Pregnant women ‘should avoid high heels’

by Jane Kirby – 9 News – Jun 15 2010

Pregnant women are being warned against wearing heels.

Pregnant women wearing high heels are putting their feet at risk, an expert warns.

Pregnant women who want to emulate celebrities by wearing high heels are putting their feet at risk, an expert warns.

Lorraine Jones, from The UK Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, said women felt under pressure to wear stilettos but are risking long-term damage, as well as strains to their ankles and ligaments.

Furthermore, pregnant women routinely wear other unsuitable footwear, such as thongs, ballet pumps and Ugg boots, she said on Tuesday.

A poll of 1000 pregnant women for the Society found 66 per cent regularly wear thongs, 32 per cent wear high heels, 53 per cent ballet pumps and 30 per cent Ugg boots.

But Jones said none of these shoes are suitable because they offer little support.

“Weight gain and hormonal changes in pregnancy have a huge impact on the body,” she said.

“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.

“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.”

The survey of pregnant women found around half feel under pressure to keep up with celebrity trends.

Yet seven out of 10 have suffered foot problems in pregnancy including swollen ankles (37 per cent, swollen feet (45 per cent) and foot arch and heel pain (16 per cent).

If women must wear high heels, they should only do so very occasionally and at events where they will not be on their feet for too long, Jones said.

“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.

“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.”

The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrist has issued top tips for healthy feet in pregnancy, including:

– Wear comfortable, supportive footwear, ideally with a strap, laces, or Velcro. Supportive footwear with extra shock absorption, a supportive arch and firm heel is essential.

– Choose a heel height of three cm as this shifts weight a little further forward on to the feet, which can help alleviate discomfort.

– Avoid wearing high heels as this can place unnecessary pressure on joints at a time when they are already under strain.

– Avoid crossing legs or ankles when sitting.

– Keep active by keeping the lower limbs moving even when resting. Lying on the back and simulating riding a bike will help muscles in the leg and can reduce swelling. Rotating the ankles can also prevent cramps.

– Make sure there is one cm between the longest toe and the end of the shoe.

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