It’s been 3 months since you had your second child and you’re motivated to get your body back.  Maybe you look to running as a new way to get back in shape.  Or maybe it’s an old, familiar way for you to destress and stay fit.  Whatever the reason, you need to get moving, stat. You load up the jogging stroller with all the essentials, and bundle up your bundle of joy on a drizzly Seattle morning.  But your running shoes seem tight, and your arches are aching for no apparent reason.  What gives?

There several reasons why moms experience prenatal and postpartum foot issues.  You can blame a pregnancy hormone for your larger foot.  Having issues with ingrown toenails, when you never had one before?  Even toes can become swollen, contributing to inflammation of the skin around the nail.  And the rapid prenatal weight gain is the likely culprit for that new heel pain.  

I frequently see new mothers in my Seattle podiatry office with these issues.  If this article relates to you in any way, consider the following tips before you hit the pavement.

1. Get Your Feet Measured. You’re not just imagining that your feet have grown a whole size.  The pregnancy hormone that relaxes the ligaments in your pelvis also relaxes the ligaments in your feet, allowing the arch to fatten and overall length to increase.  When shopping for your new kicks, take the time to measure the length and width of your feet.  They’ll thank you for avoiding cramped toes and blisters.

2. Buy A New Pair of Shoes.  Running shoes wear out after 500 miles.  Even if the exterior looks pristine, the inner shock-absorbing materials are breaking down, decreasing their degree of support and stability.   

3. Test Your Running Shoes for Stability.  Maybe you’re loyal to Brooks or Saucony, or you’ve always run in Nikes or Asics.  But remember that within a given brand, each model varies in the degree of  support and stability it provides.  If your feet require a great degree of support (and if you’re reading this, they probably do!), try this technique to evaluate a shoe: holding the ends of the shoe, try to bend it in half; the shoe should only bend at the ball of the foot (where our feet bend during push-off), not the middle. Next, try to twist the shoe like you’d wring out a towel; the shoe should not easily twist.

4. Avoid high heels. Those who frequently wear high heels are more likely to experience plantar fasciitis, a common cause of heel pain in runners.  High heels cause the calf muscle to contract and Achilles tendon to shorten, not to mention forcing more body weight onto the ball of the foot.  Try to stick to a 1-inch heel or less, and save your stilettos for special occasions only.  

5. Stretching.A pre-run warm-up and stretching session is essential to prevent injury.  You’ll get more benefit from your stretch when the muscles are warm, so try a 10 minute jog before a variety of upper- and lower-body stretches, as recommended by Runner’s World magazine. Including these Dynamic Warm-ups for Runners will enhance your performance and prevent injury before all athletic activities.

6. Don’t ignore foot pain.  Contrary to what many of us believe, foot pain is not normal. If you begin to feel pain while running, there’s no benefit to running through it, and may even exacerbate a condition, such as a stress fracture.  If symptoms persist despite rest and self-care, see your foot doctor promptly.  

Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.

For more information about heel pain in runners download our eBook, "The Complete Guide to Stopping Heel Pain in Runners".

Seattle foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Rion Berg offers foot care for patients with bunions, heel pain, diabetes, fungal toenails, ingrown nails, and surgical solutions when needed to residents of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and other surrounding suburbs.

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