View our Covid 19 protocols

How to Cope with Pregnancy Foot Pain

An interview with Alan Berman, DPM - Podiatrist, By Julie Revelant, June 23, 2013

If you’re pregnant, you probably can’t wait to get home and put your feet up.

If your feet hurt, you might have plantar fasciitis, a condition that affects about 10 percent of the population - and probably occurs more frequently in pregnant women, according to Phil Vasyli, podiatrist and founder of Orthaheel and Dr. Andrew Weil Integrative Footwear.
Here, find out exactly what plantar fasciitis is, what causes it and what you can do about it.

What is plantar fasciitis? The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs from the heel bone through the arch and ends at the toes. The plantar fascia’s job is to support the foot and enable the motion that allows you to walk.

Yet, when you’re pregnant, things can go awry. For starters, when you gain weight quickly, particularly during the first trimester, it can put a lot of strain on the plantar fascia and cause it to become inflamed. Exercising and wearing shoes without any support, especially during the summer months, can also make matters worse.

"The result is a sharp pain in the heel, especially after you’ve been sitting for awhile or when you wake up in the morning,” said Dr. Alan Berman, a podiatrist at Somers Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Group in Carmel, New York.

The body's release of the hormone relaxin, which helps to loosen the ligaments for birth, can also be a contributing factor.

“The combination of those two (factors) causes the pregnant woman’s foot to flatten significantly,” Vasyli said. In fact, changes in foot size and shape can actually be permanent, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.

So what’s a pregnant woman to do? Get support.
You might think a shoe insert for your heel would help, but Berman said, “If you don’t support the arch, it’s not as efficient.”

Any drugstore shoe insert will do, according to Berman. Also, nix the flimsy flip-flop and flat sandal and look for a shoe that has good arch support.

Put your feet up.
To reduce swelling, elevate your feet as much as possible. You can also prop a few pillows under your feet and sleep on your left side at night, so blood flows back to your heart.

Ice it.
Applying ice can help with the inflammation. Wrap an ice pack with a towel and let your feet rest on it for 20 minutes.

The best way to relieve the tightness and pain is to stretch the plantar fascia. Place a towel on the pad right under your toes and pull back. Stretching the calf muscle with a runner’s wall stretch can also help: Place two hands on a wall, bend your right leg and push your left heel into the ground. Switch sides and repeat.

Slow down.
Sure, you might have a burst of energy, but if you’re in pain, your body is telling you to cut back on too much exercise and extra to-dos.

See a pro.
If the pain doesn’t get better, consider seeing a podiatrist or an orthopedist. Plantar fasciitis can linger for weeks, months and even years after pregnancy. It all depends on your body, Berman said.

back to top

You Might Also Enjoy...

Know Your Options When You Tear Your Rotator Cuff

A rotator cuff tear might feel like game over, but it doesn’t have to be. We offer comprehensive treatments that range from conservative to surgical, and our experts are here to help you know which is right for you.

PRP - Why It's a Breakthrough in Treating Damaged Joints

You search tirelessly for treatments that will treat joint damage and deliver quick pain relief. But what if we told you that the most powerful healing agents are found just below your skin? Take a closer look at PRP — a natural solution to pain.

Understanding Your Treatment Options for Arthritis

Creak, crack, and pop. Your arthritic joints aren’t just painful and stiff — they’re keeping you from the things you love. Until now. Take a closer look at our most popular arthritis treatments and how they can help you live a pain-free life.

"Oh My Aching Body" webinar

In case you missed it, Dr. Buchalter and Dr. Khabie participated in a webinar about shoulder, knee, and hip pain with Northern Westchester Hospital.  Check it out!