To understand "overpronation" it's important to first understand pronation. Pronation is a normal function of the foot. It is the inward motion of the ankle bone and outward motion of the rest of the foot bones, which occurs naturally when the foot hits the ground and weight is applied. Pronation is a good thing; it cushions the foot and the entire body during the walking cycle. It keeps the foot and ankles protected from hard impact and an uneven ground surface. Overpronation occurs when too much pronation is present. In other words, overpronation occurs when the inward motion of the ankle bone is excessive and goes past the healthy point necessary for its intended functions. This excessive motion is caused by a misalignment between the ankle bone and the hindfoot bones. It creates an imbalance of forces and weight distribution in the foot that propagates throughout the entire body. Over time, this functional imbalance causes repetitive damage to joints, ligaments and bone structures. Left untreated, overpronation can lead to foot ailments such as bunions, heel pain (plantar faciitis), hammertoes, etc. Furthermore, the excessive motion in the foot can travel up the body and cause knee, hip and lower back pain.
Generally fallen arches are a condition inherited from one or both parents. In addition, age, obesity, and pregnancy cause our arches to collapse. Being in a job that requires long hours of standing and/or walking (e.g. teaching, retail, hospitality, building etc) contributes to this condition, especially when standing on hard surfaces like concrete floors. Last, but not least unsupportive footwear makes our feet roll in more than they should.
Common conditions seen with overpronation include heel pain or plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonopathy, hallus valgus and or bunions, patellofemoral pain syndrome, Iliotibial band pain syndrome, low back pain, shin splints, stress fractures in the foot or lower leg.
At some point you may find the pain to much or become frustrated. So what are you options? Chances are your overpronation has led to some type of injury if there's pain. Your best bet is to consult with someone who knows feet. Start with your pediatrist, chiropodist or chiropractor. They'll be able to diagnose and treat the injury and give you more specific direction to better support your feet. One common intervention is a custom foot orthotic. Giving greater structural support than a typical shoe these shoe inserts can dramatically reduce overpronation.
Non Surgical Treatment
If pronation is diagnosed before the age of five it can usually be treated in such a manner that the bones and joints will be aligned properly as growth continues. This may prevent the arch from collapsing, as well as allowing the muscles of the leg to enter the foot without twisting. With proper and early treatment, the foot will not turn out at the ankle, and the child?s gait will improve. Treatment for pronation in children may include: night braces, custom-made orthotics, and exercises. These treatments usually continue until growth is complete, and then the adult may need to wear custom-made orthotics to prevent the pronation from returning (the foot, as every other part of our body, tends to return to its original form if preventive measures are not taken). One side note: frequently, pediatricians will wait too long, hoping that the child will ?outgrow? the problem. By the time they realize that the child?s feet will not improve, it is too late to change the foot. In these cases, custom-made orthotics is used to prevent the pronation from becoming worse.
Massage and stretch the calves to increase dorsiflexion at the foot/ankle. Dorsiflexion is the bending at the ankle. By improving the dorsiflexion, one will have more flexibility at the ankle, which will allow the foot to over-pronate less. Massage the IT Band with a foam roller or tennis ball to quiet down the tightness throughout this part of the leg. The IT Band attaches from the glute maximus and runs down the side of the leg into the knee area. When the IT Band is tight it will accelerate the force of the leg moving inward, which will cause the foot to move inward as well. It is often that tightness through the IT Band that promotes over-pronation. 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.