One of the most common causes of foot and leg discomfort is a condition known as overpronation. Normal pronation, or "turning inward" of the foot is necessary as the foot adapts to the ground. With over pronation, the arch flattens, collapses, and soft tissues stretch. This causes the joint surfaces to function at unnatural angles to each other. When this happens, joints that should be stable now become very loose and flexible. At first, over pronation may cause fatigue. As the problem gets worse, strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the foot and lower leg can cause permanent problems and deformities.
There has been some speculation as to whether arch height has an effect on pronation. After conducting a study at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Maggie Boozer suggests that people with higher arches tend to pronate to a greater degree. However, the generally accepted view by professionals is that the most pronation is present in those with lower arch heights. To complicate matters, one study done by Hylton Menz at the University of Western Sydney-Macarthur suggests that the methods for measuring arch height and determining whether someone is ?flat-footed? or ?high-arched? are unreliable. He says, ?For this reason, studies investigating the relationship between static arch height motion of the rearfoot have consistently found that such a classification system is a poor predictor of dynamic rearfoot function.
Symptoms can manifest in many different ways. The associated conditions depend on the individual lifestyle of each patient. Here is a list of some of the conditions associated with Over Pronation. Hallux Abducto Valgus (bunions). Hallux Rigidus (stiff 1st toe). Arch Pain. Heel Pain (plantar fascitis). Metatarsalgia (ball of the foot pain). Ankle sprains. Shin Splints. Achilles Tendonitis. Osteochondrosis. Knee Pain. Corns & Calluses. Flat Feet. Hammer Toes.
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
Mild cases of Overpronation may be controlled or corrected with a supportive shoe that offers medial support to the foot along with a strong heel counter to control excessive motion at the heel starting with heel strike. In mild cases with no abnormal mechanical pressures, an over the counter orthotic with heel cup and longitudinal or medial arch support to keep the foot from progressing past neutral may help to realign the foot. A Custom foot orthotic with heel cup and longitudinal arch support to help correct position of the foot as it moves through motion. Heel wedges may also assist in correcting motion.
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.