Pronation is a normal motion that our feet make as they walk. With each step, the heel touches the ground first, then the foot rolls forward to the toes, causing the ankle to roll inward slightly and the arch to flatten out. That?s normal. But when that rolling inward becomes more pronounced, that?s over-pronation, which is a big problem. You can usually see over-pronation by looking at the back of the leg and foot. The Achilles tendon normally runs straight down from the leg to the foot, hitting the floor at a perpendicular angle. In feet that over-pronate, the Achilles tendon will be at a slight angle to the ground and the ankle bone will appear more prominent than usual.
Abnormal foot biomechanics usually causes over-use type injuries, occurring most frequently in runners. When a neutral foot pronates during walking or running, the lower leg, knee and thigh all rotate internally (medially). When an athlete with an overpronated foot runs, this rotation movement is exaggerated and becomes more marked.
With over pronation, sufferers are most likely to experience pain through the arch of the foot. A lack of stability is also a common complaint. Over pronation also causes the foot to turn outward during movement at the ankle, causing sufferers to walk along the inner portion of the foot. This not only can deliver serious pain through the heel and ankle, but it can also be the cause of pain in the knees or lower back as well. This condition also causes the arch to sink which places stress on the bones, ligaments, and tendons throughout the foot. This may yield other common conditions of foot pain such as plantar fasciitis and heel spurs.
When you overpronate your foot rolls inwards causing the lower leg to rotate inwards too. It’s thought that this increases stress on the soft tissues of the lower leg causing pain and inflammation, or more commonly known as shin splints.
Non Surgical Treatment
Although there is no actual cure for over-pronation it is possible to correct or at least reduce this problem. In order to restore our normal foot function an ‘orthotic’ or orthotic insole device is placed inside the shoes. Orthotics are designed to realign the foot and ankle bones to their natural position. This in turn restores our normal foot function and it helps alleviate not only foot problems but also ailments in other parts of the body i.e. the legs, knees and lower back. In addition to wearing an orthotic, it is recommended to wear supportive shoes, like good quality athletic footwear with a firm heel counter and sufficient flexibility in the forefoot area.
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.