Foot pain is one of those frustrating health conditions that can be difficult to combat. Between plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, fallen arches (and more), there’s a never-ending stream of causes of foot pain.
Many pregnant women experience foot pain. Contrary to common belief, simply “dealing with it” is not the correct answer. Painful, swollen feet, arch pain, and ingrown toenails are all common causes of foot pain in pregnant women. Walking technique may also be to blame!
If you’re suffering from foot pain during pregnancy, this article is for you. Below, we’ll break down some of the common causes of foot pain during pregnancy and present several practical treatment options.
Common Causes of Foot Pain During Pregnancy
Weight gain during pregnancy is natural and completely expected. Women of average weight can expect to gain upwards of twenty to thirty pounds, whereas underweight women can expect to gain even more. Overweight women can expect to gain around fifteen pounds.
Weight gain may contribute to foot pain: edema, overpronation, and bigger feet can all cause discomfort and pain. Increased body weight leads to increased pressure on the plantar fascia (the fibrous tissue that links the heel bone to the toes).
Foot Pain From Edema
Edema is puffiness and swelling caused by excess fluid buildup in the body. Pregnant women most often experience edema in their ankles and feet. It is quite common for women to experience edema during pregnancy — more than three-quarters of pregnant women suffer from it — and it can begin during the second trimester.
Edema occurs due to the body’s need to produce additional fluids for both the woman and the baby. During pregnancy, the body produces approximately 50% more fluids than it does normally. Increased blood flow and fluid pressure in the lower extremities may lead to fluid retention (and buildup) in the ankles and feet.
While uncomfortable, edema is typically not a serious medical issue. Mild edema (light to moderate swelling) is normal and is not a cause for concern for most pregnant women. It’s important to note that if the swelling continues to worsen (or spreads beyond the feet and ankles), you should contact your physician.
Tip: If your socks leave indents or red marks along the ankle, they are too tight.
Foot Pain From Overpronation
During pregnancy, the relatively rapid weight gain may cause a combination of arch fatigue or overpronation. Overpronation occurs when the arches of the feet flatten (‘flat feet’) and roll inward.
With the arch flattened, the plantar fascia (the ligament that runs through the arch of the foot) undergoes severe strain. The strain caused by overpronation can lead to the inflammation of the food — something best avoided — and is quite painful.
There are two main factors that play into overpronation and foot pain. First, as the woman gains weight, the arches of the feet experience ever-increasing amounts of pressure. This increased load bears down heavily on the arch and may cause it to flatten.
The second causal factor for overpronation is a shift in the body’s center of gravity. A pregnant woman gains weight across her body unevenly — weight gain is not distributed perfectly — and the feet need time to adjust. Unfortunately, the importance of proper foot care (stretching, use of supportive footwear) is not stressed to many pregnant women. The result is a body with a changed center of gravity that is more likely to feel the effects of overpronation.
Collapsed, weakened, or damaged arches can cause pain in a variety of ways. Depending on your specific ailment, you may suffer from any of the following:
- Sharp or stabbing pain along the bottom, middle, and ball of the foot
- Soreness or tenderness in the arch of the foot
- Increasing discomfort after standing for a period of time
- Pain when extending or contracting the foot
- Sharp or stabbing pain in the heel when walking or running
It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to suffer from foot pain early in the morning, only to find that the pain dissipates quickly after waking. However, Plantar fasciitis, or the inflammation of the plantar fascia, can be both debilitating and painful.
If this condition affects you, consult with your medical professional immediately and consider some of the at-home treatment options available today.
Release of the Relaxin Hormone
Pregnancy impacts every aspect of a woman’s body, including hormones. Hormones are ‘signaling molecules’ (chemical messengers) that regulate bodily functions. Think of hormones as the couriers that tell the body what to do in order to prepare for the pregnancy.
The endocrine system releases hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones then journey to their target cells and tell those cells what to do. Relaxin appears in large quantities during the first trimester.
What Does Relaxin Do?
Like all other hormones secreted into the bloodstream due to pregnancy, Relaxin has a unique role to play. Unsurprisingly, Relaxin is true to its name and helps the body loosen up. Specifically, Relaxin ‘relaxes’ the muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments of the body.
Relaxin plays an important role in childbirth. This hormone causes the ligaments in the pelvis and cervix to loosen, widen, and soften in preparation for the coming birth. Pregnant women will experience heightened levels of Relaxin during the first and third trimesters.
How Does Relaxin Impact Foot Pain?
Relaxin weakens and softens the supportive structures in your feet. As you gain weight during pregnancy, that increased weight bears down on your arches. Relaxin weakens these already-stressed structures and contributes to their collapse.
Treatment Options for Foot Pain During Pregnancy
Topical Magnesium Oil
Magnesium plays an important role in many bodily functions. This naturally-occurring mineral is responsible for over300 different chemical reactions in the body. In the context of pregnancy, magnesium is vital for muscle and skeletal health. Along with calcium, magnesium is one of the more important minerals used in the formation of healthy bones.
