Sep 20, 2010

How to Avoid Barefoot AND Pregnant!

Five Tips on Buying the Best ‘Maternity’ Shoes For You

OK, just to clarify, we won’t be going into how to avoid the “pregnant” part, just the barefoot (as in you can’t stand a single shoe in your closet) while pregnant. After all, any woman who has been there knows that sooner or later, you reach the point where the only shoes an expectant Mom can tolerate usually have bunny ears and can be machine-washed.

With everything medical science knows about pregnancy and pre-natal care today, there are certain “distractions” that still plague pregnant women worldwide. Near the top of the list — largely because it shows up early and lingers weeks after your bundle of joy has appeared — are swollen feet. Known as edema (swelling) of the feet and ankles, foot pain is disturbing even when you’re not pregnant. The good news is there are several things you can do to reduce and even avoid this kind of pain.

When you’re pregnant, three things to happen that strongly affect your feet. The first two are (1) the normal retention of fluid during pregnancy and (2) the equally normal weight gain. Third, literally all the joints in your body, including your feet, are loosened up by the higher levels of hormones as your body prepares for delivery.

All this means is that your belly isn’t the only thing expanding during pregnancy. So are your feet, and for many women, their shoe size permanently goes up about one full size after pregnancy. Please don’t cry. Think of this as a rare opportunity to buy a whole new wardrobe of shoes!

If you’re a regular SSPC patient, then you already know to buy your shoes with a little “wiggle” room inside. Many of your sandals, clogs, soft fabric and good leather shoes might be salvaged. But as you’re pulling together your maternity wardrobe, why not invest in some dedicated “maternity” shoes?

Depending on the season and your lifestyle, you may be able to get by with one pair of dress shoes and one casual. For your dressier shoe, the first thing you must do is to semi-retire your four-inch pumps. Stick to shoes with a two-inch heel or less while you’re walking with a baby on board.

Look for shoes with non-skid soles and plenty of space for your feet to spread out. Shoes made of canvas or leather are the most “breathable” materials for your feet. The shoes to avoid are flip flops (they’re dangerous and offer no support) and shoes with shoelaces. Remember, the time will come in your pregnancy when you won’t be able to see your feet, much less tie shoelaces.

For a casual shoe, we like clogs, particularly German-made leather clogs (NOT the ones for $7 at Wal-Mart). These are favorites among surgeons, nurses, chefs, etc., who have to stand for long periods of time. They’re a little hard to run in, but that’s probably something pregnant women should avoid anyway.

As always, orthotic inserts are an especially good idea for pregnant women. When you’re pregnant, your center of gravity changes as you gain baby weight. Inserts help correct your newly distorted center of gravity. This not only lessens foot problems, it also reduces back and leg pain, too! By Month 8, you’ll be really glad you made the investment!

There are two kinds of inserts for pregnancy, one for the first two trimesters and one for the home-stretch. If you give SSPC a call, we can help you pick the inserts right for you.

Finally, we’re often asked if support hose can help reduce or eliminate foot and leg pain for pregnant women. Yes, but only during the early months. Just be sure that the foot of the pantyhose is not tight on your foot. Even if you have to go up a size, you never want to cut off the blood flow in your feet.

Now, that’s not hard to avoid barefoot and pregnant, is it?

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Aug 24, 2010

The New Butt-Firming Shoes: Do They Work?

Squats. When it comes to analyzing the pros and cons of the new butt-firming shoes, probably the real villain here is everyone’s powerful dislike of squats. After all, if we liked doing squats, who’d need the shoes? Everybody wants a glorious butt; no one wants to earn it the old-fashioned way.

So, can a specially designed shoe reward you with an impressive tush? As a podiatrist, I’ve had several patients recently ask me about the virtues of the new line of athletic shoes that are specifically designed to tone leg and buttock muscles. Sorry, but the short answer is “No.” In fact, the potential injuries stemming from these shoes can range from inflamed Achilles tendons to broken ankles.

Here’s the important thing to understand about the design of these new butt-firming shoes: The principle is to throw you off-balance. It is your body’s struggle to regain its balance that gives the illusion that the shoes are “working” your muscles.

This isn’t exercise, it’s your body in crisis-management mode.
“The instability built into [butt-enhancing shoes] makes a wearer work harder to maintain his or her balance – effectively giving muscles a more rigorous workout, shoe companies say,” writes USA Today’s Michael McCarthy in his June 30, 2010 article, “A revolutionary sneaker, or overhyped gimmick?”

This same principle is at work when you wear six-inch high heels. Again, your body is rushing to keep from toppling over, thus that energized feeling in your legs, which, BTW, I’m told wears thin rather quickly.

All shoes, even the new butt-firmers, change a person’s gait. This is why I regularly suggest to my male patients that they switch up their shoes and not wear the same pair every day. (Women seem to do this without much encouragement.) The idea is to switch around the pressure points on your feet. But routinely alternating shoes is a long way from trying to throw you off balance.

Here’s what I can enthusiastically recommend to those seeking a better butt: Skip the donut at breakfast and (in appropriate shoes) walk an extra block each day. The results will be the same, yet you will avoid (1) the cost of the shoes, (2) a trip to the emergency room, and, even better, (3) no squats!

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