We always think of spring as the time of new birth, but in fact August holds the prize as the month with the highest birth rate for women in the US. Since 7/10 pregnant women report foot and ankle problems, it’s a good idea to take a look at why. Ruling out all the obvious problems stemming from the massive changes going on inside your body, one culprit that we can avoid are high heels. There are a lot of myths concerning the health risk of high heels during pregnancy, but the truth is they’re not going to magically harm you, but there are risks to wearing high heels (or really any non-supportive shoe) while pregnant. There three main reasons for this:
- Change to the center of gravity - Women gain weight during pregnancy, this is a fact that is often over-dramatized, but even if you keep a healthy diet and exercise, the life form inside you has volume and weight so you will inevitably being getting larger and heavier. This completely changes your center of gravity, pulling you forward and resulting in extra pressure on the knees and feet. High heels will also shift a woman’s center of gravity forward, compounding the problem. If you insist on high heels, choose something very low that offers support. Your feet will thank you.
- Muscles - Lot’s of fun things happen to your leg muscles when you’re pregnant. Cramps are a common symptom of muscle fatigue due to increased body weight. Hormones released during pregnancy will loosen the muscles and ligaments in the foot, so when we use our foot muscles too much with no support (like when we wear high heels), permanent changes to the foot can occur. Wear tennis shoes with Velcro or slip on shoes with arch support. If you must wear heels, do so for short periods of time and raise your feet afterwards to reduce swelling.
- Tripping - Remember that center of gravity thing we just talked about? Not only does that tilt women forward adding pressure to their feet with every step, it also makes them unstable, which can lead to a nasty fall. Technically, this can happen to anyone wearing high heels at any time, but if you’re pregnant a fall could mean serious complications for both mother and baby. It’s best to just go with a flat and supportive shoe that keeps you firmly planted on the ground.
While high heels are not the enemy, they should be avoided as much as possible during pregnancy to protect the health of everyone involved. Your muscles need support so that your feet can keep up with your kid for years to come.