Overpronating is a term that is thrown around loosely, whether it be a clinician?s office (PT, Ortho Doc, Podiatrist), in print publication, online, or at your local shoe shop.Being classified as an overpronator is fairly subjective. There?s no criteria to classify you as a runner who overpronates. Pronation is completely normal. Pronation allows your foot to unlock and distribute force up the chain (leg). Pronation that fails to occur, whether it be due to an orthotic, bony structure (high arch), or motion control shoe, may actually increase ground reaction forces (impact). It should make sense, too. Blocking your foot from pronating disengages the first anatomical system for absorbing impact forces. ?Over? insinuates that you pronate too much, but who gets to determine what?s considered normal? We have values that are deemed ?normal,? but varying foot structures complicate the situation. Varying degrees of high, neutral, and low arches all affect this ?normal? pronation number. ?Normal? pronation numbers will simply be out of reach for rigid arches, while flexible feet with surpass the numbers. To dilute the situation further, your strength, habits, and flexibility can all influence how much you pronate.
During our development, the muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissue structures that hold our bones together at the joints become looser than normal. When the bones are not held tightly in place, the joints are not aligned properly, and the foot gradually turns outward at the ankle, causing the inner ankle bone to appear more prominent. The foot moves in this direction because it is the path of least resistance. It is more difficult for the foot to move in the opposite direction (this is called supination). As we develop, the muscles and ligaments accommodate to this abnormal alignment. By the time growth is complete, the pronated foot is: abnormally flexible, flat, and its outer border appears raised so that as you step down you do not come down equally across the entire foot; instead, you come down mostly on the inner border of the foot. Normal aging will produce further laxity of our muscles that causes the pronation to become gradually worse.
Symptoms can manifest in many different ways. Here is a list of some of the common conditions associated with over-pronation in children. Achilles Pain. Ankle pain. Arch Pain. Low back pain. Heel Pain. Knee Pain (Runner’s knee and Chondromalecia of the patella) Osgood Schlatter Disease (pain below the knee) Shin Splints (pain in the front of the lower leg) Over-pronation does not necessarily mean your child has “flat feet.” Even though children’s arches may be relatively high when they lie down or sit, over-pronation may not be seen until your child is standing. A certain amount of pronation is normal. During normal walking or running (“gait cycle”), the heel strikes the ground and the foot rolls inward to absorb shock and adapt to the surface. This gait cycle is even more important if the running surface is uneven.
The best way to discover whether you have a normal gait, or if you overpronate, is to visit a specialty run shop, an exercise physiologist, a podiatrist or a physical therapist who specializes in working with athletes. A professional can analyze your gait, by watching you either walk or run, preferably on a treadmill. Some facilities can videotape your gait, then analyze the movement of your feet in slow-motion. Another (and less costly) way is to look at the bottom of an older pair of run shoes. Check the wear pattern. A person with a normal gait will generally see wear evenly across the heel and front of the shoe. A person who overpronates will likely see more wear on the OUTside of the heel and more wear on the INside of the forefoot (at the ball). A person who supinates will see wear all along the outer edges of the shoe. You can also learn about your gait by looking at your arches. Look at the shape your wet feet leave on a piece of paper or a flat walking surface.
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.
Strengthen the glutes to slow down the force of the foot moving too far inward. Most individuals who over-pronate have weak glute muscles and strengthening this area is a must. A simple exercise to strengthen glutes is lateral tube walking across a field/court/room. Place a lateral stretch band around your ankles and move your leg sideways while keeping your feet forward.