You know when we walk in the sand on the beach? Well, that?s how nature meant us to walk! You will notice how the sand forms a complete support under the foot. Unfortunately, instead of soft natural surfaces, we walk mainly on hard surfaces like pavements and floors. These hard surfaces cause the foot to roll inwards and the arches to flatten to gain ground contact. This condition is called ?over-pronation? and it affects an estimated 70% of the population. Over-pronation can lead to various foot problems such as heel pain and ball of foot pain. Because our feet are the foundation of our body, poorly aligned feet may also cause problems in other parts of the body, resulting in shin pain, aching legs, knee pain, even lower back pain.
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.
Because overpronation affects the entire lower leg, many injuries and conditions may develop and eventually cause problems not only in the leg and foot, but also the knee, hips and lower back. Pain often begins in the arch of the foot or the ankle. Blisters may develop on the instep, or on the inside edge of the heels. As overpronation continues and problems develop, pain will be felt elsewhere, depending on the injury.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and activities and examine your feet. Your provider may watch you walk or run. Check the motion of your feet when they strike the ground. Look at your athletic shoes to see if they show an abnormal pattern of wear.
Non Surgical Treatment
One of the best forms of treatment for over pronation is wearing supportive shoes. Shoes should have ample support and cushioning, particularly through the heel and arch of the foot. Without proper shoes, there may be additional strain on the tissue in the foot, greatly contributing to or causing an occurrence of over pronation. Rarely is surgery considered to relieve the pain and damage that may have resulted from this condition. Orthotic shoe inserts are often the easiest and most effective way to correct pronation.
Many of the prevention methods for overpronation-orthotics, for example-can be used interchangeably with treatment methods. If the overpronation is severe, you should seek medical attention from a podiatrist who can cast you for custom-made orthotics. Custom-made orthotics are more expensive, but they last longer and provide support, stability, and balance for the entire foot. You can also talk with a shoe specialist about running shoes that offer extra medial support and firm heel counters. Proper shoes can improve symptoms quickly and prevent them from recurring. Surgery can sometimes help cure and prevent this problem if you suffer from inherited or acquired pes planus deformity. Surgery typically involves stabilizing the bones to improve the foot?s support and function.