It is estimated that around 80% of the population suffer from excessive pronation. This condition is common in all types of people from children to the elderly and from top athletes to people with a sedentary lifestyle. The feet become misaligned and combined with poor posture roll inwards to gain ground contact, the arches become flattened producing the condition known as excessive pronation. When the feet are excessively pronated a combination of poor posture and diminished shock absorption results in some areas of the feet being subjected to excessive stress and pressure. This can lead to various conditions including knee and back problems, as well as foot problems and deformities.
Over-pronation occurs when the foot collapses too far inward stressing the plantar fascia (the area underneath the arch of the foot.) Normally, one pronates every time he or she walks, but excessive pronation is called over-pronation. When this occurs it can cause pain in the feet, knees, hips, low back and even the shoulder. Decreasing over-pronation, which is very prominent in runners, will help add endurance, speed and efficiency to your run and ultimately place less stress on your body.
Due to the laxity of the soft tissue structures of the foot, and the fact that the joints are not held together properly, the bones of the feet shift. When this occurs, the muscles that attach to these bones must also shift, or twist, in order to attach to these bones. The strongest and most important muscles that attach to our foot bones come from our lower leg. So, as these muscles course down the leg and across the ankle, they must twist to maintain their proper attachments in the foot. This twisting of these muscles will cause shin splints, Achilles Tendonitis, generalized tendonitis, fatigue, muscle aches and pains, cramps, ankle sprains, and loss of muscular efficiency (reducing walking and running speed and endurance). The problems we see in the feet, which are due to over-pronation include bunions, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, fallen and painful arches, hammertoes, metatarsalgia (ball of foot pain), and calluses.
To easily get an idea of whether a person overpronates, look at the position and condition of certain structures in the feet and ankles when he/she stands still. When performing weight-bearing activities like walking or running, muscles and other soft tissue structures work to control gravity’s effect and ground reaction forces to the joints. If the muscles of the leg, pelvis, and feet are working correctly, then the joints in these areas such as the knees, hips, and ankles will experience less stress. However, if the muscles and other soft tissues are not working efficiently, then structural changes and clues in the feet are visible and indicate habitual overpronation.
Non Surgical Treatment
When you see the doctor, he or she will likely perform a complete examination of your feet and watch you walk. The doctor will need to take x-rays to determine the cause of your flat feet. In some cases, further imaging may be needed, especially if your symptoms are severe and sudden in nature. Once you are properly diagnosed, your doctor will create an appropriate treatment plan. There are several options to correct overpronation, such as orthotics. In many cases, overpronation can be treated with non-surgical methods and over-the-counter orthotics. In severe cases, however, custom-made orthotics may work better. Orthotics provide arch support and therefore prevent collapse of the arch with weight bearing. They are made of materials such as spongy rubber or hard plastic. Your doctor will also want to examine your footwear to ensure they fit properly and offer enough medial support. Extra support and stability can be achieved with footwear that has a firm heel counter. If you are experiencing pain, you should be able to use over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen to relieve symptoms.
Many of the prevention methods for overpronation orthotics, for example, can be used interchangeably with treatment methods. If the overpronation is severe, you should seek medical attention from a podiatrist who can cast you for custom-made orthotics. Custom-made orthotics are more expensive, but they last longer and provide support, stability, and balance for the entire foot. You can also talk with a shoe specialist about running shoes that offer extra medial support and firm heel counters. Proper shoes can improve symptoms quickly and prevent them from recurring. Surgery can sometimes help cure and prevent this problem if you suffer from inherited or acquired pes planus deformity. Surgery typically involves stabilizing the bones to improve the foot?s support and function.