joints and weakens the supporting ligaments in your feet.  The combination of increased weight and the effects of hormones results in the flattening of your arch and feet (pronation).  Mild flattening of the arch is normal during pregnancy, but too much flattening can create instability and require your muscles to work harder when standing and walking.  This can lead to fatigue and pain in your arch and heels.

Many women will also notice that their feet appear to be growing in size especially during their third trimester and in the months after delivery.  This is due to both the flattening of the feet and increased fluid retention.

It is very important to take care of your feet to avoid foot pain during pregnancy.  Avoid walking barefoot and wearing unstable heels.  Instead, wear cushioning shoes with arch supports.  Orthotics can help relieve pain by increasing stability, supporting your arch, and offloading areas of pressure during your daily activities.  If your feet increase in size, wearing shoes that don’t fit properly can lead to a number of painful problems including ingrown nails.  Be sure to wear comfortable, wide shoes and measure your feet when purchasing new shoes.  Get plenty of rest and elevate your feet to help minimize swelling and pain.  If you still experience foot pain during pregnancy, talk with your doctor for more treatment options.

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Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

Your Feet and Legs: Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

Leg Cramps During PregnancyYour body undergoes remarkable changes during pregnancy.  These natural changes often affect your feet and legs as they are required to adapt to surging hormones in your body and to support increasing weight during pregnancy.  A common lower extremity symptom is leg cramps during pregnancy.  While most changes typically resolve after you have your baby, there are safe and effective treatments available during pregnancy to ease your symptoms.

Leg Cramps

Leg cramps affect around one-third of pregnant women especially during their second and third trimesters.  These sudden and painful spasms involve the calf muscles (gastrocnemius) behind your legs.  Muscle spasms can be precipitated by hormonal changes and mineral deficiencies such as low amounts of calcium.  During pregnancy, a hormone (relaxin) that allows your uterus to relax and prevent premature contractions is also responsible for decreasing the amount of calcium in your muscles.  In addition, your growing baby further deprives you of circulating calcium.  Low potassium and magnesium can also worsen symptoms.

There are simple measures to help prevent leg cramps.  Be sure to eat a well-balanced diet with adequate calcium, and remember to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.  Avoid sitting with your legs crossed, and avoid standing for long periods of time.  Stretch your calf muscles every day and especially before bed.  If approved by your provider, regular exercise such as walking can help improve circulation and diminish the spasms of your leg muscles.

If you experience a leg cramp, immediately stretch the calf muscle by bringing your foot up toward the front of your leg and gently massage the muscle.  Try to increase circulation by walking or by rotating your ankles clockwise and counter clockwise.  Warmth from a hot water bottle may also relieve the pain.

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