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Background: During pregnancy, physical and hormonal modifications occur. Morphologic alterations of the feet are found. These observations can induce alterations in plantar pressure. This study sought to investigate plantar pressures during gait in the last 4 months of pregnancy and in the postpartum period. A comparison with nulliparous women was conducted to investigate plantar pressure modifications during pregnancy.
Methods: Fifty-eight women in the last 4 months of pregnancy, nine postpartum women, and 23 healthy nonpregnant women (control group) performed gait trials on an electronic walkway at preferred speeds. The results for the three groups were compared using analysis of variance.
Results: During pregnancy, peak pressure and contact area decreased for the forefoot and rearfoot. These parameters increased significantly for the midfoot. The gait strategy seemed to be lateralization of gait with an increased contact area of the lateral midfoot and both reduced pressure and a later peak time on the medial forefoot. In the postpartum group, footprint parameters were modified compared with the pregnant group, indicating a trend toward partial return to control values, although differences persisted between the postpartum and control groups.
Conclusions: Pregnant women had altered plantar pressures during gait. These findings could define a specific pattern of gait footprints in late pregnancy because plantar pressures had characteristics that could maintain a stable and safe gait.
Corresponding author: Jeanne Bertuit, PhD, Laboratory for Functional Anatomy, Université Libre de Bruxelles-Faculty of Motor Sciences, Route de Lennick 808, Bruxelles, 1070, Belgium. (E-mail: email@example.com)