What Is Overpronation

Overview

Pronation is the term used to describe a natural movement of the foot when walking. When the gait is normal, the heel strikes the ground first. As weight is transferred forward, the arch of the foot flattens and the foot rolls slightly inwards. Body weight is then placed on the ball of the foot and toes, and the foot straightens and turns outwards as the toes push off. Overpronation occurs when the foot rolls inward too far. This causes all the muscles and tendons of the lower leg to twist excessively. Regular overpronation is believed to contribute to the development of many knee, lower leg and foot injuries such as heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis and bunions. It is thought that as much as 60% of the population may overpronate.Overpronation

Causes

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.

Symptoms

Eventually, over-pronation can lead to a full list of maladies including flat feet, plantar fasciitis, plantar fibroma, neuromas, heel spurs, shin splints, ankle sprains, bunions, hammertoes, calluses, and pain in the arches, knee, hip and lower back. But it doesn?t have to go that far, because there are steps we can take to correct the over-pronation. In the vast majority of cases, we?ll prescribe custom foot orthotics, which will realign your ankles, redistribute the weight, support the arch and reduce the twisting. Many orthotics will fit snugly into your normal shoes. Although we?ll also take a look at the type of shoes you wear to see if they are contributing to the problem.

Diagnosis

One of the easiest ways to determine if you overpronate is to look at the bottom of your shoes. Overpronation causes disproportionate wear on the inner side of the shoe. Another way to tell if you might overpronate is to have someone look at the back of your legs and feet, while you are standing. The Achilles tendon runs from the calf muscle to the heel bone, and is visible at the back of the ankle. Normally it runs in a straight line down to the heel. An indication of overpronation is if the tendon is angled to the outside of the foot, and the bone on the inner ankle appears to be more prominent than the outer anklebone. There might also be a bulge visible on the inside of the foot when standing normally. A third home diagnostic test is called the ?wet test?. Wet your foot and stand on a surface that will show an imprint, such as construction paper, or a sidewalk. You overpronate if the imprint shows a complete impression of your foot (as opposed to there being a space where your arch did not touch the ground).Overpronation

Non Surgical Treatment

Wear shoes with straight or semicurved lasts. Motion-control or stability shoes with firm, multidensity midsoles and external control features that limit pronation are best. Over-the-counter orthotics or arch supports can help, too. You know you are making improvements when the wear pattern on your shoes becomes more normal. Overpronation causes extra stress and tightness to the muscles, so do a little extra stretching.

Prevention

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.

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