Your shoes are laced, the baby is in the in the new running stroller and you are finally ready for your first walk/jog in an attempt to shed your extra baby weight. Ahh, how refreshing! Then, the next day it hits you: It may be foot pain, knee pain, hip pain, or back pain (or all of the previous) which causes an extra 15-30 minutes for you to get loosened up in order to face the world. It is easy to chalk this up to “being out of shape.” However, the old adage, “No Pain, No Gain” does not apply here. In fact, muscle soreness should abate within 48 hours after exercise. If it does not or worsens as you continue to exercise, you may be falling victim to a hormone called “relaxin.” Relaxin is a placental hormone which is released by a woman’s body in preparation for child birth. It is absolutely necessary as it causes ligamentous, muscle and tendon laxity which opens up the birth canal. If it were not for this hormone, the birth canal’s size would not accommodate the passage of the baby’s head during delivery. The underlying problem of relaxin is it is delivered through the blood as the fetus grows all the way through parturition (child birthing). So, besides creating space for the baby, it also softens the ligaments and tendons throughout all of the body’s weight-bearing joints. When looking exclusively at the foot, there are 26 bones and 106 ligaments which provide the foot with its arch structures and shock absorbing functions. As relaxin softens these 106 ligaments, it is not uncommon for women to complain that their shoe size has increased or their foot has “widened.” Additionally, complaints that their body and joints “don’t feel right,” or “are out-of-alignment” are common. It is important to address these aches and pains earlier, rather than later. The general rule in exercise physiology is it will take twice as long for these types of injuries to heal as from the time you first experience symptoms until the time you first start your intervention. If you have excessive arch breakdown (a.k.a pronation), a treadmill evaluation (biomechanical exam) can be done by The Foot Mechanic™. In many cases, an orthotic can be the answer. An orthotic is the device that replaces the liner in the bottom of your shoe and re-creates your normal arch thereby returning your foot back to its “normal” mechanics. When choosing the proper orthotic, it is important to avoid over-the-counter (a.k.a. retail) products as they are not custom to your feet.
Dr. Brett Purdom, DPT, ATC, CSCS
The Foot Mechanic™