The word “pronation” refers to the natural motion of the foot during walking and running. In a previous article, I discussed supination (underpronation) where the foot does not roll inward enough when it makes contact with the ground. Now, let’s take a look at supination’s opposite cousin, overpronation. Overpronation happens when the outer edge of the heel hits the ground first, and then the foot rolls too far inward onto the arch.
Why is Overpronation Bad?
Overpronation can cause problems for the entire body. As the arch flattens and stretches because of overpronation, various muscles, tendons, and ligaments are strained. The foot isn’t properly absorbing the shock of the stride, so the impact is passed along to the legs, knees, hips, and spine. Overpronation also means the inner toes take on all the work of pushing off for the next stride. All of this puts an overpronator at a higher risk for developing a whole litany of problems, including:
- Knee, hip or back pain
- Ankle sprains
- Shin splints
- Achilles tendinitis
- Heel spurs
- Plantar fasciitis
- Hammer toes
How Can I Tell if I Overpronate?
Place your shoes on a table and take a good look at them. If the shoe tilts inward and shows a lot of wear on the inside of the sole close to the ball of the foot and the big toe, there’s a good likelihood that you are overpronating.
What Causes Overpronation?
People who have flat feet, low arches, or very flexible arches are more likely to overpronate. Some other factors that may contribute to overpronation include:
- Weight increase
What Can I do to Help Overpronation?
- Wear the right shoes – Shoes that work best for overpronators include stability shoes or shoes labeled as “motion control.” This type of footwear will help distribute the impact of your gait more evenly and reduce the pronation. The shoe may have good cushioning and arch support suited to flat feet. You can find athletic shoes specifically designed for overpronators.
- Orthotics – Adding inserts designed to help correct overpronation may be helpful. Custom-built orthotics will support your arch and improve the way your foot makes contact with the ground.
- Stretches and exercises – Some stretches and exercises may help relieve discomfort or pain caused by overpronation by helping to improve your gait or raising and strengthening your arches. Here are some useful exercises to try.
- Physical therapy – Sessions with a physical therapist may help to improve your gait over time and reduce your tendency to overpronate.
How Can I Tell for Sure if I Overpronate?
Issues resulting from overpronation can also have other causes, so get your feet looked at by a podiatrist. A podiatrist will examine your feet and test your gait to determine if you are overpronating. If you live in our area, one of our trained podiatrists at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle will accurately diagnose the cause of your issues. Whether we find you are indeed an overpronator or that some other problem is in play, we will work to get you as much relief as possible. So, don’t live in doubt any longer – let us discover whether or not you are overpronating. Make an appointment with us today.