To better understand how the muscles and tissue structures in the feet, ankles, legs and hips are adversely affected by overpronation, imagine a person on the end of a bungee cord jumping off a bridge. If the bungee cord gets the right amount of tension on it as the person nears the ground, then he or she will be saved from smashing into the earth. However, if the bungee cord does not pull tight because it is twisted or has no elasticity, then the person will impact the ground with dire consequences. The muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia of the legs and feet are the body’s bungee cords. If these bungee cords work together, they can protect the joints of the feet and ankles from excessive stress, and prevent muscle and tissue damage caused by overpronation. If they do not work properly, a person will be able to see evidence of this in the feet and ankles, particularly in the alignment of the joints.
Over-pronation is very prominent in people who have flexible, flat feet. The framework of the foot begins to collapse, causing the foot to flatten and adding additional stress to other parts of the foot. Therefore over-pronation can often lead to a case of Plantar Fasciitis, Heel Spurs, Metatarsalgia, Post-tib Tendonitis and/or Bunions. There are many causes of flat feet. Obesity, pregnancy or repetitive pounding on a hard surface can weaken the arch leading to over-pronation. People with flat feet often 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.
Over-Pronation may cause pain in the heel of the foot, the foot arch, under the ball of the foot, in the ankle, knee, hip or back. The symptoms may be localized to one particular area of the foot or may be experienced in any number of combinations. Standing for long periods of time, walking and running may become difficult due to the additional stress and/or discomfort accompanied with these activities. Upon Visual Inspection, when standing the heels of the foot lean inward and one or both of the knee caps may turn inward.
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
Over-pronation and the problems that go with it are treated with shoe inserts called arch supports or orthotics. You can buy orthotics at a pharmacy or athletic shoe store or they can be custom made. Make sure the arch supports are firm. If you can easily bend them in half, they may be too flexible.
Pronation forces us to bear most of our weight on the inner border of our feet. Custom-made orthotics gently redistributes the weight so that the entire foot bears its normal share of weight with each step we take. The foot will not twist out at the ankle, but will strike the ground normally when the orthotics is used. This action of the custom-made orthotics will help to prevent shin splints, ankle sprains, knee and hip pain, lower back pain, nerve entrapments, tendonitis, muscle aches, bunions, generalized fatigue, hammer toes, and calluses.