Pronation is the natural motion of the foot as it roles inward after the foot makes contact with the ground. It gives the foot the opportunity to act as a shock absorber for the body and adapt to the contour of the ground. Too much pronation will cause the arch of the foot to flatten excessively placing stress and pressure on tissues and ligaments of the foot. Over pronation can lead to numerous foot problems including plantar fasciitis, ankle pain, shin pain, knee pain, bunions, mortons neuroma, chondromalcia patallae and lower back pain.
There are many causes of flat feet. Obesity, pregnancy or repetitive pounding on a hard surface can weaken the arch leading to over-pronation. Often people with flat feet do not experience discomfort immediately, and some never suffer from any discomfort at all. However, when symptoms develop and become painful, walking becomes awkward and causes increased strain on the feet and calves.
Because pronation is a twisting of the foot, all of the muscles and tendons which run from the leg and ankle into the foot will be twisted. In over-pronation, resulting laxity of the soft tissue structures of the foot and loosened joints cause the bones of the feet shift. When this occurs, the muscles which attach to these bones must also shift, or twist, in order to attach to these bones. The strongest and most important muscles that attach to our foot bones come from our lower leg. So, as these muscles course down the leg and across the ankle, they must twist to maintain their proper attachments in the foot. Injuries due to poor biomechanics and twisting of these muscles due to over-pronation include: shin splints, Achilles Tendonitis, generalized tendonitis, fatigue, muscle aches and pains, cramps, ankle sprains, and loss of muscular efficiency (reducing walking and running speed and endurance). Foot problems due to over-pronation include: bunions, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, fallen and painful arches, hammer toes, and calluses.
You can test for pronation by looking at the leg and foot from the back. Normally you can see the Achilles Tendon run straight down the leg into the heel. If the foot is pronated, the tendon will run straight down the leg, but when it lies on the heel it will twist outward. This makes the inner ankle bone much more prominent than the outer ankle bone.
Non Surgical Treatment
The following exercises help retrain the foot and ankle complex to correct overpronation. Step Up and Over. This exercise is designed to integrate skills learned in the Duck Stand, Big Toe Pushdowns and Side Step with Opposite Reach exercises to mimic walking and even running. Using the gluteal muscles and big toe in tandem will prevent overpronation while moving back and forth over the BT in a more effective, balanced motion. Movement Directions. Stand with left foot on top of the BT dome. (Note: For added balance, the right foot can tap on the ground, if needed). Extend right foot backwards to the ground and drop hips into a lunge position. Make sure that the right arm rotates across the left leg (this will activate the gluteal muscles on the left side). Now, step through and over the BT into a front lunge with the right leg forward. While lunging forward, the torso and left arm now rotate over the right leg. Throughout the exercise, push big toe down into the BT. Perform 8 to 10 repetitions on both sides.
Custom-made orthotics supports not only the arch as a whole, but also each individual bone and joint that forms the arch. It is not enough to use an over-the-counter arch support, as these generic devices will not provide the proper support to each specific structure of the arch and foot. Each pronated foot?s arch collapses differently and to different degrees. The only way to provide the support that you may need is with a custom-made device. This action of the custom-made orthotic will help to prevent heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, calluses, arch pain, and weakness of the entire foot.