The rolling of the foot is a natural process and the degree to which pronation occurs will depend on an individual?s gait. It has been suggested that up to 70 percent of runners may overpronate to some degree, although it is not always bad for the body even though pronation may not be at optimum levels. Slight overpronation may be perfectly acceptable and may not place an individual at an increased risk of injury; however determining whether this is the case can only come from a doctor, podiatrist or sports therapist. While specialist running shoe stores may be able to spot whether you are an overpronator after observing you on a treadmill and suggest the best running shoes to suit your gait, it is still wise if you are an overpronator to get your gait checked professionally.
A common cause of pronation is heredity - we can inherit this biomechanical defect. The second most common cause is due to the way our feet were positioned in the uterus while we were developing; this is called a congenital defect. In either instance, the following occurs in our feet during our development.
If ignored, overpronation can lead to complications such as hammer toes, corns and calluses, shin splints, hallux rigidus and many more foot and lower leg problems. Hammer toes appear when the toes are placed under too much pressure and the ligaments and muscles in the toes begin to reduce in size, leading to the curvature of the toes and making them look like little hammers. Overpronators can develop hammertoes if they don?t wear an appropriate pair of shoes. Corns and calluses also appear as a result of overpronation. They form in response to excess pressure, and overpronators may find that they have excessive hard skin on the balls of the feet and inside edge of the big toe. It is the body?s way of protecting against excessive forces and friction. They can be painful.
Bunions, calluses and crooked toes may indicate alignment problems. So, it is important to ascertain the condition of a client's toes. Check the big toe to determine if the first joint of the toe is swollen, has a callus or bunion, and/or looks as though it abducts (i.e., hallux valgus) rather than pointing straight ahead. Also, look to see if the lesser toes seem to "curl up" (i.e., the person has hammer or claw toes). This may be indicative of damage to, or inflexibility of the plantar fascia caused by excessive flattening of the foot.
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.