Pronation is a turning outward of the foot at the ankle, so that one has a tendency to walk on the inner border of the foot. (Pronation is the opposite of supination). When a foot and ankle pronates to a great degree, we call it over-pronation. During the normal gait cycle, we all pronate and then rapidly recover. It is over-pronation that patients are concerned with. This is a static deformity associated with flat feet and sometimes with foot and arch pain.
Acquired "Flat Feet" this develops over a period of time rather than at birth (unlike Congenital "Flat Feet"). In children, many different factors may contribute to the development of this condition such as the type of shoes that a child wears, a child's sitting or sleeping positions or it may occur as some type of compensation for other abnormalities located further up the leg. Compensation may occur due to the rupture (tearing) of ligaments or tendons in the foot. One common reason for this condition is that the foot is compensating for a tight Achilles Tendon. If this tendon is tight it may cause the foot to point downward away from the body. This gives the body the perception that the affected leg is longer in length and the body attempts to compensate for the perceived additional length by flattening out the foot arch in an attempt to provide balance and stability.
If ignored, overpronation can lead to complications such as hammer toes, corns and calluses, shin splints, hallux rigidus and many more foot and lower leg problems. Hammer toes appear when the toes are placed under too much pressure and the ligaments and muscles in the toes begin to reduce in size, leading to the curvature of the toes and making them look like little hammers. Overpronators can develop hammertoes if they don?t wear an appropriate pair of shoes. Corns and calluses also appear as a result of overpronation. They form in response to excess pressure, and overpronators may find that they have excessive hard skin on the balls of the feet and inside edge of the big toe. It is the body?s way of protecting against excessive forces and friction. They can be painful.
If you cannot afford to get a proper gait analysis completed, having someone observe you on a treadmill from behind will give you an idea if you are an overpronator. It is possible to tell without observing directly whether you are likely to be an overpronator by looking at your foot arches. Check your foot arch height by standing in water and then on a wet floor or piece of paper which will show your footprint. If your footprints show little to no narrowing in the middle, then you have flat feet or fallen arches. This makes it highly likely that you will overpronate to some degree when running. If you have low or fallen arches, you should get your gait checked to see how much you overpronate, and whether you need to take steps to reduce the level to which you overpronate. Another good test is to have a look at the wear pattern on an old pair of trainers. Overpronators will wear out the outside of the heel and the inside of the toe more quickly than other parts of the shoe. If the wear is quite even, you are likely to have a neutral running gait. Wear primarily down the outside edge means that you are a supinator. When you replace your running shoes you may benefit from shoes for overpronation. Motion control or stability running shoes are usually the best bet to deal with overpronation.
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.
Exercises to strengthen and stretch supporting muscles will help to keep the bones in proper alignment. Duck stance: Stand with your heels together and feet turned out. Tighten the buttock muscles, slightly tilt your pelvis forwards and try to rotate your legs outwards. You should feel your arches rising while you do this exercise. Calf stretch: Stand facing a wall and place hands on it for support. Lean forwards until stretch is felt in the calves. Hold for 30 seconds. Bend at knees and hold for a further 30 seconds. Repeat 5 times. Golf ball: While drawing your toes upwards towards your shins, roll a golf ball under the foot between 30 and 60 seconds. If you find a painful point, keep rolling the ball on that spot for 10 seconds. Big toe push:
Stand with your ankles in a neutral position (without rolling the foot inwards). Push down with your big toe but do not let the ankle roll inwards or the arch collapse. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Build up to longer times and fewer repetitions. Ankle strengthener: Place a ball between your foot and a wall. Sitting down and keeping your toes pointed upwards, press the outside of the foot against the ball, as though pushing it into the wall. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times. Arch strengthener: Stand on one foot on the floor. The movements needed to remain balanced will strengthen the arch. When you are able to balance for 30 seconds, start doing this exercise using a wobble board.