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Pregnant Women Put Fashion Before Foot Health

Unsuitable Footwear Can Lead to Severe Foot Problems, Podiatrists Warn
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

June 15, 2010 -- The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists in the U.K. says pregnant women are risking the health of their feet to keep up with celebrity trends. It says that could be a painful mistake.

The society has found from a survey that half of pregnant women in the U.K. feel pressured to keep up with celebrity fashion. Nearly a third of women risk foot health by wearing high heels during pregnancy and two-thirds wear flip-flops, which lack necessary support.

One thousand pregnant and recently pregnant women were questioned for the society's annual Feet for Life month.

Other unsuitable footwear included ballet pumps (53%) and Ugg style boots (30%).

The society found 70% of pregnant women suffer from foot problems like swollen ankles (37%), swollen feet (45%), and arch and heel pain (16%).

Podiatrists are urging women to wear supportive, wide-fitting shoes to stay comfortable and avoid long-term damage.

Lorraine Jones, a podiatrist from The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, says in a news release: "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."

She adds: "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. 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."

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