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Why your feet grow in pregnancy (or do they???)

It's a common reality for so many pregnant women: their feet change. Shoe choices change -- partly from decreased tolerance of certain styles, but also many women literally can't get their feet in some of their favorite shoes.

Rest assured, studies show that feet don't actually grow during pregnancy. But that doesn't mean your shoe size stays the same.

Feet might get bigger and perhaps wider, but researchers have found that these changes are strictly related to "volume" increase from fluid retention and the accumulation of adipose tissue. The good news about this is that assuming you return to your pre-pregnancy weight, you should be able to go back to your original shoe size (this also assumes, you were wearing comfortable shoes .... your shoe tolerance can also change!).

Another major change can be how we biomechanically "load" our foot joints under the increased weight of pregnancy and they ways we change our walking gait. There is no evidence of any skeletal changes in the feet or hormonal "loosening." But some researchers in small sample groups of pregnant women have been able to measures changes in arch height and foot print size. Many women experience what can be understood as increased tendency toward over pronation and a flattening of the arches.

The good news is that these biomechanically induced changes in our foot are not all permanent nor irreversible. The alignment and strength of our legs and hips affects the shape of our foot. Check out this explanation from biomechanist and natural movement blogger Katy Bowman.

Some helpful loving for those feet:

  • Focus on your hip strength and alignment. One simple movement to add is the pelvic list. Check out this video for explanation on how to get those lateral hip muscles turned on.

  • Choose your shoes wisely. Shoe choices affect more than just the comfort of our feet; they have a direct impact on leg pain and leg cramps, leg circulation, back and pelvic pain, as well as neck and shoulder pain.

  • More barefoot time. We all need to strengthen our feet and increasing the amount of time we spend barefoot gives our feet the opportunity to

  • Get some soft tissue work. Focused bodywork can help you on your transition to stronger and healthier feet. It can help with pain relief and offers you so much felt insight on what parts of your body are affecting other parts.

Wanna know more? Schedule an appointment for some intensive foot TLC!

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