Pronation is the normal movement the foot makes to absorb the impact from walking or running. It occurs once the heel strikes the ground and the foot disperses the impact, stretching and flattening the arch as the foot rolls inward. Supination is the opposite motion of pronation. The foot supinates, or rolls on its outer edge, to help with stability as we walk or run. A reasonable amount of pronation is necessary for the foot to function properly. However, when the foot arch remains flat and the foot rolls inward too much one may have excessive pronation or overpronation. This medical condition can result from continually straining the feet and wearing footwear that lacks sufficient foot arch support.
In adults, the most common reason for the onset of Over-Pronation is a condition known as Post Tibial Tendonitis. This condition develops from repetitive stress on the main supporting tendon (Posterior Tibial Tendon) of the foot arch. As the body ages, ligaments and muscles can weaken. When this occurs the job of providing the majority of the support required by the foot arch is placed upon this tendon. Unfortunately, this tendon cannot bear the weight of this burden for too long. Eventually it fatigues under the added strain and in doing so the foot arch becomes progressively lower over a period of time.
Because pronation is a twisting of the foot, all of the muscles and tendons which run from the leg and ankle into the foot will be twisted. In over-pronation, resulting laxity of the soft tissue structures of the foot and loosened joints cause the bones of the feet shift. When this occurs, the muscles which 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. Injuries due to poor biomechanics and twisting of these muscles due to over-pronation include: 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). Foot problems due to over-pronation include: bunions, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, fallen and painful arches, hammer toes, and calluses.
A quick way to see if you over-pronate is to look for these signs. While standing straight with bare feet on the floor, look so see if the inside of your arch or sole touches the floor. Take a look at your hiking or running shoes; look for wear on the inside of the sole. Wet your feet and walk on a surface that will show the foot mark. If you have a neutral foot you should see your heel connected to the ball of your foot by a mark roughly half of width of your sole. If you over-pronate you will see greater than half and up to the full width of your sole.
Non Surgical Treatment
Side Step with Opposite Reach. This exercise is designed to load the “bungee cord system” of the gluteal muscle and its opposite, latissimus dorsi muscle to keep the foot from overpronating. Because the opposite arm swings across the front leg when walking, this exercise creates tension in the muscles all the way from the front foot, across the back of the hips and back, to the fingers of the opposite hand. Movement Directions. Stand with left foot on top of the dome of the BT. (Note: For added balance, the right foot can tap on the ground, if needed). Reach right leg out to the side of the BT, and tap the ground while squatting down on the left side and reaching right arm across the left knee. Push down with left big toe while squatting. This activates the arch of the left foot and strengthens all the stabilizing muscles on the left side of the lower body. Return to starting position. Perform 8 to 10 repetitions on each leg.
Pronation forces us to bear most of our weight on the inner border of our feet. Custom-made orthotics gently redistributes the weight so that the entire foot bears its normal share of weight with each step we take. The foot will not twist out at the ankle, but will strike the ground normally when the orthotics is used. This action of the custom-made orthotics will help to prevent shin splints, ankle sprains, knee and hip pain, lower back pain, nerve entrapments, tendonitis, muscle aches, bunions, generalized fatigue, hammer toes, and calluses.