Often misunderstood, pronation is considered by many to be a negative attribute; pronation is actually a good thing in the correct amount. Pronation is the body’s response to the ground forces incurred during running and walking. When the foot impacts the ground, the arch elongates and flattens, which allows the foot to roll inward. This action helps the body to absorb shock. The degree to which the arch flattens is often associated with the degree the foot pronates. An ideal foot-strike is said to be neutral and is characterized by slight inward movement of the ankle-bone during stance (when the foot is in contact with the ground). Most runners for example exhibit over-pronation in varying degrees. 50-60% of runners exhibit mild to moderate over-pronation and are best suited for support orthotics. 20-30% of runners exhibit severe over-pronation and are best suited for motion control shoes.
It is important to identify the cause of overpronation in order to determine the best treatment methods to adopt. Not all treatments and preventative measures will work equally well for everyone, and there may be a little trial and error involved to get the best treatment. A trip to a podiatrist or a sports therapist will help you to establish the cause of overpronation, and they will be able to tell you the best treatments based on your specific degree of overpronation and the cause. Overpronation has many causes, with the most common reasons for excessive pronation listed, low arches, flexible flat feet, fallen arches, gait abnormalities, abnormal bone structure, abnormal musculature, bunions, corns and calluses.
People with overpronation may suffer from pain in the knees, hips, and low back. Overpronation itself does not necessarily cause any other symptoms but is a contributing factor of many foot conditions such as Plantar Facsiitis, Heel Spur Syndrome, Posterior Tibialis Tendon Rupture or Tendonitis, Hallux Valgus, Bunion Deformities, Metatarsalgia, Hallux Limitus or Hallux Rigidus, Hammer Toes, and Morton?s Neuroma.
Firstly, look at your feet in standing, have you got a clear arch on the inside of the foot? If there is not an arch and the innermost part of the sole touches the floor, then your feet are over-pronated. Secondly, look at your running shoes. If they are worn on the inside of the sole in particular, then pronation may be a problem for you. Thirdly, try the wet foot test. Wet your feet and walk along a section of paving and look at the footprints you leave. A normal foot will leave a print of the heel, connected to the forefoot by a strip approximately half the width of the foot on the outside of the sole. If you?re feet are pronated there may be little distinction between the rear and forefoot, shown opposite. The best way to determine if you over pronate is to visit a podiatrist or similar who can do a full gait analysis on a treadmill or using forceplates measuring exactly the forces and angles of the foot whilst running. It is not only the amount of over pronation which is important but the timing of it during the gait cycle as well that needs to be assessed.
Non Surgical Treatment
Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to cure and correct your overpronation issues. Certain exercises help. Pull your toes back using a rolled up towel. Roll your feet over a golf or tennis ball for a minute. And do calf raises by standing up and lifting up on your toes. These all help reposition the foot and strengthen the muscles and tendons necessary for proper support. Beyond that, simple adjustments to footwear will help immensely.
With every step we take, we place at least half of our body weight on each foot (as we walk faster, or run, we can exert more than twice our body weight on each foot). As this amount of weight is applied to each foot there is a significant shock passed on to our body. Custom-made orthotics will absorb some of this shock, helping to protect our feet, ankles, knees, hips, and lower back.