ORTHOTICS DURING PREGNANCY
September 2021, Christophe Champs
From puberty through to the menopause, women experience monthly changes in their body. This is especially true whilst pregnant. For example, during pregnancy, a woman produces more oestrogen than she does during the rest of her life. This represents a huge change – one that needs to be properly acknowledged and taken care of in order to protect the mum-to-be’s physical and mental health.
It’s not just hormones that change during pregnancy, the physical structure of the body is put under significant stress too. This can manifest in many different symptoms (and, thanks to the internet, even more ways to offset them). Orthotics is a particularly powerful tool in this scenario though. Let’s find out why.
The joints and muscles are subject to a lot of extra stress as the baby grows. The pain or discomfort that this causes is simply one of the many sacrifices that comes with bearing a child, but it’s one that can be offset with orthotics.
Back to hormones for a second – the predominant ones that vary the most during pregnancy are oestrogen and progesterone. They’re present for a reason, but what are their roles? Well during puberty, oestrogen is essential to strengthen the bones. During pregnancy though both oestrogen, and progesterone act on the ligaments to make them softer and in turn make the joints weaker.
Because the ligaments are looser during the pregnancy, women are very much exposed to sprains or strains for those 9 months. When your ligaments are compromised an excess demand is placed on your tendons, which are now the sole protector of your joints. Tendons connect muscles and bones. Just like muscles, they are subject to pain, fatigue, and injury when overworked.
So, you have ligament laxity, hypermobility, a growing uterus and some natural extra weight mainly at the front of the body. Then of course there’s the extra weight that your breasts develop during this time. It follows that your standing posture will change completely. You will lean forwards and your posterior chains of muscles will have to work a bit more to hold you back, your spine will curve and some of your joints could impinged, in turn causing a whole range of damage, pain and injury.
So, while great for helping to accommodate the baby, the change in oestrogen levels can cause all sorts of issues for mum. But what to do? Today, there are more and more “mummy MOT’s” available in clinic and online – I could not recommend them enough. The physiotherapists will also work on the pelvic floor which is of course important. What tends to go overlooked in terms of keeping you strong and healthy throughout your pregnancy though is your foot support.
What can you expect from a pair of orthotics?
Simply put, orthotics are like an invisible pair of walking sticks.
They work on your axis and bone alignment, to improve your overall balance and standing posture.
These devices are carefully moulded to your body’s needs. They help hold and support your soles and keep every joint from that point upwards properly aligned. Not only that but they allow all groups of muscles to work together efficiently.
So, as you can see, orthotics can be seriously helpful during pregnancy.
Do I need ongoing support?
More than likely, yes. Still today, and even after gathering lots of testimonials from female patients who’ve been through pregnancy, I could not tell you if the most challenging part of the pregnancy for the body is the 9 months before or the 2 years after giving birth.
At first when you “take your badge off”, you lose your seat in the tube and end up commuting on your feet. Things go quickly from there. Just think about the time you’ll spend barefoot at home whilst on maternity leave carrying and running after the little one. Being vigilant 24/7 means that you will rarely (or never!) look at your own back and posture when you grab, carry, or feed the little one.
As soon as your baby arrives, right after the placenta is delivered your oestrogen level will drop. You might have offloaded a significant amount of weight now that you’re not carrying your baby, but you’re still not at your best physically. You probably won’t get as much sleep as before, and the fatigue and, for some reason, stress always seems to target our backs!
They say, “Listen to your body”. Sounds good, but when? You’ll be dealing with the demands of your newborn and self-care is easily forgotten. Now the good news is that with orthotics, there is much less thinking for you to do. You wear them, and they hold you, working as soon and as long you wear them, like a pair of glasses. If you don’t have any pair of orthotics, then start by wearing some supportive shoes, firm sole only bending under the ball of the foot, with laces. And please... lace them up!
Finally, remember that custom orthotics is a conservative treatment. Reducing the amount of pain medication you take when your metabolism is experiencing all those internal changes will always be a safe plan.
If you’re keen to find exercises that are best suited to your lifestyle, don’t hesitate to get in touch with any of the Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Chiropractors, Barre/Pilates Instructors or Ergonomic Workplace Specialists who are part of our Trusted Network .
And if you have any questions for me, please feel free to email me at email@example.com.
PODO Orthotics mentioned in VANITY FAIR
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