Pronation and Over-Pronation
Pronation refers to the foot’s natural way of moving from side to side when a person walks or runs. It occurs as the weight is transferred from the heel to the ball of the foot as a person goes through their walking gait or running stride and specifically refers to the amount that the foot rolls inward toward the arch. Although some pronation is normal, over-pronation can cause various injuries.
Over-pronation is generally caused by either flat or very flexible feet, which people are often born with. However, there are also conditions and situations that can increase a person’s chances of developing flat feet or weakened arches, which can lead to over-pronation. These conditions and situations include (FootSmart):
- being pregnant
- being overweight or obese
- taking part in any activity, such as running, that involves repeatedly striking the foot on a hard surface for an extended period
Over-pronation puts people at an increased risk of developing specific injuries. This is because it disrupts the body’s natural alignment and causes increased impact when the foot strikes the ground. Injuries that frequently occur in people with over-pronation include: (HealthLine)
- shin splints
- heel pain
- plantar fasciitis
- stresses, fatigue and injuries to the knee
- chronic lower back pain
- stress fractures in the foot or lower leg
- patellofemoral pain syndrome
- Achilles tendonitis
Visiting a podiatrist, chiropractor or pedorthist can validate your condition of over-pronation, however many people can self-assess by using one of the following methods:
- Look at your feet while standing. If there is no clear space between the foot and the floor where the arch should be, you likely over-pronate.
- Check the wear pattern of your shoes. If the majority of the wear is on the inner part of the shoes, you are likely a person with over-pronation.
- Analyze your footprint after taking a few steps with bare, wet feet. A person with normal pronation will see their heel print connected to the toe prints with about half of their foot width. A person who over-pronates will see their heel print connected with the full width of their foot.
Once diagnosed, you should see a specialist for if you are experiencing pain or a chronic injury, especially if you have tried to self-correct the problem in the past. A specialist can recommend treatment options that may help solve the problem. There are numerous treatment options available for over-pronation, however the main ones often prescribed are: (Active.com)
1. Choosing Supportive Shoes - A person with over-pronation should take extra care when selecting shoes, particularly when picking shoes for any activity that involves repeated foot strikes, such as running or walking. Anyone with over-pronation should look for shoes that offer extra support and stability so that the shoes minimize the impact of each step (Podiatry Today). (https://www.podiatrytoday.com/article/5664A) person with over-pronation looking for supportive shoes may want to do the following when selecting shoes:
- have both feet measured
- shop at the end of the day and end of the week when feet are a little puffy
- wear thin socks when shopping
- look for shoes that offer extra arch support
- A running store that offers some form of walking-style analysis, a podiatrist or pedorthist can recommend good shoes.
3. Exercises for Over-Pronation – Exercises that strengthen the arches and muscles around them can help to not only relieve the ailments caused by over-pronation but can often be used as a preventative measure. These exercises can help support the arches of their feet and the muscles that help support the arches: (Pain Resource)
- First position demi plié: Think of a ballet dancer for this exercise. With turnout from the hips, so the feet angle outward and the heels are together, bend your knees while keeping the heels on the floor.
- Rolling the feet: While standing with feet hip-width apart, roll your weight to the outside of the feet and then back to normal position repeatedly.
- Seated calf stretch: Tight calf muscles can put too much stress on the Achilles tendons, worsening flat feet. Stretch calf muscles by sitting with your legs extended in front of you with feet flexed. Then hinge forward at the waist and reach for your toes.
Some people cannot prevent over-pronation but can reduce its effect through the use of orthotics and proper footwear as detailed above. You can also help reduce their risk of an injury related to over-pronation by doing the recommended exercises and maintaining a healthy weight.