Pronation describes a slight inward rolling motion the foot makes during a normal walking or running stride. The foot (and ankle) roles slightly inward to accommodate movement. Some people, however, over-pronate and roll more than normal. With over-pronation, the arch of the foot flattens and causes excessive stress and pressure on the soft tissues of the foot. Over-pronation is more common in those with flat feet, and can lead to foot aches and pain, such as plantar fasciitis, Shin Splints and Knee Pain.
Generally fallen arches are a condition inherited from one or both parents. In addition, age, obesity, and pregnancy cause our arches to collapse. Being in a job that requires long hours of standing and/or walking (e.g. teaching, retail, hospitality, building etc) contributes to this condition, especially when standing on hard surfaces like concrete floors. Last, but not least unsupportive footwear makes our feet roll in more than they should.
Overpronation causes alterations in proper muscle recruitment patterns leading to tightness in the outside of the ankle (lateral gastrocnemius, soleus, and peroneals). This tightness can lead to weakness in the opposing muscles such as the medial gastrocnemius, anterior tibialis, and posterior tibialis. If these muscles are weak, they will not be able to keep the knee in proper alignment, causing the valgus position. All this tightness and weakness can cause pain within the ankle, calf, and knee region. And it can send imbalance and pain all the way up to the upper back, if deep core strength is lacking and can’t hold the pelvis in neutral.
At some point you may find the pain to much or become frustrated. So what are you options? Chances are your overpronation has led to some type of injury if there’s pain. Your best bet is to consult with someone who knows feet. Start with your pediatrist, chiropodist or chiropractor. They’ll be able to diagnose and treat the injury and give you more specific direction to better support your feet. One common intervention is a custom foot orthotic. Giving greater structural support than a typical shoe these shoe inserts can dramatically reduce overpronation.
Non Surgical Treatment
Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to cure and correct your overpronation issues. Certain exercises help. Pull your toes back using a rolled up towel. Roll your feet over a golf or tennis ball for a minute. And do calf raises by standing up and lifting up on your toes. These all help reposition the foot and strengthen the muscles and tendons necessary for proper support. Beyond that, simple adjustments to footwear will help immensely.
Calcaneal “Slide” (Sliding Calcaneal Osteotomy) A wedge is cut into the heel bone (calcaneus) and a fixation device (screws, plate) is used to hold the bone in its new position. This is an aggressive option with a prolonged period of non-weightbearing, long recovery times and many potential complications. However, it can and has provided for successful patient outcomes.