Pregnant women are feeling pressure to keep up with fashion trends and are risking pain and severe foot problems in doing so, due to unsuitable footwear – warns The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists.
A thousand pregnant and recently pregnant women were surveyed as part of The Society’s annual Feet for Life month in June, which this year focuses on raising awareness of the importance of foot health in pregnancy. More than half of the women admitted to feeling under pressure to follow celebrity fashion trends while pregnant, with many opting for fashionable yet unsupportive shoes such as high heels (32 per cent), ballet pumps (53 per cent), flip flops (66 per cent) and Ugg boots (30 per cent).
With 70 per cent of pregnant women admitting to suffering from foot problems like swollen ankles (37 per cent), swollen feet (45 per cent) and arch and heel pain (16 per cent) whilst pregnant, podiatrists are urging women to wear supportive, wide fitting shoes to minimise discomfort and avoid long term damage.
Lorraine Jones, podiatrist from The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists said: “Weight gain and hormonal changes in pregnancy have a huge impact on the body. Muscles and ligaments soften and stretch because of an increase in the ovarian hormone relaxin which makes your feet more prone to ankle and ligament strains on a daily basis. High heels alter your posture, shorten your calf muscles and place increased pressure on your back and knees.
In pregnancy this places extra pressure on your joints when they are already under strain which can result in a host of foot, leg and back problems and could increase the likelihood of falls. Shoes like ballet pumps, flip flops and Ugg boots are also unsuitable for daily wear in pregnancy because they don’t provide your feet with the necessary support.
Lorraine added: “If you’re pregnant choose well fitted, round toed and low heeled, comfortable shoes with straps to support the foot and ankle and help minimise discomfort and prevent the prospect of long term damage. There are so many different shoes available today that you can still wear fashionable footwear which is supportive and comfortable. Many of the pregnant celebrities you see wearing high heels in magazines are attending events, so like them, try to keep your high heeled, high fashion shoes for a special occasion and stick to a more supportive shoe on a daily basis.”
The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists’ top tips to healthy feet in pregnancy:
Wear comfortable, supportive footwear – ideally with a strap, laces, or Velcro. Choose a heel height of 3cm as this shifts your weight a little further forward on your feet which can help alleviate discomfort. Avoid wearing high heels as this can place unnecessary pressure on your joints at a time when they are already under strain. Supportive footwear with extra shock absorption, a supportive arch and firm heel is essential.
Don’t cross your legs or ankles when sitting Keep active – keep the lower limbs moving even when resting. Lying on your back and simulating riding a bike will help the muscles in the leg and encourage swelling to reduce. Prevent cramps from occurring by boosting circulation – try rotating your ankles ten times to the left and ten times to the right, and repeating. Before you start an exercise programme, check with your midwife or GP Raise your feet and legs up whenever you can and do daily leg and calf stretches If you experience arch pain visit a podiatrist who, if necessary, will be able to provide special inserts for your shoes to help treat the problem Wear surgical stockings – with advice from your midwife, GP or health professional Feet tend to swell during the day, so buy shoes later in the afternoon when your feet are at their largest Make sure there is 1cm between the longest toe and the end of the shoe.
Choose a shoe with a strap to keep it firmly on your foot, avoiding fiddly straps which are difficult to do up – especially in the final trimester of your pregnancy! Choose shoes with a toe box that is high enough and wide enough to comfortably fit, either rounded or square shaped, not pointed.
The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists is the leading professional body for registered chiropodists and podiatrists in the UK. In short, they’re the UK’s experts for everything and anything to do with feet. Podiatry (also known as chiropody) is the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and other disorders of the feet.
The research was carried out on behalf of The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists online by One Poll amongst 1,000 women who are pregnant or have been pregnant in the last 2 years. Fieldwork was carried out between 23.05.10 and 30.05.10.