Your shoes and your pelvic floor are in a relationship. Just like I said your psoas and your birth are. The pelvic floor GETS out there. It's crazy just HOW connected everything is. That's why doing something like a kegel which is targeting ONE thing, that is SO CONNECTED TO EVERYTHING ELSE doesn't make all that much sense in the grand scheme of things. For a bunch of other reasons as well that are beyond the scope of this post about shoes.
Shoes. I could talk a lot about shoes, but the one part of the shoe I'm going to focus on today is the HEEL. Ponder this picture:
I talked about pelvic alignment, and I talked about backing up. Both important for loading the body properly (which will help with birthing, decreasing pain, bone density, and so many more things!). But guess what? There is no way to stand or move in alignment with any degree of heel. And this does not just apply to a million inch high stilettos. This is any degree of heel. Think "Well, I don't wear heels so I'm fine." That's what I thought too. I've never been into heels and always felt awkward in them. But then I looked at my shoes. Even my ATHLETIC SHOES and they all have some degree of a positive heel. Which means that the body is having to make compensations.... otherwise it would fall over.
So, if you wear heels all the live long day and now you're pregnant you need to get rid of them, right? Well, not exactly. If you've been wearing heels for years and years, your body has.... you guessed it.... adapted to where it is most of the time. One of those adaptations is shortened calves. And that chain travels all the way up the body. The pelvis is probably going to have a more difficult time untucking. Basically, all those short muscles coupled with a now big belly are going to exasperate the problems already there that are associated to footwear choices. Of course the same stuff applies whether or not someone is pregnant. Man or woman. But, pregnancy is going to exasperate the problem. So the back pain, PFD, etc is not a result of pregnancy. It's a result of alignment with the increased load that pregnancy brings. So whether or not someone was pregnant the problem was there. The pregnancy just sped up the progress to issues with it. With the tucked pelvis and weight shift compensation the pelvic floor is not going to be strengthened and will actually be weakened. SO slowly start coming down off the heels rather than going cold turkey. And rrrrreally start to stretch the calves and hamstrings and think about your alignment. You can't overstretch your calves and hamstrings. Here's the single legged calf stretch:
I tried taking photos but I seriously get 3 seconds after I hit "take photo" until the photo takes. That is not enough time to RUN into a calf stretch, yo. I need a solution and it's not bribing my children.
Can you keep your weight back in your heels while stretching your calf? Hold each stretch for a good 60 seconds. And see if you can do this stretch 3 times a day, minimum. What about while you're cooking, checking your email, brushing your teeth? Work it into your day!! If you don't have a half dome, a rolled up yoga mat works almost as good. Or I've done a calf stretch on a fallen over tree branch on a walk before. Seriously, just be creative, but thinking about it doesn't lengthen your calves. You have to actually DO IT. JUST DO IT, like Nike says.
And get outta those heels. I even take the inserts out of my heel-less shoes because they usually do give you some degree of raised of heel.
Here are some of my favorite shoes. Keep in mind that there are more comprehensive lists out there, these are just the ones that I *own* and have personal experience with. Note: I am not getting paid by any of these companies.
Merrell Havens. (I take out the insert and wear wool socks for winter). I had such a hard time finding good boots that didn't have any heel. I like these! Side note: I like my fringy Minnetonka Moccasins too for their lack of heel but they are a little bit tight in the toe area.
Lems. My husband and I both have these and I wear them more often than any other shoe. They are the shoes I wear to births and around town. They have a flexible "barefoot" bottom, but they aren't such conversation starters like my vibram five fingers are. Because sometimes you just want to get through the grocery store without having ten conversations about your shoes.
Vibram five fingers. These are truly awesome but if you are used to heels I would not suggest you go immediately from heels to these. I also would be careful about running and doing long long walks on concrete. Find some good dirt trials or something. I wore them when I was about 14 weeks pregnant with my 3rd child on a nice long hike in Kauai, Hawaii.
Ah, rats, we didn't have a full body shot of me in mine, but I promise i have them on. They're my favorite color... turquoise. Here is a photo of my husband in his. Ahhh, Kauai, I hope we meet again someday soon! Moving on...
Unshoes. I have not gotten these yet, but I am SO EXCITED TO GET THEM. I contributed to their kickstart so I could get a new style! Support small businesses, yo!! One of the amazing ladies at my training in California has some and I fell in love. Honestly, there were so many great shoes in California at my training... it made me want to go out and spend a bunch of money on barefoot shoes!! Seriously. These will be great for..... whenever it eventually gets warm in Minnesota. Not today when it feels like a million degrees below zero because it's ALMOST FREAKING APRIL. Ahhhh! Anyway, these look great and are much better than flip flops for a good shoe for the warmer weather. You can find cheap sandals with a back and zero heel as well... I had some last year that I got second hand from my little sister (yes I get my little sister's hand me downs. It's awesome!)
Flip flops are *not* good for alignment because we have to change our walking pattern to keep them on. I know you don't feel like you have to, but you do. This is coming from a former flip flop junkie. So, I didn't wear heels all day long, but I definitely wore flip flops. And because of that, I really have to work on my top of the foot stretch!! Here's a photo of it:
Seriously, 3 seconds!! Darn photo booth. I run and stretch! Anyway, my front leg is straight (sorry for the baggy pants, hard to tell) and weight is still back in the heels. Try not to cheat by letting the ankle come out to the side.
So, go check out your shoe collection and report back on your findings! Also, comment with some of YOUR favorite shoes so I can add to my drool list of wants. And, go stretch your calves and the top of your feet.
Mama Aligned is Lindsay McCoy.