Magnesium may also play an important role in reducingmuscle cramps and headaches. If you’re suffering from foot pain during pregnancy, a topic magnesium oil may be a good option for you.
Topical magnesium oil is (technically) not an oil. Instead, think of it as a mixture of magnesium chloride ‘flakes’ and water. The resulting solution feels oily (hence the name) and is remarkable for its ease of use and fast absorption rate.
Using topic magnesium oil is simple. Most magnesium oils come in a simple spray bottle: simply apply the oil to your feet and legs and rub it in vigorously. You may also consider making a sort of magnesium oil bath: fill a basin or bathtub with water, add the oil, and let your feet and ankles soak.
Naboso™ Insoles are specially-designed insoles that target the nerves located at the bottom of the feet. Even minimal footwear blocks the skin of the bottom of the foot from coming into contact with the ground. Naboso™ Insoles aim to enhance the barefoot footwear experience through the application of a unique texture technology that maximizes foot stimulation.
Naboso Technology offers a range of different insoles for people with varying needs. The Naboso 1.5 Textured Insole, for example, is ideal for someone new to a barefoot or minimal footwear lifestyle. For for anyone looking to enhance their neuro-rehabilitation program, the Naboso Neuro is an excellent choice.
Regardless of the specific product chosen, all Naboso Insoles look to restore foot sensitivity and increase nerve stimulation. We encourage you to learn more about Naboso Technology products here: our proprioceptive insoles are on the cutting-edge of foot care.
Releasing Feet Daily with Power Plate® DualSphere™
As much as you’d like to get off your feet, life is never so easy. One of the most effective ways to treat foot pain during pregnancy is with a massage.
A Power Plate DualSphere is a fantastic way to release the tight muscles that make up the arches of your feet. Massage does more than simply feel good: it improves blood flow, stimulates muscles, and reduces soreness.
Using the DualSphere is not particularly complicated, but there are a few steps you’ll want to follow for maximum effectiveness. If the DualSphere is unavailable, consider using a triggerpoint massage ball.
- Sit down in a chair and place the Power Plate DualSphere on the ground in front of you
- Gently place your bare foot on top of the DualSphere, with the arch of your foot resting on top
- Select a comfortable vibration intensity and apply gentle pressure as you roll your foot forward and back, keeping your arch in contact with the DualSphere
It’s not uncommon to feel tenderness or even pain when performing this massage. The goal is to stimulate the muscles of the foot and release built-up tension in your arch. Consider massaging the arches of your feet daily. If you feel sharp or stabbing pains at any point, stop immediately and contact your doctor.
Arch Supports From Maternity Insoles
Maternity Insoles offers, as their name implies, a series of insoles aimed specifically at pregnant women. Their MommySteps™ Maternity Insoles provide a perfect blend of arch support and general foot comfort.
Unlike other insoles on the market, Maternity Insoles stress arch support above all else. When it comes to foot pain from pregnancy, the vast majority of problems arise from collapsed arches. With MommySteps™ Maternity Insoles, you will be able to support your arches from the very beginning of your pregnancy.
Even better, the company offers a mix of different insoles designed for common situations. For example, Maternity Insoles designed the Athletic & Active Insole specifically for pregnant women who are out and about in runners, trainers, and hiking boots. The Casual & Flats Insole fits perfectly inside your loafers, Toms, flats, and similar footwear.
Proper Walking Technique
Contrary to popular opinion, some things are not as easy as they seem. Walking (and walking properly) is one of those things.
While it is true that everyone’s anatomy is different, there are most certainly “right” and “wrong” ways to walk. Of course,
We’ll go ahead and break down proper walking technique below:
- Stand up and position your feet directly under your hips. There should be a straight line from your hipbones straight down to your feet. Likewise, avoid any external or internal rotation of the feet: point them straight ahead.
- Move one foot forward and let it fall. It’s vital that your heel lands before the rest of your foot — land heel first — so you’ll need to flex at the ankle.
- Roll the rest of the foot down — heel to toe — and push off with your toes.
- Move the rearward leg up and forward and repeat.
A common mistake is to “overstride” (taking excessively long steps). Instead of taking longer strides, focus on maintaining good walking form and pushing off with the toes.
With all the changes that your body is undergoing, it might seem strange to take the time to analyze your walking technique. However, if you’re struggling with foot pain during pregnancy, it’s a great idea to take a few minutes and make sure your walking technique isn’t to blame.
What’s the Takeaway?
Painful feet during pregnancy is an (unfortunately) normal occurrence that impacts many women. If you suffer from painful feet, consider the treatment options discussed in this article. You may benefit from topical magnesium oil, Naboso Technology Insoles, regular tissue release via massage, or arch supportive footwear.
You may also want to reconsider your walking technique. As a general rule, do not pursue active weight loss during pregnancy and always consult with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.