Study: Pregnancy Makes Women's Feet Bigger

First Posted: Mar 03, 2013 07:13 PM EST

According to the study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, pregnancy may permanently change the shape and size of the women's feet.

The arch of the foot flattens out during pregnancy, likely caused by the extra weight and increased laxity of the joints. Flat feet is one of the main common complaint among pregnant women.

"I had heard women reporting changes in their shoe size with pregnancy, but found nothing about that in medical journals or textbooks," says Neil Segal, M.D., associate professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation at the University of Iowa, where the study took place.

The study looked into 49 pregnant women and gathered static and dynamic arch measurements.

Past surveys done by Dr. Segal discovered 30 to 60 percent of women mentioned their shoe size altered after they were pregnant, compared to just 13 percent of women who had never been pregnant.

“In order to study this more scientifically, we measured women's feet at the beginning of their pregnancy and five months after delivery. We found that pregnancy does indeed lead to permanent changes in the feet”, Segal said.

The researchers discovered that approximately 60 percent to 70 percent of the women in the study, their feet became longer (up to close to half-inch) and wider, as well as a decrease in the arch.

However, the study indicated that second, third or higher number of pregnancies are unlikely to change the foot structure further.

The result of the study could explain why women are likely to have higher risk than men for spine, hip and knee pain and arthritis. A flattened foot may strain the ligaments in the foot`s sole, triggering changes in gait that insert extra pressure on the knees, Segal added.

The study is published in the March, 2013 American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 

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