One of the main postural deviations that cause pain and injury in the foot and ankle area (and resultant compensations in the rest of the body) is overpronation. Pronation is a normal function that occurs when the foot rolls inward toward the midline of the body. This movement causes the heel to collapse inward and the medial arch of the foot to elongate and flatten. Overpronation, however, is when the foot collapses too far inward for normal function. Consequently, this directly affects the ability of the foot to perform and can disrupt proper functioning through the entire body.
Over-pronation is very prominent in people who have flexible, flat feet. The framework of the foot begins to collapse, causing the foot to flatten and adding additional stress to other parts of the foot. Therefore over-pronation can often lead to a case of Plantar Fasciitis, Heel Spurs, Metatarsalgia, Post-tib Tendonitis and/or Bunions. There are many causes of flat feet. Obesity, pregnancy or repetitive pounding on a hard surface can weaken the arch leading to over-pronation. People with flat feet often do not experience discomfort immediately, and some never suffer from any discomfort at all. However, when symptoms develop and become painful, walking becomes awkward and causes increased strain on the feet and calves.
If you overpronate, your symptoms may include discomfort in the arch and sole of foot, your foot may appear to turn outward at the ankle, your shoes wear down faster on the medial (inner) side of your shoes. Pain in ankle, shins, knees, or hips, especially when walking or running are classic symptoms of overpronation. Overpronation can lead to additional problems with your feet, ankles, and knees. Runners in particular find that overpronation can lead to shin splints, tarsal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, compartment syndrome, achilles tendonitis, bunions or hallux valgus, patello-femoral pain syndrome, heel spurs, metatarsalgia.
The best way to discover whether you have a normal gait, or if you overpronate, is to visit a specialty run shop, an exercise physiologist, a podiatrist or a physical therapist who specializes in working with athletes. A professional can analyze your gait, by watching you either walk or run, preferably on a treadmill. Some facilities can videotape your gait, then analyze the movement of your feet in slow-motion. Another (and less costly) way is to look at the bottom of an older pair of run shoes. Check the wear pattern. A person with a normal gait will generally see wear evenly across the heel and front of the shoe. A person who overpronates will likely see more wear on the OUTside of the heel and more wear on the INside of the forefoot (at the ball). A person who supinates will see wear all along the outer edges of the shoe. You can also learn about your gait by looking at your arches. Look at the shape your wet feet leave on a piece of paper or a flat walking surface.
Non Surgical Treatment
Overpronation is a condition in which the foot rolls excessively down and inward. The arch may elongate and collapse (or ?fall?) and the heel will lean inward. Overpronation should not be confused with pronation. Pronation is a normal motion of the foot during weight bearing and allows the foot to absorb shock as it contacts the ground.
Firstly, a thorough and correct warm up will help to prepare the muscles and tendons for any activity or sport. Without a proper warm up the muscles and tendons around your feet, ankles and lower legs will be tight and stiff. There will be limited blood flow to the lower legs, which will result in a lack of oxygen and nutrients for those muscles. Click here for a detailed explanation of how, why and when to perform your warm up. Secondly, flexible muscles are extremely important in the prevention of most ankle and lower leg injuries. When muscles and tendons are flexible and supple, they are able to move and perform without being over stretched. If however, your muscles and tendons are tight and stiff, it is quite easy for those muscles and tendons to be pushed beyond their natural range of motion. To keep your muscles and tendons flexible and supple, it is important to undertake a structured stretching routine.