Over-pronation describes a characteristic gait wherein a lack of sufficient support from the arch of the foot causes it to roll inwards as weight is placed on it. The long arch of the foot is actually a very important structure in terms of our gait and how we walk, it is responsible for ensuring that as our weight rolls from the heel to the balls of our feet it does so in a straight line that doesn?t place undue stress on the ankle or knees. Unfortunately when a person?s arch is not pronounced enough, or even simply not there (a condition called flat footedness), there isn?t enough arch support to maintain a healthy, forward motion of the foot.
Overpronation often occurs in people with flat feet, whose plantar fascia ligament is too flexible or too long, and therefore unable to properly support the longitudinal arch of the foot. People tend to inherit the foot structure that leads to overpronation. In a normal foot the bones are arranged so that two arches are formed, the longitudinal and the transverse. Ligaments hold all the bones in their correct positions, and tendons attach muscles to bones. If the bones are held together too loosely, they will tend to move inwards as this is the easiest direction for them to go. Over time the soft tissue structures will adjust to the misalignment and the foot will become permanently over-flexible, with a flat arch.
It is important to note that pronation is not wrong or bad for you. In fact, our feet need to pronate and supinate to achieve proper gait. Pronation (rolling inwards) absorbs shock and supination (rolling outwards) propels our feet forward. It is our body?s natural shock-absorbing mechanism. The problem is over-pronation i.e. the pronation movement goes too deep and lasts for too long, which hinders the foot from recovering and supinating. With every step, excess pronation impedes your natural walking pattern, causing an imbalance in the body and consequent excessive wear and tear in joints, muscles and ligaments. Some common complaints associated with over-pronation include Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis) ,Ball of foot pain, Achilles Tendonitis, Shin splints, Knee Pain, Lower Back Pain.
When sitting, an over-pronating foot appears quite normal, i.e. showing a normal arch with room under the underside of the foot. The moment you get up and put weight on your feet the situation changes: the arches lower and the ankle slightly turns inwards. When you walk or run more weight is placed on the feet compared to standing and over-pronation will become more evident. When walking barefoot on tiles or timber floors over-pronation is more visible, compared to walking on carpet or grass.
Non Surgical Treatment
If a young child is diagnosed with overpronation braces and custom orthotics can be, conjunction with strengthening and stretching exercises, to realign the bones of the foot. These treatments may have to continue until the child has stopped growing, and orthotics may need to be worn for life in order to prevent the foot reverting to an overpronated state. Wearing shoes that properly support the foot, particularly the arch, is one of the most effective treatments for overpronation. Custom-made orthotic inserts can also be very beneficial. They too support the arch and distribute body weight correctly throughout the foot. Motion-control shoes that prohibit pronation can be worn, so may be useful for those with severe overpronation. One good treatment is to walk barefoot as often as possible. Not relying on shoes to support the arch will encourage proper muscle use. Practicing yoga can help to correct poor posture and teach you how to stand with your weight balanced evenly across the whole foot.
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.